Olunike Adeliyi is a rising star, nominated for her role in BOOST for Best Supporting Actress by the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. Her strong presence can also been seen in Darken where she plays a warrior, and the upcoming feature, Chaos Walking alongside Tom Holland (Spider-man: Homecoming) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Get to know the talented actress in our interview below!
Tell us about your upcoming feature film, BOOST. What can you tell us about your character, Amina Nour?
Amina is a hard working woman, caring for her two sons, and trying to keep her family together and out of harms way. She reminds me of my mother, an immigrant to Canada trying to make a better life for herself. Amina found she had to work ten times harder than most people who are originally from Canada, to prove she deserves to be a part of the Canadian fabric.
Like my mother, where I drew inspiration to play the character from, Amina is also a single mother, which increases her responsibilities to keep food on the table, a roof over her family’s heads, as well as trying to raise her children right and at the same time keeping them safe. She does the best job she can with integrity and strength, but soon finds it difficult to relate to her teenage son Hakeem who’s searching for his identity as a new Canadian and getting caught up in street life.
What was the biggest emotional challenge when it came to playing Amina? How do you think the audience will relate or react to her on screen?
The biggest emotional challenge for me was revealing my my own experiences of being a single mother and the everyday worries I have with doing a good job. It’s a mother’s nightmare to get motherhood wrong. There is so much pressure on mothers more than fathers to raise good human beings. We struggle with validation from society while doing the hardest job in the entire world. Everything reflects on us, even the father being absent. I worry about my child on a daily basis and the audience will be able to see that in my work, including the immense love between mother and son.
How did you connect with Amina yourself as an actress?
Despite Amina’s serious responsibilities as a mother, she’s humorous. I had to also display her light. The whimsical part of her that comes and goes, through to the weight of her stresses. These are human beings that are multi-dimensional and have hopes and dreams. It was important for me to show that there is a lot of love and fun within the family as well. Life is not all about the struggles. That sort of film is boring to me and clichéd. Also, after playing Amina and seeing the film, I had a greater amount of respect and gratitude towards my immigrant parents.
You are also going to be in sci-fi movie! What can you tell us about Darken and your character in it?
Darken is a sci-fi feature about a bizarre, mysterious, and violent unknown world with danger and death around every corner. It’s designed like a violent prison-like world of labyrinthine rooms, interconnected with no apparent rhyme or reason and no way of escape. My character Kali is a no non-sense warrior who creates and uses makeshift weapons expertly in her continual battle for survival. Kali’s intense stares alone will have you shaking in your boots, because she’s very animalistic and unpredictable. While radicals on the run, she and her close friend, Mercy, keep one step ahead of the murderous disciples of the evil high priestess, Clarity, who hunt them down because they are believed to be traitors.
What is your favorite thing about entering a different world in sci-fi movies? Is there a specific type of character you’d like to play one day?
I have played characters in sci-fi before in projects such as Killjoys and Being Human. I enjoy the mythical story telling with fictional worlds we have not heard of before. We spend so much time in reality that having these different galaxies to escape to keeps our creative juices alive and artistic. I have another film called Chaos Walking, directed by Doug Liman, coming soon and it’s such an incredible sci-fi experience. There is technology that has not been done before. That’s all I can say about that for now.
I’d love to star in a TV series about my own everyday life experiences. I have an incredibly unpredictable well lived life. I have stories for days that should be told in a comedy. After all, life is just a big comic joke. I’m also aiming to play a Superhero. Nothing will stop that from happening.
Are you proud to be working as an actress now during a time when Hollywood is standing up more and more for diversity and representation in film and television? What do you hope for in the future?
Of course I’m happy for the major diversity shifts happening in Hollywood. It’s about time diverse stories involving different cultures and women be told on the same level as white male stories. They can’t pump them out fast enough, because now we have to play catch up. I grew up watching film and television images that did not reflect my own. When there was a face I could relate to I clung to it. Watching my heroes like Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, Angela Bassett, and Denzel Washington helped to shape the narrative that I too am important and visible, but there needed to be so much more. I hope this major shift continues and isn’t seen as just the next trend. I’m not a trend, I’m an artist who deserves equal opportunity.
Tell us about your other upcoming projects, including the upcoming film, Chaos Walking with Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley.
I said a bit about Chaos Walking in a previous question. It’s going to be so dope for sci-fi lovers. Tom and Daisy are incredible young talents that were a pleasure to work with. I get why they carry such major franchises. They are true stars that will have longevity as artists.
Thank you so much for answering our questions, Olunike. We have one final one: if you were to becoming a superhero, what would your powers be and why?
My superhero would have super speed and strength, kung fu mastery, mind reading, and the ability to control the weather. A mixture of Cheetara, Shuri, and Storm. Wink, wink Black Panther!