Acting on stage, film tasking in different ways — Omowumi Dada
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I was born in Lagos and I grew up in a family of six—three elder brothers and my parents. It was quite a small family but it was fun. I was the only girl and also the last child. Growing up with my brothers was very interesting. I was a tomboy, and they used to bully me a lot, so I had to fight to be heard and seen. But, it was very interesting. Our parents loved us and we loved them too.
For my elementary education, I attended Ifako International School, Ifako, Lagos. I proceeded to Command Day Secondary School, Oshodi, also in Lagos. I went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Art from the University of Lagos.
I get my inspiration first from God. He is the giver of talents and creativity. He is my strength and source, both as a person and as a creative. He gave me the passion for the arts, and I draw inspiration from that.
In recent times, I have returned to the stage. I was in Wole Soyinka’s play, Trials of Brother Jero, directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters, and it was my first time on stage in a long time. It was such a beautiful experience. I am also working on a film that I cannot talk about for now because we signed a non-disclosure agreement. However, I know it is something that a lot of people will love when it is released.
We cannot run away from the fact that social media has come to stay, and it is playing an important role as a tool to project one’s art. However, I don’t get carried away by social media. I control the things I put there. As much as social media has further made the world a global village, the onus is still on one to control the narrative that goes on social media.
I keep my private life private, and whatever I put on social media are the things that I want to be out there.
The first time I acted on stage— around 2004 or 2005—it was for a big play we had while I was still in secondary school. Someone had come from outside the school to teach a few of us drama, and we later had a drama presentation. However, my first time on a proscenium stage was at the university for one of my courses. The title of the play was Moremi, written by Lekan Balogun and directed by Femi Oke, who at that time was my senior in school.
The beautiful thing about being a student of the University of Lagos then was that our lecturers used to invite professionals from the industry to watch us on stage as we were performing. A few professionals came to watch the play and I guess they spotted my talent. From then, I started doing stage plays outside the school. In my second year in the university, I did my second play, which was a musical titled, The Vision of Saint Benedict. It was directed by William Ekpo. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
Acting on stage and acting on screen are two different experiences. The techniques, medium and approach are different. With stage, one has to know one’s lines from beginning to the end, and one would get instant response from one’s audience. With the feedback from the audience, one would instantly know if one is doing it right or not.
With screen, it is also interesting. I love the fact that both mediums challenge one in different ways. They are both extreme and different. I love them for the different ways they challenge me as an actor.
My parents allowed their children to become whatever they wanted to be. They believed they had trained us well enough and had given us the best education for us to discern what we want to do with our lives. They trust our sense of judgment. When I decided to become an actor, it wasn’t far from who my parents had seen me grow up to be. However, at some point, I had felt I was going to become a lawyer because I was passionate about law.
There are many challenges that come with being in the industry. I started acting before the advent of social media, and it was even more challenging then than now. The only notices for audition were through word of mouth, and when someone probably talked about it. But now, audition notices are everywhere on social media. All the information one needs can be accessed from one’s phone. Back then, whenever we went for auditions, it was always rowdy. There were times I attended auditions with the last money I had. But, I was certain that I was meant to be in the industry. I was not scared to climb the ladder of success. I got both ‘no’ and ‘yes’. I celebrated the ‘yes’, and I wasn’t hard on myself for the ‘no’.
Back then, the industry did not pay as much as it does now.
Today, some of the challenges we face include not having the right script that one believes in; stories that challenge one enough as an actor and project one to the right audience.
I have never been a victim of bullying online. I respect myself and don’t put my private life out there, so I don’t think anybody would have any reason to troll or bully me.
I respect myself a lot. I don’t cross my boundary, and I try not to do things that would hurt people. I don’t meddle in other people’s affairs, and I don’t disrespect people. I stay away from things that could cause problems for me.
I love my fans and they love me in return. I try as much as possible to reply all their messages and comments on social media. When I meet them in person, I give them time and attention. Seeing people appreciate my craft is very humbling. I have a beautiful relationship with my fans. They go out of their way to support me.
I am not really ‘big’ on whether I am famous or not. Rather, I focus on projecting my talent to the world, using my craft as a tool to tell stories, change narratives, educate and entertain people. I consider that to be more important than being famous. Of course, fame brings one so much love and acceptance. I love the fact that people see me and get excited.
On the other hand, there are certain challenges that come with fame, especially when one is going to a public event. One has to dress the part, and that could be stressful because sometimes, one just wants to wear a simple dress and not be noticed. Sometimes it is that time of the month (menstruation) and one just wants to be in one’s, but one cannot really do that.
I cannot mention any particular movie giving me a breakthrough, because I have done quite a number of movies and TV series over the years. I think the series that got me to be noticed by many people is Jemeji.
I will like to act in a biopic. I am also looking forward to playing the hero in an action movie.
I don’t like to play roles that are similar to who I really am. The more detached the character is from me, the more excited I get to play it.
Some of the notable characters I have played are Nurse Kemi Kaziru in Married to the Game. She is just evil (laughs). Also, there is Linda in Oloture. She is a prostitute, who smokes. However, I don’t smoke in real life and I am definitely not a prostitute. Having to play that character was very stressful, but I loved it.
I am very passionate about my work, the people in my life, family and friends. I want the world to be a better place. I genuinely like to see people happy.
I do voice-overs. I also love to sing, dance and fight taekwondo.
Every opportunity that I get, I just want to be on my bed. I might not be sleeping but I would just rest. I sometimes love being with my friends. I love karaoke as well, and I swim to relax my nerves.
I like to be comfortable in the things that I wear. I like big clothes with pockets. There are two ways though. Sometimes, I want to wear big clothes with puff pockets, and sometimes, I just want to wear something short and show my legs; it depends on my mood. Basically, I love to be comfortable, classy and unique in whatever I am wearing.