De’Areyes Bryant sat down with award-winning Canadian actress Enuka Okuma to talk about her long and successful career and her new movie The Sleepover starring Joe Manganiello and Malin Akerman.
How to Get Away with Murder, Masters of Sex, NCIS: Los Angeles, Rookie Blue, and my personal Favorite Rhodonite from Steven Universe. How does it feel to have such a long and successful career?
Enuka: Well…..it feels nice to be still working, I’ll be honest with you its been a long, long, long road. Sometimes I sit back and marvel at what I’ve been able to do. You know I am always striving for more and aiming for higher, but I can never get too down on myself because of the work I have done over the years. I know that I am very, very, blessed, and I am happy that I still can enter a room, and people still listen, and people still take a chance on me.
De’Areyes: How did you get your start in acting? Was this always a dream of yours, or was it an opportunity turned career?
Enuka: It was always a dream of mine. I was putting on shows for my family when I was still in my diapers. I started in Elementary school and then went on to high school, acting in plays. I joined a youth theatre as well in High school in Vancouver. I remember that the woman who owned the theatre told me that “if you join my theatre, you have to join my agency,” so I ended up doing both at the same time as a teenager, and it gave me hope that I can do this for a living. My parents knew this, and as soon as I started making money, they really wanted me to keep pursuing this career.
De’Areyes: As I mentioned earlier, you are a voice actress as well, what has your experience been being a voice actress, and how does it compare to live-action acting?
Enuka: When I first started doing voice work, I found it kind of strange; there’s nobody else there because when you audition, you audition with just your lines. You just read the lines, and there’s nobody there to give you anything back, but once I just gave into it and started having fun, then it all became so much easier. I think with voice acting, you get to be a little bit crazier with the characters. For example, when I auditioned for Steven Universe, my agency actually recorded it, and I didn’t even remember what I did. It took me thirty seconds to do it, and I basically sneezed on the mic, and the next thing I knew, I had a job.
De’Areyes: So Would you say auditioning for voice acting roles is easier than auditioning for live-action roles?
Enuka: I don’t know if it’s easier, it truly depends on the role. For me, I get to let loose and allow myself to let loose a little easier with nobody watching. For example, if I’m recording in my closet at home, the only audience is my shoes, so they don’t care if I let loose and get a little crazy.
De’Areyes: So, let’s talk about The Sleepover a little. The Sleepover is what I would call a fun family heist film; we have comedy, we have action choreography, we have awesome fight scenes, how was it filming a film with so many layers?
Enuka: It was GREAT; it was great. I loved filming this move because of exactly that reason; it has so many layers. We have stunts; we have fight scenes and the tone of it I love because it’s light and fun, but other themes are going on as well. They don’t know who their mom is, they don’t know her past, and that’s a huge thing to think about. Who are we living with, who are the people we love we all have a past, and what does that mean for us in the present? I also loved the oldest daughter Clancy, she wants more responsibility, but her parents won’t give it to her even though she’s ready. I remember feeling that way when I was the character’s age.
De’Areyes: So, your character in this movie is sort of a villain, she’s bringing the Margot, the main character back into the life of heisting, what was it like playing a villain with such a mysterious, dark personality.
Enuka: It was so fun to create this character when I was having my wardrobe fitting, I found this black sleek all in one catsuit for her, and it was cool creating that whole world. You don’t know much about her, and even in the end, you don’t know that much about her, but you know she’s single-focused and serious. If it’s the last thing she does, she’s going to get Margot back into the game. It was fun playing somebody like her.
De’Areyes: How was it preparing for that huge fight scene?
Enuka: It was a bit difficult, the original choreography had my character doing backflips off of walls and all sorts of craziness, but our director Trish wanted us to look like we were doing it. So, we scaled things down a bit, and Molly and I had about five days, and we worked on it between scenes constantly, and we were able to do something that looked realistic. So, the scene is so fun, but it also seems like these two actresses could do it.
De’Areyes: So, the movie has so many female characters who are action heroes and villains, why do you feel it was important to have these characters in these roles?
Enuka: I love that you said this, I said the same exact thing, you have three or four characters that are kicking butt seriously! It’s very different to actually physically see it, if you’re an eight-year-old girl and you see it regularly, it becomes something that you don’t have to question. Saying it is not enough, but seeing it and showing it in action, literally in action is enough to imprint on some young girl’s life.
De’Areyes: Why should we be tuning in to Netflix’s The Sleepover on August 21st?
Enuka: Well, we’ve had a really heavy year and a heavy summer, and I think the film is a perfect Antidote to the heaviness of it all. It’s fun, it’s light, but there are still some deeper themes involved. Also, the characters in the movie love each other, and you can see this bond, which is something we all want to connect to right now. Also, if you’re stuck at home quarantining, you’re going to be watching Netflix anyway, so why not watch The Sleepover?
De’Areyes: What is next for Enuka Okuma? What should we be on the lookout for?
Enuka: Well, I am actually negotiating to be on the screen possibly, so I’m waiting to hear about that so I won’t share right now. But I’ve also been writing, I wrote a movie, and we have a few deals in place. Some friends of mine from Rookie Blue, Adam McDonald is going to be directing, and Missy Peregrym also from Rookie Blue is going to star in this movie as well. We are still looking at some financing, but we’re planning to film next year.
Netflix’s The Sleepover is out now!