Trendy Spotlight: Actress Adepero Oduye
Actress Adepero Oduye is a relevant player in an industry that demands the best and challenges your self-preservation.
In 2011 Oduye flexed her acting chops and won rave reviews for her affecting portrayal of an African-American teenager who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as she embraces her lesbian identity.
Pariah was the independent film that ushered Oduye into the spotlight and gave her the ammunition she needed to prove her validity as a well-respected actress.
She received a much deserved nomination for Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a shout out from one of the most adored actresses on the planet, Meryl Streep, who gracefully acknowledged Oduye’s uncanny talent while accepting her award at the Golden Globes.
Not a bad way to be introduced to a community of well-established heavyweights by being endorsed by one of the best actresses of modern times!
So far Oduye has managed to keep her fans engaged by proving that she is more than just a one hit wonder.
She is solidifying a resume that illustrates her versatility and adventurous tendencies. She held her own in the television remake of Steel Magnolias by redefining the role of Annelle previously played by Daryl Hannah in the 1989 movie version.
Oduye can add Broadway star to her growing list of credits. She just recently made her Broadway debut in The Trip to Bountiful, taking over the role of Thelma, from predecessor Condola Rashad. The play also features veteran Cicely Tyson, the lovely and sultry Vanessa Williams and the charismatic Cuba Gooding Jr.
It is a breathtakingly refreshing production that showcases the vulnerability of the human condition in a relatable way and Oduye definitely exudes a level of precision that demonstrates her instinctual stage presence.
MTB caught up with the striking actress to discuss her road to stardom thus far and what her predictions are for her promising future.
MTB: How did you catch the acting bug and was it challenging as a Nigerian descendant to pursue your dream?
AO: Yes – I was going to be a doctor and I got to college and realized I didn’t want to pursue that anymore. At that point it was a wakeup call and I realized that life is to short to not do what you don’t want to do. I took an acting class my senior year and loved it. I had always been creative but never thought it could be something that I could turn into a career. After I took my first class, everything changed and I knew I was going to be an actor. My mom asked me about medical school after graduation, and I just told her that I wanted to be an actor, and that was that.
MTB: What propels your decision when it comes to choosing the roles that speak to you the most?
AO: There has to be something about the material and the character, it has to be authentic, kind of nuanced and completely fleshed out. It also helps if it involves people I respect and actors that I have always wanted to work with. So a combination of all those factors helps.
MTB: That was pretty evident in Pariah, where the director tapped into your talent and helped you flush that through.
AO: Oh yeah! It’s amazing how life works because I actually considered myself an extra, and they ended up calling me to audition for the lead. Sometimes when you are pursuing your dreams people see something in you that you don’t necessarily see in yourself. So it’s ironic that I was prepared to be an extra and I ended up landing the lead role.
MTB: How would you describe your Broadway debut in The Trip to Bountiful and has this increased your love for the theater?
AO: It’s been surreal. I mean the fact that I get to be on stage with Cicely Tyson is so amazing. It’s been joyful, crazy and fun!
I have always loved the theater – there is nothing like that day-to-day energy and performing in front of a whole group of people. And the response you get from the audience can be very vocal and interactive. So it’s been a chance to try different things everyday and experiment.
MTB: We have read about your upcoming role in the Steve McQueen star-studded film Twelve Years a Slave alongside the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, can you give some insight on what that process was like and what other projects are in the horizon?
AO: It was also surreal and an awesome and challenging experience. Getting to watch people work in their element, like Chiwetel who I have admired for so long, and to watch people pursuing their craft and working hard at it. Everyone was so generous, considerate and professional.
It was one of the greatest achievements of my life and extremely rewarding and I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it.
I am working on personal projects – a photo project based on the first time my younger brother got stopped by the cops. I will also expand it into a short that will focus on the plight of other young black and latino men who have suffered the same inquisitions.