The first time I saw Tina Mba, it was in the sitcom “Extended Family” created by then-rookie Bovi Ugboma. I have now rewatched a couple of episodes on Youtube and still love them. I have always thought Bovi and Lilian Esoro whom I loved from “Clinic Matters” were the reason why I loved the show. It has become clearer, today. The matriarch of the show, Tina Mba, was the final puzzle that made the show the powerful art it was. I think “Extended Family” exemplified the kind of career the actress has had. She comes to the set, kills her character with a finesse that would do any A-list actor proud but somehow, someone else takes the glory.
Not tonight. Today is for Tina Mba the grossly underrated superstar.
Early life and the birth of a Thespian
Tina Mba was born in Delta States in October, in the early ’70s. She was first of a family of seven children. She was born by a mother who is a strong, if not fierce Catholic, and a father who she grew up seeing him as her best friend who taught her “basically 70 percent of the things I know and do now.” Her father was also a lover of people who raised a legion under his roof.
The family hails from Oghe, in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Mba grew up in Apapa Road, Lagos which was close to the National Theatre and she mentioned that I was always “sneaking to the theatre was easy for me and no one ever found out that”. Her parents, especially her mom, didn’t approve of her acting dreams. In fact, she mentioned that her parents didn’t know of this until they heard her name on the radio.
For education, she attended the Institute of Management Technology, IMT, Enugu before proceeding to Kilburn Polytechnic, London.
A Career, so good yet…
Writing for Pulse, Chibumgu Azuzu pointed out what many analysts and viewers may have known but ignored: “‘Isoken’ ‘Bariga Sugar’, and ‘Okafor’s Law’ serve as a reminder of her talent and we are once again reminded of how they have been taken for granted for far too long.”
“She is unarguably the best actress of 2017 so far,” they concluded. They duly gave her credit for her roles in “Make a Move” and “Tango with Me”
Other of her credit include “The Set Up” a 2019 crime thrilling film directed by Niyi Akinmolayan which also has Dakore Egbuson and Adesua Etomi in the star list. For her role here, Mba was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or TV Series in the AMVCA, an award she lost to Gloria Sarfo the Ghanaian star who dazzled in the movie “The Perfect Picture: 10 Years Later”. This wasn’t Tina’s first nomination, In fact, it was her second AMVCA. Earlier, in 2017, she was nominated by AMVCA for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Niyi Akinmolayan’s “Meet the In-Laws”.
See also: Uche Jombo facts
Tina not winning the AMVCA doesn’t detract from her excellence as an actor because the award is largely a popularity contest rather than a true testament of Thespian brilliance. We all saw Timini Egbuson cart away the award for Best Actor at the last AMVCA in the expense of the true winner Swanky JKA something that stood out as a sample of injustice that the voting system permits.
But the fact that the media and viewers keep treating Mba anything short of a superstar is an affront. Put her in a set of a movie, she would kill it. Put her on the set of a TV series and she won’t let you down. Her appearances in Africa Magic’s “Jemeji” which also has Akin Lewis, Mercy Johnson, and Tope Tedela in the cast and in “Forbidden” with Kunle Remi and Toni Tones in the cast only serve to cement what we already know about her.
Tina Mba was once asked by Punch if she would have rather have chosen another career to which she said a firm no, adding that: “Everyday births new talents and creativity, plus there’s always something to learn. I thank God for the talent He gave me to show the world.”
We are blessed because of this.
When asked what has kept her surviving in the industry when many actress who began with her had faded away, she said “God’s grace.”
We readers are the winners. Largely underserving winners.
Tina Mba: Marriage and her true love
Tina Mba is not married which is not the complete truth because watching her on set, everyone can tell who are true love is – the camera. But it has not always been this way. In the beginning, she loved men but had met with series of disappointments. “I have tried something close to a marriage,” she told Nollywood Gist in 2009 “but it didn’t work.” And that wasn’t the end because “I almost lost my life in the process.”
“I have been battered, beaten, broken,” she added. “I don’t need it.”
Tina Mba takes her happiness seriously, pointing out that she would rather live ten years of happiness than contemplate one hour of sadness.
“I told my mother that she has two lovely grandchildren, that should please her.” (Noe that Mba now has three kids.)
She has a relationship that she is happy with. A little over a decade ago, she called her partner “fantastic”, saying “He understands me, he knows me; we are friends basically. We have a lot in common. Perhaps, it is working for me because I have had a lot of experience you know, so I know how to handle certain things now better than I handled them before.”
In January 2019, she confirmed that she had a partner and that she had not ruled out marrying him. “I have found love. I am in love and will stay in love.”
We don’t know if this partner from 2019 is the same as the fantastic one in 2009. Or if she is still in love with him. But one thing we are sure of is what her true love is – acting. And they are blind who do not see this nor appreciate it.
Image source: WapTV