Conphidance is a former math teacher who will appear as the recurring co-star, CJ, on “Complications,” USA Network’s new television series from Matt Nix, the creator and executive producer of “Burn Notice.” The show stars Jason O’Mara (“Vegas”) as Dr. John Ellison, Jessica Szohr (“Gossip Girl”) as Gretchen, a reckless but capable nurse, Beth Riesgraf (“Leverage”) as John’s wife, Samantha, and Lauren Stamile (“Burn Notice”) as John’s by-the-book co-worker, Dr. Bridget O’Neill.
Conphidance, whose real name is Uchenna Echeazu, left teaching in the summer of 2010 from Westlake High School in Atlanta. He was known as “Mr. E,” the funny but strict math teacher, who wore a suit and a tie everyday, even in the hot summer. He taught algebra I to ninth and 10th graders, and was the assistant coach of the varsity boys soccer team. He held after-school tutoring, 2-3 days a week, for the benefit of his students. By day, he was a math teacher and by night, he worked hard to hone his craft in the film, television, theater, and music industries. No one in the school was aware, though he often told his students that they would see him on television in a few years. Ironically, they laughed and made comments agreeing that they wouldn’t be surprised.
“It was extremely difficult, working on lesson plans, grading papers and catering my teaching style to various students while staying up late nights to learn more about the entertainment industry. I had six math classes with an average of 26 students. My schedule became worse when the faculty found out I could play soccer and I would make a great coach to the boys,” he says. “And teachers deserve more respect than they’re given. Education is a field I can talk all day about.”
While filming “Complications,” Conphidance saw a former student, who was acting as an extra. He waited in between scenes then approached him. “My student didn’t recognized me at first because I didn’t have my huge beard from school,” he says. They caught up and he was able to advice the young man as he has done in the past.
Conphidance graduated from the University of Florida with a biological engineering degree, receiving minors in biomechanics and African studies, with a specialization in visual and performing arts. He was a very active member in the African and international communities. As the president of the African Student Union for two years and the organization’s dance choreographer for five years, he influenced the campus with culture, activism and inspiration. His choreography fused traditional modern elements with pop culture. While in school, he also wrote, directed and acted in numerous plays and comedy sketches which were showcased at ASU’s annual African showcases.
Entertainment was definitely in his blood but “education lays a strong foundation for anything” he says. Though he isn’t a math teacher anymore, he continues to hold math workshops, volunteer, mentor, and tutor students from basic math to linear algebra.
“Complications” centers on a disillusioned suburban doctor who, while still dealing with the emotional effects of his daughter’s death, unexpectedly becomes a vigilante hero when he intervenes in a drive-by shooting, saving a young boy’s life. When John learns the boy is still marked for death, he’s compelled to save him at any cost. Through this journey, he must compromise his morals, often doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons. Conphidance plays the role of CJ, the young boy’s close relative.
In addition to working on major film and television productions, he also writes, directs, and produces comedy sketches and short films. Around Atlanta and in neighboring states, you can find him in front of small and large audiences, hosting events, making people laugh, and keeping the show flowing smoothly. He is truly a multitalented entertainer.
“Through the arts, I strive to inspire the world toward positivity by building self-confidence one person at a time” says Conphidance. “And I am an advocate for education. Without it, you can’t truly grow. It’s not only found in the school system, it’s all around the world. Therefore, I remain a student of life and substance.”
How did you arrive at this career choice? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
It has always been there so it was a gradual transition. Being an immigrant from Nigeria and knowing the struggles my parents faced to bring us to the U.S., it was definitely hard to convince them that my calling was to inspire through entertainment. With that said, I ended up graduating with a degree in Biological Engineering, receiving minors in Biomechanics and African Studies. But while I was in school, I did a lot of trial and error, writing and directing comedy sketches, plays, and short films. Then I moved to Atlanta and it was time to educate young students while I work my way up the entertainment industry.
What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
I strive to choose productions and roles that years from now I can sit with my family, including my kids, with satisfaction and delight in what I was a part of. Typically, I aim for stories that are empowering and continue to move people in a positive direction.
For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
I recommend continuous practice on the art and an understanding of the business. Knowing the truth about one’s failures is also essential so that they know what they need to work on. When actors think they are great at everything, it’s difficult to take criticism but if you understand your weakness then you aren’t fazed.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I act, write, direct, produce, dance, sing, and most importantly stay connected with God. All areas of the industry complement each other.
Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about what you do? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
People tend to discredit actors unless they are widely known but the truth of the matter is there are actors that act as a second job, the same way people have a side hustle. Additionally, there are some that make a living doing theatre year round, indie films, one or two TV bookings, a few commercials, etc.
When I sense that someone is belittling an actor, I remind them that with the amount of platforms available for film, TV, and more, you will never know everyone who is an actor unless they become a household name. Even with that, they could be a household name in a specific genre and you may not have heard of them unless you are into that type of production.
How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
I make short term goals to achieve my long term success. I place a time frame to do them but I’ve understood that God is in control. As long as I do what I am to do, things will fall into place and most times it falls at a time I didn’t plan for, both earlier and later. So as long as I’ve done what I needed to do, I move on to the next and when it flourishes, it will blossom.
Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see or use as examples for you to emulate?
Forest Whitaker is one to emulate in the field.
Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
Nate Parker from the industry and my father, Matthew Echeazu.
Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.
The Bible, Things Fall Apart, and Roots.
Why do you consider continued learning important?
You never know it all. Things change with time. It keeps you on your toes and reignites inspiration.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Prayers, Practice, Perseverance, and Promotion
What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
I use it for research, networking, staying connected with family and friends, marketing, as well as inspiration.
What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life and/or career?
Adobe Premiere. I’ve learned to direct and edit my own content when needed.
Please define your personal brand.
In the name Conphidance, “CON” stands for conscious, “PH” stands for philosophical and “I-DANCE” represents entertainer — basically I’m a conscious, philosophical entertainer. I strive to inspire people by building self-confidence one person at a time.
What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
Nigeria. It will always be home, a beautiful country no matter how man tries to make it.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
People loving each other as equals.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Travel outside the country more.
What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
It takes truth to who you are and standing firm to what you believe in while having a good support group.
What keeps you inspired?
Knowing that there are still more people to reach.
What Scripture(s) are you leaning on?
Mark 12:31 Love your neighbor as yourself.
How do you stay connected with fans?
Social Media but I’m not a fan of being too attached because it can take you away from being strong relationships.
What’s on your playlist?
I love music and tend to dance a lot so anything positive and inspirational. African music hits home big time though.
Where did you vacation this summer?
At home, in my workspace, creating.
You can see the phenomenal work of Conphidance as CJ in “Complications” which premieres on Thursday, June 18 at 9 p.m. EST..To keep up and stay connected with Conphidance, visit his website at www.conphidance.com.