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The EbonyLife and Times of Oreka Godis

She’s a woman of many wonders, an actress, content developer, creative writer, presenter for radio and television she’s none other than our Love Lounge presenter, Oreka Godis. Read on to find out the things you didn’t already know about the down-to-earth OAP.

 Q. Where did you grow up and what was life like for you?

A. My current five-year stretch in Lagos is the longest I’ve ever been in any place at the same time. My dad was in the Nigerian army; I’ve lived with different members of the Godis family over the years and I’d say I grew up with a sort of gypsy spirit – lots of travelling and relocating and sometimes never really staying long enough to get attached to a place. It’s made me curiously self-sufficient.

Q. What do you love most acting or presenting?

A. That’s like comparing apples and oranges. Humans are known to traditionally have five senses, the culmination of which gives the individual a whole experience. For me, all arms of my interests contribute towards my whole experience. I don’t think I could choose one over the other; they all flex such different parts of my body. That would be like asking me if I prefer seeing to being able to taste things.

I believe talent is a muscle that can and should be developed boundlessly. I am a budding writer, I might not sing anymore but I certainly still have that ability somewhere in me. From as far back as primary school, I performed at school events, participating in everything from the debate team to the weekly amateur nights at boarding school where I would write, direct and act in plays.

Hosting TV/Radio/events, painting, writing, producing, directing and acting are all things I’ve been doing for years as a hobby and am now working on executing on a professional level. I, for instance, really love writing. I love how you can create characters out of nothing in the same way I can paint and create a story where there was once just a blank page. I love how presenting on the radio has and hosting on TV is nurturing me. Being lucky enough to have a webseries, TV drama, movie and theatre credits to my repertoire is incredible. These are all just a fraction of what makes me who I am, to choose one over the other is to kill a part of me.

Q. Which actors/actresses do you admire?

A. Oh, there are a number of them – Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Thompson, Thandie Newton, Helena Bonham Carter, and for different reasons, Jessica Alba, Zooey Deschanel and people like Lucy Lui.

Q. You star in Victor Sanchez 5 part series “Dowry”, how was it different to anything you’ve acted in before?

A. Sanchez has such a remarkable mind and to know him, is to experience creation. He has done a lot of off the wall work like #HowSheLeftMyBrother and T.A.B.L.O.I.D. and even though I’ve worked with him on a number of projects in the past, none of that prepared me for his new baby, Dowry.

Dowry is a first of its kind in Nigeria not just because of the fact that it is a mini series but also because of the way the stories are going to unfold.  When Sanchez first spoke with me about Dowry I was really enthralled by the notion that just as American Horror Story and shows like True Detective broke the rule book on how stories can be told to TV audiences in America, Sanchez was going to do the same here with Dowry.

I spend a lot of my time on the phone this season which I guess is different to my time on T.A.B.L.O.I.D but because Sanchez is such a Dr Who fan, I wonder if I won’t be communicating via Tardis next time J

Q. Think back to your very first acting audition, what was it like?

A. It was nerve racking and I can’t say being at auditions or screen tests have gotten any easier either. I much prefer the moment when I have the job and can finally start getting my head around the character’s choices.

Q.What is the most absurd rumour you’ve heard or read about yourself?

A. I can’t think of any.

Q. In your whole presenting career, which is the most sensitive subject you’ve had to address?

A. There have been episodes of Love Lounge that brought me to tears such as the day Coach and Izefua Ehia Williams Irhabor told us about ways children are being molested in Nigeria. Love Lounge also covered the matter of homosexuality a few times on the show and that’s such a delicate topic in Africa – there are a lot of voices that are being forced into silence or whose lives are at risk because of the way (or who) they love and that’s heartbreaking for me but so difficult to adequately tackle in current times.

Q. You present Love Lounge on EbonyLife TV every Monday at 22:00 WAT where you and the experts keep it real whilst discussing love, sex and relationships. What are the satisfactions that come with presenting a show like this?

A. Love Lounge for me has always been about exposing the underbelly of neglect that an alarmingly large portion of our society suffers from.

