Actress Mary Uranta may not be a house-hold name in the Nigerian movie industry, but certainly she's one of those familiar faces. A graduate of Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Uranta started her journey into the world of make-believe as an undergraduate some six years ago. Still paying her dues, she is one of the busiest in the industry at the moment as she shuttles between two different locations. In this chat with MERCY MICHAEL, the actress talks about her slow rise to fame, peculiar life style, relationship and other things. Excerpts
HOW long have you been in the industry?
Okay, professionally for about six years now.
So what would you say have been happening to your acting career?
It actually has been off and on for me, before finally I decided to stay back and face it. I actually started a long time ago while I was in school. I went to Rivers State University of Science and Technology. Then, they used to come to school to do some auditions so I go and all that. At a point I realized I loved it and decided to go for it. Once in a while I will come from school to Lagos to do a cameo. Finally, six years ago I decided to come in fully even then, it's still been off and on for me.
What other thing do you do that takes you away from acting?
Nothing really, I spend most of my time outside. I do buying and selling as well and whenever I travel to get my things, I take my time, I relax. I don't go because I need to buy for two weeks, one month and come back; no, I take my time to do all I have to do. And apart from that, the industry as not being encouraging, in as much as you love acting, it has not been encouraging that you'll want to put in your all. You can't put in your all because you still have to go out there to fend for yourself, to make ends meet, pay your bills. If the industry was paying everyone the way it pays a few people then you'll want to give in your all because that is where you make your money from, but if you have to work here and get your money from somewhere else, it discourages you sometimes.
With the prevalent scenario, do you see yourself quitting?
No, the present circumstance cannot make me quit. It can never take me away from here because I love to be here and I know I will be here.
Is acting what you actually studied in the University?
I actually studied Sec. Admin.
Why the choice of an acting career?
Sec. Admin has never been what I wanted. I just stumbled on it instead of waiting a year at home. Before then, I got Sociology in Uni-Port, I didn't go for it. I wanted Mass Communication, English or Linguistics but I couldn't get it. And the following year, I got Sec. Admin and I thought instead of waiting another year, let me go for it, get my degree and do whatever I want to do.
In terms of script, what kinds of script have been coming your way?
I'm yet to really get a great script. I think that all I have been doing, because most times I sit back at home, put my movies on and watch them. And I see that I've not really done what I love to do. I haven't even done what will project me. I still do things that people give to me. A producer comes and says come and do this, you do it because it's what is available. If I have the opportunity to start my own production outfit, I know the type of movies I will do to really get me where I want to be.
Despite the uncertainty, why are you still in the industry?
I'm in it for the passion. If it were for money, I would have gone a long time ago. But I know that one day will be my turn, all I just need to do is work hard then I will arrive.
How do you feel to see some of your colleagues 'arrive' like you said while you're waiting to 'arrive'?
Nobody will ever feel good about that. But the only thing it does is that it makes you sit up and know that it's not easy to attain stardom. And you really have to work very hard to be at the top. But then, some people didn't get there through hard work. They got there by playing 'dirty'. I can't do nudity role. I can't play 'dirty' like some do just to be popular. I have a family who is watching me. Genevieve is our number one actress today, how many nude roles did you see her play? How many nude roles are you seeing Monalisa play? These are our A-list actress. Those that do it, do it because they want to be known. But do they have to know you for the wrong thing? I will shine when it's my time to. I don't like to 'belong'.
What's your relationship with your colleagues?
I'm free with everyone. I know those who are my senior colleagues. I see them on set; I greet them like my seniors. It's just like working in a bank and you have an MD, would you come and rub shoulders with your MD? No, you should know who your senior colleagues are, when you see them you greet them and comport yourself. And those who are your contemporaries, whether they are making waves, or they're getting more roles than you, you flow with them. The industry is a table, it turns. One day it will be my turn. So that is it.
Who are your friends in the industry?
It is common saying that there are no true friends in the industry but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't mention a few names, people that I look up to, that I can pick up my phone and call if I'm in need. If I say there are no true friends, it also means that I am not a true friend to anybody. But because I know I'm a true friend to people who come around me so I can actually give it up for some people. Adaora Ukoh is my friend. Halima Abubakar, Susan Peters, Monalisa Chinda, she's like a big sister to me. Emeka Ike is like a brother, a lot of them. These are people I can actually call up anytime and say I need help and they will actually turn to me and give me that help.
You have a quiet mien and in your kind of industry don't you think it might affect your rise?
I'm not an introvert. A lot of people tend to say that but I'm not. It's just that I like to keep to myself. People say I don't come out, I don't make noise. Should I come on the street and start singing? I don't get it. I've never been an introvert. I'm a very lively person. But If I go out in public, I like to comport myself and do the right things. Fine, I really don't hang out with a lot of people because I don't live the kind of life style they live. It's not that they are not my friends or that I don't greet them but we can't be together 24hours because I do not live 'that life' with them.
What are your thoughts about awards?
I like awards when I merit them. Some people pay money for awards but not me. If I'm in my house sleeping and they call me up that Mary, we are giving you an award tomorrow; it's a huge honour because I never saw it coming but not when I already know. I got an award recently, International Role Model Awards. I was just in my house and the next thing my phone rings all the way from Abuja, not entertainment award. This is an international award from African Youth Society. You and I know what it means, it's not like the usual award. I was surprised and I had to ask why I was being giving the award. Like what they said on the day we were being presented the award, this award is meant for those who do not have scandals. This award is meant for those who are pure, praises and I was just happy to be part of it.
But do you think it is possible to be in this industry and be 'sane'?
Yes I think so. Me being on screen doesn't mean I should live a reckless kind of life style in public or even behind? Something that is not part of me, I begin to act it because I want to impress people? Most of these things you see some of my colleagues do, I tell you, they don't have it in them. They do it because they want to belong to a certain class.
Is marriage in the offing?
That is want thing I don't like to discuss. It's not in my place to discuss marriage. It is a man that proposes to a woman. So all you need to do is keep praying and the day it will come, it will come. But I don't sit down and plan for marriage because I cannot marry myself.