Ex Big Brother Naija Housemate Uriel Ngozi Oputa is a bundle of talents with an energetic personality. The curvy and classy songster who was arguably the most dramatic housemate in the big brother house has amassed a huge followership and still trending, even after the show.
She is a musician, hair expert, a cook and the face of many brands. Born and bred in the United Kingdom, Uriel bagged a degree in Nursing from London Southbank University.
In an interview with City People Head of Movie Desk, VIVIAN ONUORAH, she speaks on her life, fame, and many careers.
How has life been for you after the Big Brother Show?
It has been good, interesting, positive and at the same time negative because right now you are constantly in the public eye. You say something or dress a certain way and people look up to you while some people just want to bring you down. Basically, it has been good despite all of that and I’m very grateful for the platform Big Brother gave me.
Can you shed more light on the positive things?
It has been good and there has been a lot of good endorsements as well coming and a lot more to come. I think however I have paid my dues because right before Big Brother, I have been trying to make it as an upcoming musician and it was really hard for me.So now am happy they are coming and it’s because am working and putting myself out there. Am very heavy on social media, I love posting and that is just it. If you work hard, good things will happen and if you don’t work hard, things won’t happen. Although you have the platform, you don’t expect people to come and look for you, you have to give them a reason to want you and that’s what I have been doing. Also being humble, being nice to people and being yourself generally go a long way. You don’t know who will be of help to you to someday.
Let’s talk about your Imo State endorsement, how did that happen?
My Imo State ambassadorship happened when I went back to my hometown, Oguta in Imo State, and my governor just took interest in my personality and I was made the Ambassador for Carnival Imo State which is very good but at the same time, it is heavy as well. You know you have to work because planning a carnival is not easy, but I like to challenge myself so I appreciate it and am putting my best efforts into it.
Before you finally got a homecoming party, you made a lot of drama about it online, how did it finally happen?
There was a little bit of internet buzz so I think my state just felt very sorry because I went there and represented them ,I hope well, so when it was buzzing all over the internet, they reached out to me and said let’s do this for you and that was how I got the homecoming party.
You also got an endorsement with Nexus Home appliances?
Yes, I got an endorsement with Nexus home appliances. It just happened through my manager.They wanted somebody they felt people connected with and they felt I was right for the brand because they wanted an Igbo girl that could market their brand. All those days working in the retail helped because I worked in the retail for many years while in the UK, even through high school and university, I used to be on the cashier serving people, folding clothes so I know how to market things and it is coming to good use for me now (smiles)
Among all your fellow housemates, you seem to be the only one who is really out there, is that a strategy?
Not at all, am naturally out there and love to put myself out there. I don’t take anything for granted, it’s not because of my personality or just big brother, I believe its God’s Grace and it’s my time. I know what I went through before big brother. I had a failed engagement, I was supposed to be married but it failed, I was looking after my mum for several years, had health issues because of depression. So I went through a lot and at one point I thought I couldn’t even have children because of my health issues and I feel like now it’s God’s Grace because enough is enough. My dream is to look after my mum, build a house for her and I think am coming close to that.
You do music, you make wigs and then you have your Uriel Kitchen Cook Out, what exactly are you going to focus on?
I focus on everything am good at, if am good at five things I will focus on all five of them. I feel that many people cut themselves short by just doing one thing. You have 10 fingers so why focus on one thing when you are good at so many things. If am good at so many things I will do all of them because it means money will be coming from all different angles. I have always been good at multi-tasking and it works for me.
Talking about your music career, what should we expect from you?
If you look at my track record, am very different minded and I do things my way. My music career is going to be something very different and am coming close to releasing something but I won’t do it the normal way ,am going to wow people .I think being normal is boring and I have never been normal all my life. Growing up I was the only black girl in an all-white school, growing up I was always big, I was always the darkest, I have four brothers and am the only girl so many different things. So my music is going to be different and my style of music is also different and has a blend of Igbo.
What has been the biggest embarrassing moment you have had since you left the big brother house?
I won’t call it embarrassing but it was a reality check .I post pictures and sometimes people comment about my weight that am big or that my skin is dark or that am ugly, some even tell me to go and bleach my skin. The way I look at it, am not embarrassed about it but it is an eye opener that there are a lot of people out there to bring you down, so it’s not embarrassing moment but a moment for me to have a self-evaluation and that actually makes me appreciate myself the more. Sometimes though I just wish they would just let me be the way I am but I have learnt to love myself more.
