• spssveta

Stunt Performer Spotlight: Uché Uba

Updated: Mar 2

Tell about yourself, Uché!

My name is Uché Uba, like (oo-chay oo-bah), I’m from a small town in Northern Oregon called Beaverton.

I was raised by Nigerian immigrants who came to the West in search of a peaceful life after the Biafran war that divided our country in the 60’s. I first acted in the musical Annie as a Kindergartener, then again in a middle school play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

From there, I jumped into modelling around the age of 14 and became the Face of the Nike Running Division in high school and after college at Stanford I moved to LA to pursue entertainment full-time.

What inspired you to become a stunt person?

My first fight class was in 3rd grade when I studied Taekwondo. I absolutely loved every second of it and I became enthralled at every jab, cross, guard, and kick, man I loved the kicks.

I remember doing my first step-kick -- we called it a chicken-kick back then -- and I was like whoaaa this is so lit I wanna do this to somebody!!!

Classes were expensive let alone tournaments, gear and all the fees that can come with training so I unfortunately had to drop out from being a cult kid.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has been a huge time of reflection, and specifically the summer of 2020 amidst the Black renaissance and battle against injustice when my fighting spirit intensified.

I had always connected to superhero narratives, but seeing the world rise up for civil rights lit a new fire inside of me. I always loved what the stunts community produced but I never really knew what it truly was or how to get in.

Stunts always seemed to be somewhat in the shadows, or of an esoteric nature. In my career I had only done 40ft wire work jumps for a film where I played a soul-snaring creature and even then I was still quite far removed.

By coincidence I saw a close friend on Fox’s Ultimate Tag who connected me to Carrie Bernans, a talented stuntwoman and part of the iconic Dora Milaje in the Black Panther.

Carrie connected me to Mike Chat who is a cornerstone of the action stunts community. Mike has been my mentor and a huge guiding light in conjunction with his son Talin Chat.

I started waking up at 5:30AM for training and before I knew it I produced my own action film and was confident coming on set to support action narratives. I have a wild training schedule now and continue to combine mixed martial arts, stylistic dance and modern action design to remain both fluid and grounded in a constantly evolving market.

What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?

I love love love the ocean, especially Cliff & Scuba Diving. I’ve dove all around the world: I love finding a pristine Jacques Cousteau site teeming with life in the most pristine waters.

I’ve had my fair amount of scares underwater, one including my lungs nearly exploding in Mexico ‘cause I was taking a selfie in front of a tremendous quarter-mile wall of yellow tuna and ran out of oxygen hahahaha!

Emergency ascent 101 DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT hold your breath. Physics means that O2 expands as you rise. And.. Poof! There go your lungs! Haha! I know of international spies that travel across the ocean floor to plant clandestine devices and steal encrypted data via undersea cables.

These are things I can and want to do on film and TV. I definitely would be the first to sneak into an enemy base underwater.

I also have quite the imagination. I’m apparently obsessed with Spycraft and I have a dutiful nature so when it comes to authentic movement, inspired action, and fighting with intention, I really get lost in the worlds I create.

I really have no bounds in what I believe I can do; if I need to scale a catwalk to plant audio-recall tech in enemy territory, I’m bringing my imagination into my stealth . Imagination pours into every fiber of my being. It’s the difference between a generic fight, or the last fight you’ll ever do.

Fighting masked guard #2, or fighting a minion of the person who killed your daughter. I bring imagination into every situation on set and everything that I do.

What is the best part about being a stunt performer?

Dialogue acting and the ability to delve into a character’s mind captivates me immensely.

The opportunity to combine this with stunts and action movement frees the rest of the character’s body and spirit for me. So much can be learned about someone through their movement and especially how they fight.

For me, in the stunts world whether you’re a brilliant stunt double or a lead, action removes the glass dome when it comes to story, allowing me to run, jump, sweat, breath and feel alive and free. My God, it is exhausting but there’s no feeling like it. Is it a drug? Absolutely. And we’re all addicted in some way, viewers included.

What advice would you give other stunt people?

I’m still at the beginning of my career, I have so much to learn from those who paved the way for me and from my peers I am rising with.