Friday , May 20 2022
Meet ‘Blood Sisters’ breakout star in ‘10 things to know about Genoveva Umeh’

Meet ‘Blood Sisters’ breakout star in ‘10 things to know about Genoveva Umeh’

Congratulations on your role. It was a fantastic performance; walk us through how you got cast?

Thank you very much. I enrolled into Ebonylife Creative Academy for some Acting training in early 2021 as part of their first intake. Honestly, I’d lost a lot of confidence in myself and the 2020 pandemic meant I hadn’t worked for months. I’d also lost a big acting opportunity in the same year too so I was looking for a safe space to reinvent myself & how I approach my career moving forward. In the three month course, our Head of Acting, Drikus Volschenk, made sure that we knew to bet on ourselves. All faculties collaborated on a few shortfilms, Kenneth Gyang, HOD of the Directing faculty at the time, noticed my work and recommended me to the CEO of EbonyLife Media, Mo Abudu.

I had to audition for the character ‘Timeyin’ in 2 days. I remember reading Timeyin’s part and being drawn to her. After my audition, I received the offer letter for the character of Timeyin. It was my dream come true because I grew up watching Nollywood films in my house in Enugu State, and as a young adult in university I started actively working to be a part of telling authentic African stories. This was my biggest opportunity yet and I couldn’t believe I was working on a Netflix deal with EbonyLife Studios who are renowned for their superb production value. God is Great.

What was the experience like filming Blood Sisters?

I had the time of my life working on the set of Blood Sisters. I remember sitting in our first table read and thinking how incredibly blessed I was to be working with acting legends & heavyweights that I’d either grown up watching and some that I had observed build their brand solely on the integrity of their craft. My Directors, Mr Biyi Bandele & Kenneth Gyang were open to my opinions before we shot each scene, I enjoyed the relationship of trust and flexibility that came with filming Blood Sisters. I loved getting in makeup, SFX and costume to help embody My character’s aura and personality. I looked forward to each day. I didn’t want the shoot to end.

How did you prepare for the character? We’re curious about your process?

I love to develop my characters. For each of Timeyin’s scenes, I first answer questions like: Who is she? Where is she? Where is she going? Then I read the script, noting what the character says about herself and what others say about her.

Second, I build her backstory with serious questions like: What were her parents like? Or mundane questions like: How did she sleep last night? In order to paint a picture of her life, it was essential to know what she wants and the obstacles stopping her from getting it.

I created a music playlist for Timeyin. I’d listen to it just before a scene, to get me into character. Then I’d show up on set, ready to trust my gut and play from my impulses, to ensure I truthfully engage with my scene partner. Unfortunately acting isn’t free therapy, its imaginative engagement for the entertainment of others and Timeyin’s character was so intense, that it was essential I morphed her something, I could step in and out of.

4. What was your hardest day on set?

My hardest day was between ‘the club scene’ and ‘bathroom scene’, but I’d be giving away spoilers. You’ll have to wait and see.

5. Who are the Umehs and how supportive have they been of your acting pursuits?

My parents are beautiful, Igbo people from Anambra State. My Dad is a computer engineer and my mum is a registered nurse.

We migrated permanently to London, UK in 2006. I have a 13 year-old-brother. As a kid, my parents encouraged my creative personality from church contemporary dances, to winning

dance competitions at children’s parties. As an adult, they trust me to work hard. They are my biggest fans and I feel protected by their prayers and countless facetime conversations of encouragement.

My friends think that I’m as free spirited as my parents, because my parents taught me to embrace being the best of African and Black British. My mum once said in Igbo that “Uukwa ruo oge ya, o daa,” which means ‘When the breadfruit is ready, it falls.” This is a proverb that teaches you patience to trust the process.

My Igbo name is Kenechukwu, which means ‘To thank God’. My Dad calls me ‘Orginal K’. My Parents are my favourite people in the world and I want to reward them for the sacrifices they consistently make for us.

6. How did you get started in Nollywood?

I was studying Law in 2014 and I became interested in Nollywood, because I started watching films shot by Nigerians in Nigeria. I had worked closely with the UK media consultant, Dj Abass as an usher for Nollywood London premieres. During Q/A sessions, I’d ask the filmmakers about working in Nigeria. I had connected with a few filmmakers who then gave me background acting opportunities. I sent audition tapes for casting calls to Nigerian producers, I was even invited to an audition for Ebonylife’s ‘On The Real’, unfortunately travelling to Nigeria for an audition in the middle of my studies wasn’t an option for me at the time. I got my first lead role in a series shot in Enugu. That was when I decided I wanted to tell authentic African stories. I returned to Lagos, to pursue my acting career, right after my graduation in 2018. I didn’t have a family home in Lagos, so it was the most daring thing I’d ever done, but it was worth risk!

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