Wednesday 16 August 2017

'I feared I'd be deported before my Fair City dream came true' - says actor Uche

Uche Gabriel (centre) in Fair City
Uche Gabriel (centre) in Fair City
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Fair City star Uche Gabriel Akujobi has revealed how he was nearly deported from Ireland when he first arrived in the country.

The actor, who grew up in Lagos in Nigeria came over here on his own when he was just 15 as an unaccompanied minor. t

He said he was originally offered a part in the popular RTE soap 10 years ago, but couldn’t take it up as he had no legalwork permit.

“I had to go through the asylum-seeking process and I was nearly deported in 2004,” he said. “I was in school, sitting my Leaving Cert, and I had a deportation order for that entire year.

“Thankfully, people really rallied around me – former students at my school, my teachers, my principal – they were all doing everything they could to help. 

“I was eventually allowed to stay under exceptional circumstances. I completed my Leaving Cert the following year, and I went on to study business at Trinity.”

But he decided that the world of business wasn’t for him and instead went on to train with Dublin Youth Theatre and the Gaiety School of Acting as he honed his craft.

The talented performer said that landing the part of Lenka Mudenda in the RTE show was “one of the highlights of my career”.

He added a multi-cultural element to the Irish programme when he first entered the show earlier this year, but said that his big break almost never happened.

The performer took on the role of nurse Ama’s former fiance in Zambia and caused major upset when he first appeared on the RTE programme last summer.

Played by Donna Anita Nikolaisen, viewers saw her life overturned when character  Lenka suddenly arrived back on the scene.

“When I was actually offered a part over 10 years ago, I couldn’t take it as I had no employment papers. So it seems fitting that an opportunity came up again,” he added.

An actor and singer, Uche said that the Discovery Gospel Choir helped support him in his fight to stay in Ireland after he helped set up the group when he was just 17.

He was one of the guests at a bash in the Sugar Club last night which saw them celebrating their 11th year.

Aimed at promoting integration, members of the choir come from over 20 different countries.

Herald

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