Ebuka Obi -Uchendu shot to limelight 7 years ago with the first Big Brother Nigeria reality show where he blossomed to become one of the season’s most likable and memorable players. Though he did not emerge winner,the show did turn his life in a completely different direction, as he had not really thought about working on television until then. An indigene of Okija in Anambra StateNigeria, Ebuka grew up in Benin-City where he had his primary school before moving to Abuja for secondary school at Christ The KingCollege.
After obtaining a degree in Law from the University of Abuja and BL from the Nigerian Law School, Bwari in 2005, he took a long break from school for a few years before going to the American University, Washington DC for a Masters Degree in Intellectual Property as well as Communications Law. He is presently Senior Partner at Knight & Sheriff, Presenter at EbonyLife TV and talk show host at Channels TV. He is the 3rd of 4 children.
What was the first job you got after Big Brother?
The first job I got was a Guinness sponsored show called ‘Friend or Foe’. It was a game show that ran for 2 seasons. I loved every minute of it even though it was a learning experience. It helped me understand how tough working in the media can be. I only saw the glamour up until that point.
What was it like after you left big brother? What was the first job you got?
Ah! This Big Brother matter. You know I was on that show 7 years ago. So many things have happened since then. Anyway, the show did turn my life in a completely different direction. I had not really thought about working on television until then. The first job I got was a Guinness sponsored show called ‘Friend or Foe’. It was a game show that ran for 2 seasons. I loved every minute of it even though it was a learning experience. It helped me understand how tough working in the media can be. I only saw the glamour up until that point.
From Globacom and Guinness where you hosted a Guinness-sponsored show, Friend or Foe, on NTA, the GLO Show, exactly how did the evolution of Ebuka begin?
It was quite interesting because even after Big Brother, I still wanted to simply work on radio and then write for newspapers and other publications. I felt I was too shy for television. But I started getting invitations for auditions and realized gradually that I actually did enjoy it. Also, working on terrestrial television brought the pressure of mass appeal and I always knew that I had to be at my best because all of Nigeria was watching, cutting across all sectors of society. I’ve gone on to host many other shows after that, so it was a good springboard for me.
Give us a brief into your background, early education, where you grew up, how many siblings you had etc?
I grew up in Benin-City and had my primary school there before moving to Abuja for secondary school at Christ The King College. I went on to the University of Abuja to study law before getting my BL from the Nigerian Law School, Bwari in 2005. I took a long break from school after that for a few years before going to the American University, in Washington DC to get Masters Degree in Intellectual Property as well as Communications Law. I’m the 3rd of 4 children. I have an elder sister and brother and a younger brother.
Do you practice as a lawyer?
It is still my long term dream to grow that part of my career to its fullest, which was why I went to get a Masters degree. I practice now, but obviously not as intensely as I’d want to, because I have a lot of distractions working on television. But it’s definitely still a huge part of me.
What informed your choice of career as a teenager?
My dislike of mathematics. I wasn’t bad at Maths. I just never really liked it, so I avoided it in every way. I grew up wanting to be a pilot. Then I realized I loved the arts better as I matured. So law for me was a natural calling since it was a professional course that didn’t need any Maths or physics classes.
Law and TV are little worlds apart, what motivated this sort of crossover for you?
It wasn’t an intentional crossover like I said. TV came unannounced and I flew with it. But as much as people think they are worlds apart, I decided to marry them together with my Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law degree. Besides, some of the most successful TV shows in America today are law related. Judge Judy for instance is a multi millionaire today from following both her passions in law and television. Maybe the legal profession isn’t as conservative anymore.
You hosted the first ever presidential debate in Nigeria focused on youth issue which was broadcast live across Nigeria. Whose idea was it? What was the main objective and would you say the objective was met at the end of the day?
Basically, ‘Enough is Enough Nigeria’ along with many other youth based groups, needed to let the Presidential candidates at the time take young people seriously. We needed to hear from them directly, what they had for us and why we should vote for them. Unfortunately, some candidates didn’t show up but those who did gave an impressive account of themselves. It was shown live across the country and feedback was great. For a first attempt, I think it was hugely successful. Young people don’t usually demand that leaders speak to them. It was new and refreshing to see that happen. So, I know that 2015 would get even better.
What other projects have you worked on?
I have hosted many other shows on television. Tales of Greatness, Greatest 11 and one highlight for me was hosting Guinness’ 250th anniversary. It was a live broadcast from 4 cities across the world, including Lagos and Dublin. I co-hosted the Lagos event and the whole of the world was watching live. It was surreal to do, especially as some of the biggest music acts at the time like Sean Paul and Black Eyed Peas were some of the acts that performed. Rubbin’ Minds is also a big deal for me. Hosting a live formal interview based show was always my dream. I also co-host a brand new daily show on the brand new Ebony Life TV called The Spot. It’s nothing like I’ve done before and it’s nothing like people have seen either. I love new challenges and experiences.
As an on-air personality, do you feel the pressure to always look well put together at all times and do you think you always have to live a certain lifestyle?
It’s not pressure at all. I don’t honestly try too hard to look a certain way. For me, I try to be as effortless as possible. Less is more especially with male lifestyle and fashion so I try to stick to that principle.
What has been your pillar and kept you going through the years?
My family even if I don’t give them enough credit.They have actually been there for me all through and supported me every step of the way. I love every single one of them to bits.
Who is your role model?
The one person that always comes to mind is Jeff Bezos, the founder of amazon.com. I love his story. It’s always impressive to see people follow their dreams out of nothing and actually watch it grow and become successful businesses. But in direct relation to what I do, Asue Ighodalo is someone I admire a lot.
How do you un-wind after a hard day’s job?
I watch a lot of television. I watch any and everything and that diversity is what works for me. One minute I’m watching CNN, next I’m watching E! Then I’m watching football. Nothing is off limits. I also like to workout as often as I can.
Where is your best holiday spot?
I love to travel a lot but I don’t do that as often as I want. I love my village Okija a lot though. It’s unbelievably serene and still quite rural. It completely relaxes me. But my dream city is still Tokyo. I’m fascinated by
If you had a chance to start your life over again, what will you do differently?
I’d probably live in the moment more often. A lot of us tend to forget to live in the moment so that we don’t look back and wish we had done things a little differently or enjoyed them more. Seems like a tiny issue but it makes all the difference.
Who is your ideal kind of woman?
When I get married, you’ll get the answer. Soon enough I hope.
What is your eventual dream for the future?
Happiness. It is the most important value for me to possess. If you’re an unhappy billionaire, I don’t know that you’d think you lived a fulfilling life. The importance of a happy life cannot be overemphasized.