After studying Law, former Rhythm 93.7 FM On-Air-Personality, Omoye Uzamere, obtained diplomas in Performing Arts, French and a certificate in Production Training at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London. And for the love of acting, she left broadcasting to focus on stage productions. She has since worked on productions such as Subterfuge, Put A Ring On It, Aduke Hotel, Jamestown, Oluronbi and Second Chance, among others. Omoye, who recently staged The Mistress of Wholesome at the Lagos Theatre Festival,speaks to DUPE AYINLA-OLASUNKANMI, on her passion for the arts, among other issues. Excerpts:
Tell us about your career journey?
The truth is I have had an interesting career. When I moved from Port Harcourt to Lagos in 2009, I had thought that I would have huge career, going by the passion I had for the profession, but I learnt that it was beyond passion. I learnt about the industry; how things needed to be done. I call myself a late bloomer because I studied Law and you know how Nigeria is with strike. I had worked a bit before coming to Lagos and I felt if I had studied Theatre Arts, like I wanted as a teenager, then I would have been in the industry earlier. But along the line, I discovered that the skills that I had acquired have been useful and helpful. Also all the practices that I had had, had been helpful too because I joined a theatre group in 2003, and even though it was an amateur group, we had workshops and had people from Lagos State come to give us workshop. We took it seriously, because the passion was there.
When I moved to Lagos, I trained a bit and started working for Joke Silva. I was doing everything. I was her PA. She mentored me and she still does. I then moved to Rhythm FM as an OAP for about six years while working as an actor. At some point, there was talk about being a full time actor. I don’t know about being a full time actor except you are working from 5am to 9pm. But my problem with full acting is that every actor does something else. Even as a mother, you are not a full time actor.
When did the change take place?
I moved away to concentrate on producing and performing. It felt as though on radio, people were like acting is her number one and on set; she has a radio gig, so let’s not bother calling her for this job. As a producer, it was just hectic. There were times I would be on set from 8am and go on air until 4am and then go back on set 8 o clock the following morning. I was doing that crazy schedule.
Going back to my expectations when I came, I felt that it would be easy. I thought it will be simple, that I would just come in because I was talented and passionate and that as a hardworking professional that, that was all you needed to success. But I have come to realise what success is for me as an individual as against what success is for world. I have come to understand what my purpose is and have been able to create career goals. So all these things have sort of created a niche for me and I am happy. I want to be known for good work, more than anything else. I want the work to speak to people and it is happening and I am really pleased.
For movie lovers, it is like you are cheating. What are some of the major differences between stage and feature film?
The major differences are you are projecting you emotion and voice and action to an audience that is present, but they cannot see your face because they are far away from you. But with film as an actor you have to internalise and having done that it has to be organic. I don’t want to say real because all emotion is real in both film and stage. But you have to project it with film. And they say television is a blend of the two because you are projecting film and a lot of acting is in the eye; the camera is right in front of you too.
Memorising lines, how do you cope with that?
We do it. I have learnt different tactics of memorising lines. So I don’t think it is hard for me once I set into the rhythm, I get the work done.
Which is more challenging?
It is hard to say which is more challenging. But they are having their different demands and if you are not strong, you cannot do stage because you need stamina. In this play, we were standing all through. But with film, they can cut when you are tired and need to take a rest. Stage is for people with stamina, but with film you have long hours of shooting and you have to keep repeating the same emotion. But trust me, they are all the same.
Tell us about The Mistress of Wholesome
It was written by Jacob Amabour. I found this play online and I wrote to get the right and bought the right for the play to do it. It is about a wife who found out that the mistress of her husband has broken into their home, demanding that the husband falls back for her. He was actually trying to break up with her because they were going to adopt a baby and he wants to be a good father. He does not want to play the bad boy anymore, but the mistress is saying ‘no man, you have been with me for the past 11 years, you can’t just leave me now because of one baby’. The play addresses infidelity in a reverse way. This time, it is not the wife confronting the mistress saying stay away from my man, it is the mistress saying I want to retain my place and there is a shared discontent of these two women. They are sharing the same man and both are not happy.
So it bears the question who is going to suffer? Is it the wife or the mistress? Or is it you sir? Because what happened in this play is that the women became aligned; and they were seen sharing ice-cream while the man is in the booth. It is a question that we need to answer and the reason I am staging this play is because I want to start the conversation. Also, we talked about adoption.
Why are you drawn to adoption?
Honestly, I don’t know. When I did a play in 2014, that was five years ago, adoption did not occur to me then. But I don’t know why it came to be, but I feel like God wants to do something. I am single, my niece is drawn to me and I said I want a daughter. So I said to someone jokingly that what if I adopt a baby. And the person was like it is not in God’s will. His purpose is a man and a woman and their child. And I was like, why? I went to research it and I discovered that adoption is one of the things that make us Christians. Because God the Father and the son adopted us, we were not meant to be in the plan. And I realised that as people, it is our duty to adopt, whether you have children or not. Though I don’t know if I can mould myself up to the standard when the time comes, but this is message I am carrying that whether you have children or not, I think we should all look into adoption.
I think if about 200,000 families adopt a child in Lagos, do you know how many children will be taken off the streets?
You mentioned being single, is it because you are busy working?
(Laughs) Are you asking me why I am single? I don’t know why I am single. I don’t know if it is about my standard being high. But if I have to pick something; I will have to say maybe my standard is too high and maybe because I am an actor and some people might not be too comfortable with that.
Is the OAP part of you gone?
Far from it, I love talking. So I am still going to go back to radio if I get the opportunity that suits my lifestyle and schedule at the moment.