Ebuka Obi-Uchendu has stood out as the ever vibrant voice for young people across issues from pop culture to politics, lifestyle and more over the past few years. A veteran writer, with a column on ThisDay Newspaper, YNaija, Leadership amongst others.
He anchored the country’s first youth-centred Presidential Debate and recently became the anchor of the fashion and lifestyle TV programme, Rubbin’ Minds.
Ebuka holds two Masters degrees from the American University, Washington DC. Prior to participating in Big Brother Nigeria in 2006, he was a lawyer, having been called to the Nigerian Bar the year before. His edition of the Big Brother is the first and only edition with an all round Nigerian housemates. After the show, he signed deals with Globacom and Guinness and as such hosted a Guinness-sponsored show, Friend or Foe on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the GLO Show as well as Guinness' Greatness TV, all broadcasting on NTA.
The Anambra State indigene is also a compere and usually hosts Guinness related events. Safe to say he is the most successful housemate from his edition of Big Brother, easygoing with an affable nature. He had his secondary education at Christ the King College Abuja graduating in 1997, after which he proceeded to the university of Abuja, the Nigerian Law School and eventually moving out of the country to study Intellectual Property as well as Communications Law bagging Masters Degrees from the Washington College of Law of the American University Washington DC.
Ebuka loves to see himself as evolving, seeing he never intended to be in the spotlight but found himself there anyways, he says it is fun and while he intend to explore other avenues, he does not intend dropping it anytime soon. The new anchor of Rubbin’ Minds took out time off his busy schedule and shared the highs and lows, the fun moments and more – of his adventurous life and career path with OnoBello.com in this exclusive chat.
OB: Prior to Big Brother, did you ever think you would venture into Broadcasting as it pertains to Entertainment and lifestyle?
EOU: Well, I always wanted to be on radio. I’ve always thought I had a decent voice. But I was too shy for television, so radio seemed like the perfect escape to pursue that dream. I’m not sure that it would have been strictly entertainment and lifestyle based though. I’ve always had a stronger pull towards politics and current affairs.
OB: How has the experience been so far?
EOU: Very interesting. I’ve left my comfort zone, met amazing people and generally done things I probably never even dreamt about.
OB: You were practicing for about a year as a lawyer before Big Brother, do you miss being a lawyer?
EOU: I don’t miss it since I’m still a practicing lawyer. I left the entertainment scene in 2009 to go pursue a Masters degree. Graduated in 2011 with two Masters’ in Intellectual Property as well as Communications Law. So, I do practice privately in my firm ‘Knight & Sheriff.’ My interests mostly lie with Entertainment Law.
OB: You were close with some of the housemates during your season of the Big Brother, do you still keep in touch?
EOU: Oh, very well. I’m in touch with virtually everyone bar one or two of the 14 who were in the house. We are all Nigerians so it’s easier to connect than those who contested on a continental platform. Everyone is doing pretty well in diverse sectors. The growth has been interesting to watch. All of the housemates on my season were Nigerian. That was what was unique about it. Too bad it hasn’t been done again because I think Nigerians thoroughly enjoyed watching it back then.
OB: Compare your experience practicing as a lawyer with presenting and hosting TV shows
EOU: They are poles apart of course. One is very conservative and the other is quite flamboyant and sometimes over the top. Many people think I’m weird for combining two careers that have nothing to do with each other. But people like Judge Judy and Nancy Grace have shown that both can actually meet. I love the contrasts though. The law tickles and tackles me intellectually while television is like a release for me.
OB: How does it feel to be hosting a program such as Rubbin’ Minds that combines entertainment, lifestyle and fashion?
EOU: I love it. It’s different from the shows I’ve hosted in the past. It’s the sort of show that I’ve always wanted to do; something that doesn’t restrict me to a particular sector or path. The diversity is what I love, added to the fact that it is live. There’s nothing better than live television.
OB: Which event or situation has been the most embarrassing for you as a presenter/host?
EOU: On New Year’s day, I hosted a breakfast show with the awesome Funmi Iyanda and mistook the writer Chibundu Onuzo for Chika Unigwe live on TV. I had read the wrong bio before hand and started off asking the wrong questions. She corrected me live on air and I felt stupid. Nothing worse than a guest making you look like you have done a poor job.
