I love roles that make me uncomfortable –Genoveva Umeh, actress

By Damilola Fatunmise 

Having featured in quite a number of Nollywood movies that include Blood Sister, Far from Home, Lizard, and One Lagos Night, Nigerian-British trained actor, Genoveva Umeh has become a force to reckon with in the industry.

In this interview, Genoveva spoke about her transition from law to acting, role in MTV Shuga season 5, and challenges amongst other issues. Here are excerpts:

Tell us about your role in MTV Shuga season 5.

I played Chika, a smart, talented digital artiste, who is fighting to inform people about COVID-19. This is a topic we are exploring with the MTV Shuga show post pandemic. Through her eyes, you will experience and see people that have dealt with the long-term effect of COVID-19. A lot of young people will relate to her, and her story is important for all those who have dealt with the pandemic.

You have featured in a couple of movies, how did it all start for you?

I fell in love with acting in high school; I found that my drama class quickly became my favourite subject. The two hours we had weren’t enough, so I fell in love with the idea of stepping outside of school to explore – going to see the theaters, watch plays and also enjoy playing. I think my soul loves playing and I really fell in love with that. I found out about a drama school – Identity School of Acting, which I kept attending; it felt like an extra-curricular activity that I enjoyed. As I grow older, I felt like it was just a hobby, perhaps because of my culture, because I knew I was first generation immigrants; my parents worked so hard to come to the UK. I felt that mentioning an art-related subject to them would be a disservice especially when the idea was to come over for greener pastures. So, I studied law, I quickly figured that law wasn’t what I wanted, and so I went back to acting and it felt like a comfortable ground. As I watched a lot of Nollywood movies, I knew I would find my grounds here, so I did a lot of networking while I was in the university. And the rest is history.

At what point did you decide to come home to join Nollywood?

That was in 2016. I just finished my first year in the university; as much as I enjoyed studying law, I wasn’t passionate about it. I looked for opportunities and just wanted to get back to my hobby – acting. So, I searched for acting opportunities online, sent in self-tape for auditions and an opportunity came through. And so, I had to travel to Nigeria – Enugu to film for a month the same year, 2016. Everything great and awful happened and with that experience, I knew I would try to work in this space – Nollywood. So, when I graduated in 2018, a week later, I was in Nigeria.

What has been the experience like for you since you launched out in Nigeria?

I have learnt that it is very important to be yourself, know who you are and being true to yourself when it comes to Nollywood and life. I approached acting from a passionate point of view, and I feel like, because I have approached it in that way, I have been open and blessed with opportunities coming my way. For me, I wanted to work hard, experience opportunities, watch films and appreciate the work that people are doing in this space. So, I think it’s been challenging, especially having to adjust living in Nigeria, and it’s a really tough place to live and celebrate the wins when they come. It’s been a learning experience for me.

How and what influenced your style of acting?

Acting has always been something I have enjoyed watching, and I also discovered I could do it. Essentially, I am a huge fan of anyone who tells me the truth on screen or on stage, and that is my idea of acting.

Are there roles you cannot take on?

Ironically, no, I love the challenge. I am really open to roles that make me uncomfortable, because the more the challenge, the better for me and I can really get to work. I look forward to playing a more challenging role similar to the Woman King, because it requires intense trainings and I look forward to them in future.

Have you considered being in Hollywood yet?

I am open, and by God’s grace if it comes to my plate and I get to audition, hopefully in a place where I get to tell authentic African stories, that will be great. As long as it is representative of the true character and the kind of role I want to play, that is fine.

If you didn’t take on acting, what profession would you have settled for?

I would just be an acting coach. I will be watching people and making sure that people get it right, those things excite me. Put me in any room where there’s an acting setting, I love it because it challenges me and it’s really fun.

So, it’s safe to say your life revolves around acting?

Yes, definitely it does. And what I have learnt in my profession is that I am my work, I have to constantly make sure I am feeding myself with information that aids my journey.

What do you consider basics for getting into acting, for young people?

It is important to note that acting is a really tough profession, and if you are a young person eager to learn, passion will take you very far because passion will drive you to show up to things that you can learn from. These include film festivals, watching plays, meeting with people you are inspired by, and supporting the industry. If you are passionate about acting, go for it, it will be tough but enjoy it and make sure you are keeping tab on your ways.

The post I love roles that make me uncomfortable –Genoveva Umeh, actress appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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