Before Stardom With…Damilare Kuku

What project put you in the limelight?

The easiest answer is that every project I’ve been in has played an important part. My journey thus far has been a culmination of working with people who believed in my gift and in taking chances. Acting for me is not a means to an end, it is a calling and it is what I am passionate about. Every time I do my job well, I am moving up the ladder. It is like a lawyer who starts out in a firm and eventually becomes a senior partner. The attention came for me as an actor when I could create shows for myself and other actors on networks, when I could be at the decision-making table as an actor.

I’d rather say that God and people have played major roles in helping me get this far and I am sure many others will play vital roles in pushing me even higher.

How has the journey been so far?

Nothing meaningful in life comes easy. I am a lot stronger than I was when I first came into the industry and I have an amazing support system – God, my family, my mum, my friends, senior colleagues in the industry and my team. There are ups and downs and there are days I reflect on the sacrifices and then my wins. Ultimately, this is the path I’ve chosen and I’m committed to giving it my all.

Aside from acting, what else do you do?

I am an actor. This is my job from 9am to 5pm and from 6pm to 8am. In future, I will explore directing and producing.

What were the challenges you faced at the beginning of your career?

My biggest challenge was thinking I was properly equipped to be a working actor. In my defence, I studied theatre arts so I assumed it would be an easy transition. For instance, I am introverted but I find that I’ve had to become more extroverted, because working as an actor is not only about coming on set and going home. There are other aspects you have to pay attention to, and they often involve interacting with a lot of people. Another important aspect is that I didn’t exactly have a plan or a process; I’ve worked retroactively to put those things in place now. Right now, I know the sort of career I wish to have as an actor and the steps and connections I need to make this happen.

Who are your role models?

I admire women who have changed the narrative in the film and television industry. These are amazing women such as Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Genevieve Nnaji, Kristen Wig, Funke Akindele and Mercy Johnson. I also have a lot of respect for Kim Kardashian; she keeps breaking barriers.

What would you describe as your recipe for success?

Prayer, persistence, a listening ear and hard work

What role have you not played and would love to play?

There are so many people whose stories haven’t been told yet and I’d love to tell them. I am also particularly drawn to roles that call the society’s attention to what is missing or what is wrong or right. I enjoy stretching myself, so everything under the sun is fair game.

What moment will you describe as the highlight of your career?

The career I’ve had so far has been a highlight. I believe in celebrating the little and the big moments because it is all building up to a story that is my career. I don’t dwell on success or failure for more than a moment. I am always looking for the next challenge, the next moment. [PUNCH]