OB: Your career seems to be on the move from corporate ambassadorship, to presenting and hosting and so on, do you think you will stick to this (presenting) for a while or you want to move on?
EOU: Presenting is great. It is something I enjoy a lot. But like a lot of things in Nigeria, it is impossible to have just one career these days. So I don’t know about sticking to presenting. But it’s not something I intend to drop anytime soon.
OB: What is in stock for Ebuka in the nearest future?
EOU: Getting better at everything I do and making more money out of them.
OB: Is there a chance you will venture into movie or music seeing you are an entertainment enthusiast?
EOU: With music, there’s no chance. I can’t even sing in the shower. With movies, I’ve been turning down scripts for about 7 years now and they still keep coming. Problem is, they also keep getting better. I’ve never seen myself as an actor and I don’t think I can act. But I don’t want to say never on that one. Right now though, acting is nowhere near my radar. But you never know.
OB: You are perceived as easy going and a person who keeps to himself, how do you combine that with the sociable lifestyle of being an entertainer?
EOU: I like to call myself a quiet extrovert. I love to meet people, pick their brains and have great conversations. But I love to do them at my time and be left alone when I want to. Fame doesn’t interest me and I know that sounds weird seeing that I went on a reality show. But truth is, I probably would never have known that if I didn’t try at first.
OB: In terms of style, what can you not be caught dead wearing?
EOU: Almost nothing actually. I’ll probably try everything at least once. I love to take risks with fashion.
OB: Do you like fast cars and gadgets? If yes tell us about that?
EOU: Fast cars don’t really catch my attention. Good cars do. I’m not one to try to do a 200 on a freeway. Anything German would be perfect.
OB: What’s the most recent gadget you bought?
EOU: I actually haven’t spoilt myself in a while. Thanks for reminding me. I should spoil myself for Valentine’s.
OB: What’s your obsession with football? What premiership team do you support?
EOU: (Laughs) It’s called the greatest sport in the world for a reason. I love it! I support the Super Eagles, Manchester United and Enugu Rangers in that order.
OB: What do you think of the Nigerian national football teams?
EOU: We’ve had a couple of really bad years and the administrators sadly left things to rot for so long. Fixing it will take a while but I can already see signs of some progress. It can only get better.
OB: Who are your favourite football players both at home and abroad?
EOU: I’m liking Emmanuel Emenike a lot. He’s like Yekini and Amokachi rolled into one. It’s been a while since we saw a Nigerian striker who was willing to put himself on the line for a goal. I also think Cristiano Ronaldo is a great guy. Then of course, I like Manchester United’s Patrice Evra a lot. We’re best friends in my head.
OB: Coming to writing, with your pro-active style of writing, if you could write a book about yourself what angle will you take it from?
EOU: Definitely from my personality. Most people say I’m tough to understand because I always wear a smile as if to mask whatever else is going on in my life. It would be nice to de-emphasize the physical and write about what really goes on in my head.
OB: With deals from Globacom, Guinness to modeling, hosting shows and writing, you must be making so much money, what do you do with all your money?
EOU: I’d have an answer to that if I were really making a lot of money. (Laughs)
OB: Any upcoming deals we should be expecting?
EOU: That would be telling now wouldn’t it?
OB: What has been the greatest challenge coming up to where you are right now?
EOU: Accepting to follow a different path from what I always thought out for myself in life. I was meant to have a pretty structured life with a 9-5 and no extra drama. Big Brother threw a curveball at me and I’ve had to learn to re-adjust everything.
OB: Now to your love life, I’m sure with your good looks and manners, you get a lot of ladies hitting on you? How do you cope with that being that you are in the public eye and may still want to keep them as fans?
EOU: I always find this question funny when it’s asked to me or anyone else. As if women come with knives and say “marry me or I kill you.” There’s nothing to cope with. It doesn’t choke me or make me uncomfortable so I’m doing just fine.
OB: Who is the lucky woman? Any sign of walking down the aisle soon?
EOU: ‘Soon’ is always a safe word right? So yeah, soon.
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