Let’s talk about your background, what was your formative years like?
I was born and bred in London. I was born in Hammersmith but I grew up in South London and I moved to Nigeria for the very first time barely 5 years ago. I learnt to speak Igbo fluently through my mum because she always spoke Igbo to us while growing up so I can say I come from a very Igbotic home (laughs).I took that time to learn my language because am a woman and I believe my children deserve the right to know their language. Espcially abroad if you go out in public and your child is messing up, just say one thing in Igbo and the kid will just fix up. Also am all about my tradition and heritage am grateful my mum gave me that privilege despite being born abroad.
At what point did you start music?
I started music when I was like 8 years because I come from a very musical family. My uncle Charlyboy and my other uncle Dr Alban who sang the popular song “It’s My Life”. I was going around telling everyone he is my uncle because the song was a big hit in the UK. Also my mum sings, my brothers too all play instrument so I remember from a very young age I loved music and the very first Nigerian artiste I fell in love with was Tuface. When he sang African Queen and that opened my eyes to afro beats, Naija styles but I have loved music for a long time. I realised I could sing when I was 13.
What is your educational background?
I have two degrees, am a Nurse. I graduated at Southbank University where I trained as a nurse but I never practised I had to take care of my mum who fell ill when I got my Nursing degree so I couldn’t work. I also have a degree in Creative Writing from Bedfordshire University. I also trained at Kings College UK.
How have you able to handle the fame so far?
It has been ok but you are aware that people are always looking at you. Am the kind of person who can just leave her house with bathroom slippers and I won’t care but now the case is different. It is weird sometimes you walk into a place and everybody knows you, its ok though but maybe you have to be a little paranoid,. It comes with it.
Who are the housemates you are close to?
Am close to everybody, we talk and we have a watsapp group. Am sure in the house I was very neutral and spoke with everybody and that is the same way I have been since we came out.
What about TBoss?
She is fine but I haven’t actually spoken to her but am sure she is doing great. But the way we were in the house is the same way we are right now.
When you got the Pay Porte endorsement, fans tried to pitch you and Tboss against each other, how did you take that?
My fans were trying to divide us but am not into that, I have never been the kind of person to be in a particular clique or stuff like that. I got bullied in school because I was never in a clique and I was the only black girl.SO in my adult age, am not used to it because at the end of the day, segregation doesn’t help anybody. When you are preaching hate you can never do well in life. Even if you don’t get along with someone, you need to accommodate that person because you never know what may work for that person.
What did you have in mind when you set up Uriel’s diary?
I like to do a lot of stuffs like skits on my page but Uriel diary session is something I would eventually turn into a TV show. So what I had in mind was to talk about real topics like depression, love, relationships, health issues but in a light hearted way because a lot of women are going through a lot of stuff and they need to understand that people are going it too.
How did you get over your depression?
I won’t say am totally over it, but I have overcome it to a certain extent where I know when that voice comes in to say am this or that, look at me am 30 yet am not married and your mates are all married. I know how to challenge that chain of thoughts, I have come a long way, there are times you are so depressed that you don’t want to get up but now I have learnt to push myself and get up and move. I have more strength now though am still working on it. Also big brother has helped me because now am more out there, I can no longer lock myself up.
Are you single?
I was stressing about being single back in the house and yes am still single up till now. Am saving myself for Anthony Joshua (laughs)
Aren’t you getting admirers or what?
I do but maybe they are not the ones for me now or I haven’t met the right one yet and am not about to let myself go for anybody. I have kept myself for almost 2 years now and I haven’t been with anyone so am not going to let that go easily. I feel like I have a lot to offer to my man.
What qualities are you looking out for in your ideal man?
I love a hardworking man because am also hardworking. A man who would be straight forward with me and somebody that has understanding of emotions. What I mean if somebody that understands consequences. You know that if you do this, it is going to trigger certain emotions. Not only my emotions but his own too and that of people around me. I want a God fearing guy too. He has to be tall, or physically like Jiedanna or Anthony Joshua.
What is your unique selling point?
Apart from my physical like my complexion, shape and my brain, lips because I have nice lips, am also a good cook.
My Nexus kitchen cookout with Uriel is ongoing and we are doing more States. When am done with that, am going to have a cook show. I created a new soup called ofe oyoyo. I am going to have my own restaurant and also make my own seasoning.