Uzor Arukwe is a remarkable talent in the Nigerian film industry, known for his ability to seamlessly blend into any role he takes on. His performances are characterized by a profound depth and versatility that captivate audiences and critics alike. From humble beginnings to being our top actor of the year 2023, Uzor’s journey shows resilience and dedication, not to mention passion, and exceptional talent.

Growing up, Uzor Arukwe was deeply inspired by Nigerian television shows such as “Checkmate” and “Ripples Fortunes.” These programs ignited his passion for acting, and witnessing Nollywood stars in his Festac neighborhood cemented his belief that acting was his calling. Seeing these stars exude calmness and fulfillment, Uzor felt a divine nudge that acting was the path meant for him, especially if it allowed him to earn a living.

Uzor made his Nollywood debut in 2014 with the movie “Unspoken Truth,” but it was his role in “Sergeant Tutu” that truly brought him recognition. His portrayal of a private investigator in the 2019 movie “Code Wilo” further established his reputation in the industry. Uzor’s ability to take on diverse and challenging roles quickly set him apart as a rising star.

When asked about the most challenging character he has played, Uzor highlighted his role as Oga Chigozie in Funke Akindele‘s “A Tribe Called Judah.” He explained, “It was challenging because of the L and R factors the character has. Having to mismatch l and r into the dialogue was tough. These are words that I can pronounce correctly. But, now I have to mismatch the pronunciation. So, it was challenging. Also, my character had a lot of screen time too. This means that I had to constantly mispronounce the words.

We spoke to some of Uzor’s colleagues in the industry and they of course had high praise for him. Deyemi Okanlawon, Top Chart Africa’s top actor of 2022, describes Uzor as “a master at his craft and he is truly the ‘dark horse’ Nollywood never saw coming.” Sharon Ooja, one of Nollywood’s most famous actresses, echoes this sentiment, saying, “Uzor is extremely talented and amazing. An actor through and through.

When it comes to selecting roles, Uzor explained that he prioritizes reading the script, the director’s vision, the production’s intended platform—whether it be streaming, festivals, or cinema—and the co-actors involved. These factors collectively inspire his choices. Uzor emphasized that while roles come to him, it is his characterization and interpretation of these roles that he meticulously crafts.

In recognition of his talent, Uzor received two nominations for ‘Best Actor in Comedy or Movie’ at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards for his roles in “Smash” and “Size 12.” He also earned a nomination for ‘Best Actor’ at the 2021 Best of Nollywood Awards for his performance in “Yours Regardless.” These accolades are of course proof of his versatility and dedication to his craft.

Mentorship played a crucial role in Uzor’s early career. Reflecting on his journey, he mentioned John Njamah as a significant mentor who generously shared acting resources and provided guidance both on stage and on screen. Njamah’s availability and willingness to answer questions helped shape Uzor’s acting approach.

When asked what makes a great actor, Uzor stated, “There are too many factors involved. One, for me, is the ability to listen and react accordingly. Also, mastering stillness is important too. In this part of the world, we’re taught to react to everything and every situation. But, in reality, people don’t have to react to every utterance and situation. For me, the ability of an actor to attentively and honestly listen and be still is what makes a great actor. Acting isn’t really about the lines. But, about how you perform in a natural way that makes people question if you’re acting or not.

Reflecting on his success in 2023, when he was named Top Actor by Top Charts Africa, Uzor of course attributes it to God, combined with strategic decision-making by his management team, Guguru Media. Their symphony of collaboration, underpinned by faith, made this achievement possible.

Balancing personal life with professional commitments is a challenging endeavor for Uzor. However, he acknowledges the necessity of finding this balance, despite its difficulty. He says “It’s tough. But, one has to balance it. It’s not the easiest thing to do.

Describing himself in two words, Uzor considers himself humble and ambitious. As an actor, he is versatile and passionately committed to excellence.

To unwind, Uzor enjoys relaxing at home with a good film, a drink, and music. He also spends considerable time in self-reflection, which helps him decompress after hectic schedules.

Uzor values criticism and feedback as essential tools for growth. “I love criticism and feedback because it helps you to become a better actor. You can’t be an actor if you’re not open to criticism. An actor doesn’t need to love criticism, but they must learn to accept it,” he said.

Adding to the chorus of praise, Kayode Kasum, a top film director, says, “He is the definition of a Thespian.” Actress, singer, and television host Bisola Aiyeola adds, “Uzor is a very phenomenal actor and his versatility is unmatched.

For aspiring actors, Uzor advises staying focused and consistent. He encourages watching both international and local actors to learn valuable ethics and techniques. Persistence and a strong commitment to God are crucial components of breaking into and succeeding in the industry.

Uzor Arukwe’s journey is nothing short of inspiring. His dedication, talent, and humility have not only earned him accolades but also the respect and admiration of his peers. Colleagues have described him as a master at his craft, an extremely talented and versatile actor, and the definition of a thespian. His story serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring actors and we are absolutely glad to have had the opportunity to speak with the icon, Uzor Arukwe.