SUPER SATURDAY STORIES

You could describe her as a cross-over artiste and that would not be out of place. ]Although she started out acting in secondary school, Nkiruka ‘Kiki’ Omeili finds pleasure being in front of the camera rather than being in the operating room. That being that the eclectic space in Nigeria’s movie industry accommodates a lot of professionals from other fields to make Nollywood a home. Best known as Lovette in ‘Lekki Wives’, the hit television series may have given Nkiruka’s acting career the needed push to become well established in the film industry. With over 40 movie credits, including short films, and television series, the actress presently is in a couple of movies meant for the big screen that are at various stages of production and post-production. The medical doctor-turned-actress speaks with Ferdinand Ekechukwu about her career, medical profession and relationship

Who is Kiki Omeili?
Kiki Omeili is God-fearing; down-to-earth; and happy-go-lucky. She’s 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 set are you on at the moment?
At the moment, I’m working on a movie called, A Rose For Freddy, with fantastic actors like Gregory Ojefua, Osas Ajibade and Udoka Oyeka. The producer is Chike Nwoffiah, a US-based director who also curates a film festival called Silicon Valley Africa Film Festival in California.

What’s your idea of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Nollywood?
I think the term ‘New Nollywood’ just refers to a newer group of filmmakers (actors, producers, directors, writers) who entered the industry and ‘old Nollywood’ refers to the filmmakers who provided a base for the movie industry to grow in the first place.

How many movies have you starred in?
Somewhere in the region of 40 movies – inclusive of short films.

Do you think the number of movies you have starred in have given you the popularity you deserve?
Popularity; I think the movie audience might be in a better position to answer that question. I do my job I’ve never really stopped to question or assess popularity.

As an actor is there any role you cannot or may not want to play?
I wouldn’t want to play a role that would involve blasphemy. I’m pretty much open to anything else.

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.

Just for clarity, can you name a particular person?
There’s no particular person. There are several of such people, home and abroad. An example of such a person abroad would be Paris Hilton. While at home I would not like to mention names. I don’t want trouble. I only give it double to whoever wants it.

How many followers do you have on your social media platforms?
That number keeps growing. My Twitter handle is @kikiomeili across all social media platforms. Interested parties should please go and check. Some would be inspired to follow if they like what they see. Sometimes people like to do a bit of work/investigation on their own.

Aside 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’.

Could it be for any phobia you abandoned medical practice for acting?
No phobia; just a passion for the arts. And 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 practise medicine.

It was quite an easy transition from medicine to acting for you. Tell us about it and did you ever practise medicine?
I laugh out loud whenever people say it was an easy transition for me from medicine to acting. It wasn’t easy – not at all. 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. Yes, I did practise briefly before I started acting. It was a year of housemanship at University College Hospital, Ibadan, a year of NYSC in a local government area health centre and about six months in a private facility before delving into acting.

Some say acting doesn’t pay much as being a doctor. Will you soon return to medicine?
That’s not true about acting not paying as much as practising medicine, especially in Nigeria. How much you earn as an actor is dependent on many factors. Money has never informed my career choices. If I were to go back to clinical practice it wouldn’t be because of money.

What is one thing you hold dearly?
I hold my integrity and principles very deadly. 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.

Being that image is very important to many celebrities what pressure does it put on you?
I wouldn’t say that maintaining a certain Image puts me under pressure because the image that I present is who I really am. So it’s quite easy to just be me.

You were born and raised in Lagos, how well can you speak Yoruba or any other language?
I speak Igbo quite well. Growing up, my dad made sure that we went to the village every year so I am very familiar with the Igbo language and culture. As a matter of fact, I host a travelogue in Igbo called, ‘Onye Ije’ which showcases sights and sounds in Igbo land.

What’s your idea of love and do you believe in love?
Love is best expressed and felt rather than spoken about. I definitely do believe in Love.

You love to sing and know the lyrics to a lot of songs. Has it ever crossed your mind that you could go into music?
No. Thank you. Would love to do musicals (stage and movies) but that’s about it.

Have you found the right man?
I am not searching. But I hope ‘he’ is. I don’t believe that a woman should be doing the searching. To search for a wife is a man’s job. The Bible says, ‘He’ that finds a wife finds a good thing. That is the ‘He’ that I’m referring to.

What’s your hobby and what form of sports do you engage in?
My hobby is watching movies. I’m a couch potato like I said earlier. I swim and run. I’d like to take up tennis at some point.

QUOTE: That’s not true about acting not paying as much as practising medicine, especially in Nigeria. How much you earn as an actor is dependent on many factors. Money has never informed my career choices. If I were to go back to clinical practice it wouldn’t be because of money