An insightful interview with the amazingly talented British actress taking the world by storm- Amaka Okafor!
Please introduce yourself to the readers:
Actress and Singer- Amaka Okafor
How and when did you first get into performing?
My father is a singer songwriter, and has also acted from time to time. I grew up on the road with him, and I think I always knew I wanted to be up there with him. When my parents separated, I went off the rails a bit, and my mum wasn’t sure what to do with me. My god father suggested she send me to the local youth theater (called Stage 2 and the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham), and I LOVED it!
Who were some of your biggest inspirations, growing up?
My father, but also Eddie Murphy! Don’t laugh, but when I saw Beverly Hills Cop 1 for the first time, I thought I wanted to be a police woman to be like Eddie, but then I realized I wanted to perform like him. He is so free in that film, I can’t ever get tired of watching it. I LOVE Kate Winslet, alsol. I think she is absolutely gorgeous to watch, and I believe her 100% in every role I’ve seen her do. I also sing, and Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush have always been massive influences for me. Not just for their sound, but their whole attitude, vibe and refusal to fit in with what society expects them to do.
What kind have training have you done?
I didn’t go to drama school, we couldn’t afford it, so I went to university and just started from there. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had some amazing jobs, and working with talented actors has been and continues to be a wonderful training ground for me.
What has been your favorite role to play so far an why?
I actually think the role I’m doing now is my favorite. It’s a new play by a writer called Laura Lomas. She’s amazing. The character is called Leah Bird, and when I read the script for the audition, I thought ‘I have to play this role’. It’s difficult to explain, but I love becoming her, and then being her. It’s a one woman show called ‘Bird’, and the challenge of doing a one woman show is immense. I’m really enjoying it though, and I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to do a one woman show so early on in my career.
What kind of projects do you have coming up?
I’m doing ‘Bird’ at the moment and the show will do a UK tour next year. I also have some radio plays coming up, for the BBC.
Who would be your ideal co-star and why?
If you mean, what type of person would I like to work with, then I would say, an open person. When the people you work with are open, you get a deeper, more honest connection with them, and the audience will feel that.
If you mean, name a famous person, then maybe Kate Winslet. I have no idea how she works, but I love what she does, and it would be an honor to work with her.
What are your plans for the future?
Film is what I really want to be doing, in the US as well as the UK. I feel that my ethnicity sometimes confuses people in the UK. My mother is Punjabi (Indian) and my father is Nigerian, and people are never really too sure where to put me, casting wise. When I go for the ‘Mixed Race’ characters, I am darker than the other girls, as they assume mixed race means a Black/White mix, and when I go for the ‘Black’ roles, they think I’m too ‘light skinned’ to be ‘proper black’, whatever that means. For some reason, I just have a feeling that in the US, people might not have such a hard time placing me. There are so many mixes there, and I could be any number of them.
Check out the trailer below for the Tom Stoppard radio play, starring Bill Nighy, Rufus Sewell and others, just released on the BBC. Amaka Okafor is playing the lead role on the voiceover.