By Daniel Edu
In an exclusive conversation with JOHNNY EDWARD, renowned actor Uzor Arukwe delves into his affection for Liverpool FC and Mohamed Salah, his basketball experiences, and more.
Did sports play a role in your upbringing?
Absolutely, I was actively engaged in both basketball and table tennis during my formative years. Basketball became a prominent part of my secondary school days, where we began learning the sport. University students from institutions like the University of Port Harcourt and UST would visit our school to play on our basketball courts. Additionally, naval officers, who were skilled table tennis players, imparted their expertise to us, sparking my interest in table tennis.
Which NBA basketball team captures your allegiance?
I have a fondness for the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, and the Chicago Bulls.
Did your parents support your sports involvement?
My father was relatively indifferent as long as I focused on academics, while my mother was content with my sports participation.
Did football attract you during that time?
Although I occasionally joined street football matches known as “monkey post,” basketball was my true passion. I participated in street football due to peer interaction, but it never captivated me the way basketball did. At that time, basketball exuded a sense of elegance that football, now popularized by lucrative contracts, didn’t hold.
Do you favor any football team?
Certainly, I support Liverpool due to their aggressive style of play. Their impressive track record, including victories in the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League, garnered my admiration. The “You’ll Never Walk Alone” spirit resonated with me. Previously, I leaned towards Chelsea by association with my friends, who are fervent Chelsea fans. Yet, over time, I transitioned into a Liverpool fan. Steven Gerrard significantly influenced my fondness for Liverpool; his unexpected and remarkable shots on goal captivated me.
Moreover, Mohamed Salah is a major factor in my Liverpool devotion. His explosive speed and ability to penetrate defenses are captivating. Other former Reds players like Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and their new captain Virgil Van Dijk also hold my respect. Salah’s and Mané’s humility appeals to me.
Your most memorable Liverpool moment?
Though the last season’s performance left much to be desired, I remain hopeful for the upcoming one. Naturally, every victory exhilarates me, while losses disappoint. The draw against Chelsea in their opening match pleased me somewhat. I anticipate a victorious start to the season against Bournemouth this Saturday.
When did you decide to pursue acting?
Acting has always been my aspiration. While I dabbled in it as a teenager, I dreamt of making it my profession. After a decade in the corporate world—five years in telecommunications and another five in sport equipment retail—I embraced professional acting.
What challenges did you confront in the industry?
I confronted skepticism and underestimation, as people were uncertain of my capabilities. I needed to demonstrate my competence and skill. Acting remuneration was also discouraging; a role could yield as little as N1,000. But like any industry, persistence and consistency were vital.
Amid the surge of actors in Nollywood, what distinguishes you?
Each actor possesses a unique style and identity. As time passes, my contributions will be recognized. I perceive myself as a versatile actor capable of embracing diverse roles. Comedy, drama, or any genre—I am prepared to excel in all.
Handling admirers, especially female fans, as a handsome actor?
I remain focused on my craft. Both male and female audiences appreciate my work, for which I am grateful. I acknowledge their support and move forward. Sometimes, they confuse my on-screen personas with my real self.
Any awkward moments on stage?
During a fight scene, a colleague accidentally struck my groin, causing me to fall. The natural pain overtook my acting, revealing my genuine reaction.
Your proudest achievement as an actor?
To date, it’s the steady growth in my career. Transitioning into full-time acting in 2018, I garnered two nominations for the same category at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards by 2020. This remains a significant achievement.