By Omoye Uzamere
… The one that makes him get on his knees and PRAY!
This is one character I was glad to play because I needed to show the side of me that isn’t the good girl and loyal friend. It was short and sweet but very remarkable.
When the producer of Our Best Friend’s Wedding first said she had a role for me as one of the cameo appearances, I didn’t imagine it was anything out of the ordinary. I am used to being asked to play characters that are consistent with dutiful, loyal, well-bred, sweet, cute, uncomplicated…
So when Lydia asked me to play Shayo, I was excited. We both agreed that I needed to show my versatility and this was a great opportunity to do so. The project has come and gone, but there’s always a lesson to learn.
Here are some lessons I learned from playing SHAYO:
Planning Is Perfection In Training:
I spent the next few weeks studying the behavior of persons dependent on illegal substances, sexual adventure and emotional manipulation. I learned my lines and even choreographed the blockings of the racy scene, as written in the script (basically, in that scene my character is sitting astride the subject aka ‘man’ and teases him, only to pull out a knife and stab him in the chest). So I got ready to deliver my performance without any difficulty or delay and it paid off. The performance was seamless. In fact, there’s a BTS video showing the director gasp when I brought out the knife from nowhere. He had planned to shoot in bits, guiding me along beat by beat, but I had mastered the entire progression and delivered it in one smooth progression. #baddo #monster #assassin J lol
Directors love it when an actor flows with their rhythm.
HOWEVER, it is not always so. We don’t all get our scripts months ahead and some of us are cast at the last minute. This is something that needs to change in our industry. On the production end, when we plan better, overall performance is improved.
Intimate Scenes Are So NOT Intimate!
If you were planning to become an actor so that you can kiss all the fine babes, kiss that dream goodbye. Doing that scene, I realized something some audiences might never understand – those snazzy scenes where two people romp in the sack is anything but sexual. Yup! It is unemotional, mechanical, technical, uncomfortable and intrusive, but it is most certainly not sexual. I’ll be honest; I was worried that after playing Shayo, I would start catching feelings for my co-actor and considered not doing it. But I believed in the message and felt a peace in my spirit going forward with it. After shooting, I discovered there was no need for the nerves.
On set, there are all these instructions from the director – “Place your hand here, like this. Take a long drag of the cigarette and release the smoke very slowly so I can get my shot. Pause at this point and look this way, then bring out the knife very slowly. Sound man; take your boom out of my shot. Is that your picture? Somebody get me a 50mm! Now, hold still like this… And Cut. Okay, lets do it again. This time, lift your head so the smoke goes up… lift your head like this: way up. Great! Camera did you frame that?…” All this time your legs are numb from sitting in an uncomfortable position for 45 minutes while they frame you, light you, block cameras, call ‘Action!’ etc. There are people milling about, you are sweaty and probably wearing uncomfortable clothes and in the midst of all this, you have to remember your character arch and where he/she is in the story at this point – and then give a compelling performance. It’s multitasking at its peak. Dude, didn’t I say there’s nothing sexy about all that?
Be Open To Change
Nothing really happens exactly as it says in the script. Reality happens. I had prepared for another scene with my co-actor and we were to shoot in a ‘suya’ spot. Due to restrictions, the location became unavailable last minute and we had to shoot in an unconventional space. The nice location and comfortable pace I was anticipating went out the window. We filmed our scene in the middle of the street and had to finish before the authorities found us. Talk about spontaneity! There was so much improvising to be done with the other actor and a part of me was bent on doing it the way I had read it. I got caught up with keeping the integrity of the writing and became distracted from what was happening in the take. And it showed. I’ve learned (the hard way) to know when to just go with the flow. You can’t always control everything.
What’s that Bible verse about Jesus having “learned obedience by the things he had suffered”? That is the reality of every (creative) person. We don’t always have to learn from our own experiences, but we will learn regardless. Every project is an opportunity to learn something and to grow.
So… who still wants to be an actor?! Lol
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