Through discussing matters of the heart – love, sex and relationships, the viewer/listener feedback we get both on and offline has been incredibly positive and encouraging. Mo Abudu, Lanre Olushola, Sandra Amadio, Adesuwa Osawe, Ayoola Opere and all the other members of the team at EbonyLife TV that make Love Lounge what it is have created an environment where viewers and listeners feel safe, understood, cared for and listened to enough for them to share such intimate details of their troubles with me. ELTV created a vessel in Love Lounge where once there was a vacuum on the air for people who needed professional, adult advice and for me, that’s is great television. Education without shame.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in presenting?

A. Life as a presenter is a twenty-four hour job. It doesn’t start and stop when the microphone is (de)activated. It is important to train yourself; to never want to stop learning; surround yourself with information and the ability to absorb the right information to educate your audience.

I think people that have a natural flair for a creative job have it lucky. As do people who have studied it at university or on any other level but if like me, you feel you have more of an affinity for the creative industry despite your degree being from a totally unrelated sphere, or perhaps you find that despite your obvious, more dominant talents, you would rather investigate your latent creative flair, don’t be discouraged by other people, just work at it. Like I said before, talent is a muscle and the more you flex it and hone it, the better your understanding of each of its moving parts and how to use it. Study the art you want to create, dedicate your time to it professionally and passionately and never lose sight of your objective.

Q. Best and worst feeling in the world?

A. Best: Having the weekend off to vegetate on the sofa, catching up on all my favourite TV shows back to back.  

Worst: Coming back home after a long day at work and traffic to find the one meal I’d been looking forward to eating all day has been consumed by someone else.

Q. Who is your celebrity crush?

A. Theirry Henry, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and if I may add a comic book character, Gambit.

Q. What was your childhood nickname?

A. Forgetful Jones.

Q. If you had the chance to go back in time and change one thing, what would you change?

A. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Q. In one word, sum up your life so far.

A. Esoteric.

Q. All time favourite food?

A. I don’t have one.

Q. What have you not achieved yet that you must do in this life time?

A. Publish a book.

Q. A time I will never forget was when…(please complete sentence)

A. I believe my most unforgettable moment is still ahead.

Q. Life in Lagos is…(please complete sentence)

A. Congested.

Q. Quality time for me is…(please complete sentence)

A. Spending time with friends and family.

Q. What’s next for Oreka Godis?

A. I’m going to be on stage on the 15th June 2014 as the Lady in Yellow in Keke Hammond’s production of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.

I feature as a supporting actress in Seyi Babatope’s When Love Happens (alongside Weruche Opia, Gideon Okeke and OC Ukeje) as well as Ejiro Onobrakpor’s A Few Good Men (alongside Kate Henshaw, Uru Eke and Joseph Benjamin), both movies are due out in cinemas across Nigeria later this year. I’m due on a feature film set soon with Ashionye Michelle Raccah so, I’d say movies, stage and more presenting (radio & TV) as well as producing content are on the cards for me going forward.

I’d also like to use this medium to encourage everyone to watch Dowry and Love Lounge exclusively on EbonyLife TV. Send your tweets and FB messages in too, we read each one and appreciate the feedback!

Thank you for letting us into the life and times of Oreka Godis. We wish you the best for all future endeavours.

Stay tuned for the next EbonyLife and Times edition where a good time is had by all! And remember, life is short and time is swift so don’t dull, make a difference

 

The EbonyLife and Times of Deyemi Okanlawon

The passion, emotion and energy that this actor puts into his performances are what keeps us glued to our screens. Even as we can’t seem to get enough of him, this actor is showing no traces of slowing down. I’m talking about none other than Deyemi Okanlawon. What don’t you know about Deyemi Okanlawon? You’re about to find out as EbonyLife TV got the chance to ask questions that have been on your mind.

Q.What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?

A.So far I would say winning the award for Best Actor in a Short Film at the In-Short Film Festival for Tolu Ajayi’s psychological thriller, Blink (Check it out on my YouTube channel)

Q. Is acting what you always wanted to do, or was it an accidental blessing?

A. I’ve loved listening to, reading and telling stories since as far back as I can remember and from about the age of five I was in every one of my primary school plays. Years later, while I held down a series of very tasking day jobs, I still found ways to express my passion as an actor in a church group, Covenant Christian Centre’s Xtreme Reaction, and had the opportunity to take the Acting for Film course at NYFA in collaboration with Delyork.

