Nollywood is a beautiful place –Nkiruka

Nkiruka Umeh

For many fans of Nigerian home videos, beautiful Nkiruka Umeh is simply a Nollywood starlet who has been showcasing her talent on screen. But what many don’t know about her private life is that the mother of four children is deeply familyoriented and committed to using the rewards of her job to help ailing relatives.

Nkiruka’s mother, Mrs. Janet Ezenylimbe, recently had surgery on her legs to correct immobility resulting from arthritis at Abuja-based Primus Super Specialty Hospital. The actress was not acting when she showed astonishment that her mother could walk again, unaided, within a very short period.

While advocating an end to medical tourism in the country, she expressed surprise that Nigeria’s health system has improved appreciably such that billions of naira being wasted by Nigerians in foreign lands in the quest for medical treatment, could be saved through patronage of the nation’s health facilities– be it public or private.

“My mom’s health condition had been the greatest challenge I had ever faced. My mum had arthritis and it destroyed her knees. She found it very difficult to walk. She couldn’t walk for five minutes without sitting –that is before she was brought here”, she told our reporter.

According to her, family members had agreed that the surgery be carried out in India. But that plan changed soon after positive referrals from people who had been successfully treated by the same Abuja hospital. “Sometimes, we don’t appreciate things around us. I really don’t think it is necessary to travel out if we have the right treatment in the country. I was actually making arrangements to fly my mum to India; that was when I started talking with friends. I researched and met a couple of people that came here for the same problem my mum had and they gave me a very good account of the place. I decided to try it and seriously, I am not disappointed”.

In less than a month, her mother was treated and on her way to full recovery of her limbs.

Nkiruka also spoke about her career and challenges of combining responsibilities of motherhood with acting. “Nollywood is a beautiful place to work. It is enjoyable once you know what you are doing and set goals for your future; just do your thing and you‘ll love it”, she said elatedly. However, her major challenge is the stress of acting; “Although, it is not unexpected in this job”.

She noted that the Nigerian movie industry is still growing. “Everybody knows we are growing. Actually, we are doing very well because we are just celebrating Nollywood@20. Hollywood has been there for decades, but we are marching on”, she said.

Asked which films has been her greatest challenge? “I would say Who Won the Battle? was really challenging because it was shot in a bush somewhere in Enugu. I spent practically two weeks in the bush having to travel from city to the village and back to the city. Sometimes, you stay in that bush till 2.00 a.m. That was very challenging; I had to run and walk up and down the mountains. However, it is the movie role I cherish most and it was directed by Afam Okereke”.

Some of the movies in which she has featured include Mama Africa (to be premiered soon); The Royal Maid, Heart of a Maid, Kiss and the Bride, Who Won the Battle?, Close to My Heart, The Prodigal Daughter, The Judgment, The Three Blind and The Blind Soul. There are several other movies featuring Nkiruka not yet released into the market.

For role models in the industry, the emerging star opts for established Nollywood icon, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde ‘who I love so much!’. She is a mother and an actress and I admire her ability. It is not an easy task to raise children and work as an actress. But I cope because God has been there for me”, she concluded.

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