October 29, 2017 – Nollywood Actress Kiki Omeili: I Never Failed A Course In Medical School, I Didn’t Drop Out For Acting
Nollywood actress Nkiruka Omeili who obtained a medical degree from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos recently reveals to Adetutu Audu why she holds integrity and principles very dearly.
See excerpts of her latest interview…
You are known to act antagonistic roles, would you say they are coincident?
Well, I think it’s a case of the most popular roles being antagonistic roles. I also play a lot of roles where my character is the victim. I just think the “antagonistic” roles are more popular.
Would you say you have abandoned medical practice for acting?
I didn’t ‘abandon’ medicine. I actually don’t like it when people say that. I’m actively involved in health advocacy and awareness. I am a U-report advocate (a UNICEF subsidiary) and always lend my voice to causes such as cervical cancer prevention. Even my short film, ‘Unprotected’, was to promote health awareness; once a doctor, always a doctor. There’s more than one way to practice medicine.
How easy was it for you moving from medicine to acting?
It was not an easy transition for me, from medicine to acting. It took a lot of doggedness, hard work, perseverance, dedication, patience, determination, countless auditions and rejections. I’m glad that I made it look easy though. That might inspire or encourage more people to pursue their passion.
When you are offered a role, what do you do next?
The first thing I do is to read the script. If I can visualise the character from the script and the story sits well with me, then I take it from there. I learn everything about the character. Her backstory, what informs her decisions about several things, and then, if need be, I do the necessary research to help me adequately interpret the character.
Which is your most memorable moment during the course of your career?
To be honest, every time my work is appreciated is very memorable for me. It is great to be recognised for doing good work. That being said, winning the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the African Film Awards in 2012, winning the GIAMA award for Best Supporting Actress in 2015 and winning the award for Best Actress at Short Film Festival stand out for me.
How challenging has it been over the years?
Acting is hard work; that is a fact. It requires a lot of discipline and dedication. So, it’s not easy. There is also a lot of competition, so one constantly has to reinvent the wheel and prove oneself.
How do you keep fit as an actor mentally?
As soon as I’m done with a role, I try to purge myself of the character. It’s possible to get in so deep that one continues to behave like the character even after filming. I just go back to my life and the things and people I love.
How do you take a character in a script to an honest, believable and breathing person physically?
As I said, if I can visualise myself in the role, then I believe it. And if I believe it, then the audience believes it. The character comes to life. I’m just the tool through which that happens.
Describe a memorable character you once played
Blessing in Walter Banger’s “Gbomo Gbomo Express” will always stand out for me. She was a pidgin-speaking, gun-wielding, uncouth and rough-around-the-edges kind of girl. To pull that off believably is still such a thrill for me.
Has it been rewarding being an actor and has the take home pay been taking you home?
I like the way you put that. “Has the take home pay been taking you home?” (Laughs). I’ve had a very rewarding career as an actor. I’ve had the opportunity to play a lot of diverse roles, and that’s something that I’m very grateful for.
Truth be told, in the beginning, the remuneration was nothing to write home about. But with more recognition and more work under my belt, it’s a world better. So, yes, it does take me home. (Laughs).
What is your success secret?
My attitude to work and life in general; I like to keep it positive.
Who are those who influence you in life – the good, the bad and the ugly?
My parents have been my greatest influences. I thank them every day for the way I turned out.
They did a fabulous job, if I say so myself. I honestly can’t think of anybody who has influenced me negatively.
You once said there are two kinds of people in the entertainment industry in Nigeria; those who are popular for their talent and those popular for just being popular. What do you mean by ‘just being popular’?
I mean some people are famous for being famous. You can’t really pinpoint what it is that they do that makes them popular. They are not actors, musicians, politicians, designers, writers, producers, or models.
Asides the fact that you a trained medical doctor, what else would you have been doing if you weren’t acting?
I would probably be a writer. I have been writing since I was a child and my mum actually encouraged me, but writing is so intellectually tasking and takes up so much time. I should probably find the time to do more of that. I actually wrote the story of the film that I produced, ‘Unprotected’.
I am God-fearing, down-to-earth, and happy-go-lucky. Hard-working and passionate about work. I love music and movies. I love to sing (and even rap). I am a person of integrity and proud of my heritage. That’s me, I guess.
What is one thing you hold dearly?
I hold my integrity and principles very dearly. I cannot compromise my integrity to fit in or be accepted. I cannot do without movies! I’m a couch potato. I watch all sorts of movies and TV series, both local and international.
You once forced Time magazine to do a retraction on the interview you granted, what really went wrong?
I did in 2014. I granted the interview and the interviewer didn’t have a tape recorder. She later mixed up her notes and wrote that I dropped out of medical school.
The fact that I am a medical doctor and never failed a single course when I was in medical school is a thing of pride for me. It was not easy to get that degree. It took a lot of hard work, discipline and dedication. So when I read that, I knew that I wouldn’t rest until they printed a retraction. I have “Law Allianz” to thank for that. That’s the law firm that handled the case for me.