Q. What is something you know now that you wish you knew before you started as an actor?

A. I wish I had known how much make up I’d have to use. [Laughs]

Q. Is there a role that got away? A role you really wanted but was not casted for?

A. Funny you ask that because I auditioned for a role in Ebony Life’s Desperate Housewives and I’m still waiting for my call back from Mo Abudu [Smiles]. After my first professional stage production at the British Councils’ Lagos Theatre Festival, I got a call to participate in one of the plays at the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) but the production schedule clashed with prior commitments. Truth is I firmly believe that, as long as I do the work required, roles that are meant for me never pass me by.

Q. What actor/actress Hollywood or Nollywood would you really like to work with but have not yet had the opportunity to?

A. There are so many great actors in Hollywood and Nollywood that I would love to work with. Since I’m relatively new to the scene there are way too many to name. Meryl Streep, Rita Dominic, Kate Henshaw, Omotola Jelade, Natalie Portman, Genevieve Nnaji, Gabrielle Union, Nse Ikpe Etim, Stella Damasus, Ini Edo, Mercy Johnson, Richard Mofe Damijo, Denzel Washington, Idris Elba, Leonardo Dicaprio, Liam Neeson, Anthony Hopkins, Olu Jacobs, Lupita Nyongo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and my favourite African actors Hloma Dandala, Yvonne Nelson, Jocelyn Dumas, Majid Michel… (well I did warn you the list was long)

Q. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on/off set?

A. Dropping my power bike while doing a stunt to impress some chics. The applause at my second attempt nearly made up for it.

Q. What determines your interest in a role?

A. To me every role is an opportunity to gain expertise and experience however I would readily choose to play a character that is in contrast to my “type” – my looks, background and personality, and that has a range of emotions and/or motives in a story that strikes a chord in my heart.

Q. You play the lead male role in Dowry, how similar or different is Deyemi Okanlawon to the character you played? How easy or hard was it getting into character?

A. [Laughs] Contrary to what my naughty colleagues on the set of Dowry claim, I like to think I’m nothing like Demola – he’s quite arrogant and self absorbed. However with Victor Sanchez’s direction I was able to identify elements of the character that I could relate with and so playing the part wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined it would be.

Q. Everyone knows that directors look for certain things in actors when casting, but what do you look for in a director?

A. Leadership. I find that for me the ability to lead cast and crew should, at the least, directly correlate with the director’s passion and strength of vision for telling a story. As an actor I am literarily clay in the hands of my director so having one in whose leadership I can trust is paramount. So far I have been blessed to work with great directors and have met many more recently who have expressed interest in working with me.

Q. What sacrifices have you made to get to where you are?

A. I had built an over 8 year career in sales and marketing and my previous job was as the marketing manager in a multinational e-commerce company. I switched careers in September 2013 to act full time.

For years I had to work gruelling hours in order to hone my skills, sometimes going straight to the office from all-night rehearsals and working weekends usually for absolutely no pay. The reviews received after putting up some of my work on my YouTube Channel made it all worth it.

Q. What is your pet peeve?

A. Time wasting, I have great respect for other people’s time and like to be on time. Nowadays I’ve learnt to carry work along with me so I don’t get stuck doing nothing while waiting for a scheduled appointment.

Q. If there was more time in the day I would… (please complete sentence)

A. Read more.

Q. My motto in life is… (please complete sentence)

A. No excuses!

Q. Favourite time of the year?

A. My birthday (the day I switch off my phones and take a day off from the world).

Q. My life would not be the same without… (please complete sentence)

A. A lifelong friend of mine – Yeshua (Google him. He’s quite famous).

Q. It’s high time I… (please complete sentence)

A. Get a breakout film role and win an Oscar for it [Smiles]

Q. I would like my life to be remembered with… (please complete sentence)

A. Characters and stories as well as film and theatre-related charity projects that inspire the Nigerian youth to reach for the stars.

Q. A time I wish I could relive was when… (please complete sentence)

A. I got down on one knee and proposed to the love of my life.

Q. What’s next? Any professional or personal plans in the horizon?

A. More training in film and theatre acting

Gaining experience in producing, directing

Leverage my ecommerce experience in promoting film and theatre productions

Living happily ever after

Thank you for letting us into the life and times of Deyemi Okanlawon. We wish you the best for all future endeavours.

Stay tuned for the next EbonyLife and Times edition where you are always guaranteed a good time! And do remember, life is short and time is swift so make a difference!