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Rekiya Yusuf: People think I’m as feisty as Mimi
A day is incomplete without seeing Nollywood actress and TV star, Rekiya Yusuf on the screen playing the role of Mimi in Basketmouth’s popular sitcom, Flatmates. The Microbiologist explained how she wasn’t so excited getting the role, dumping her side job as operations manager with a fashion house in this chat with ASSISTANT ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR GBENGA BADA
YOU studied Microbiology but turned out to be an actress, TV show host, and presenter, how did it begin?
Believe it or not, I never knew I’d pursue a career in acting or entertainment generally even though I was in a drama club and I had hosted a couple of shows back in school. After the compulsory National Youth Service Corp, I took a job which I found absolutely no pleasure in so I thought to try entertainment. Somehow I found myself in acting school and afterward I went from audition to audition and from one movie set to another and voila.
You became a household name and face as Mimi in the popular sitcom, Flatmates, how did you get the role?
I worked on a film production as an actor with Kayode Peters who is one of the executive Producers of My Flatmates sitcom. He invited me to audition for the character Mimi which I wasn’t too excited about at first because I watched the series from way back and I knew it was a comedy and I didn’t think of myself a comic actor but I went nevertheless and after the audition and screen test I landed the role that shaped my career.
You have been a regular feature on the sitcom, tell us about your attachment to your role in the sitcom
I’ve played the character Mimi for about four years now and it’s become a part of me and I can get very sentimental about the character. I’ve gotten so used to being referred to as Mimi rather than Rekiya. I think there have been times where I introduced myself to a stranger who’s never seen the sitcom as Mimi and didn’t even realize it.
You have a charming smile, how often do you get complimented about this?
Well, thank you. But about the compliment, I’ve been told most people are careful with me because they think I’m as feisty as the character I play lol. So the compliments don’t come as often as one would think. Lol just kidding.
You have featured in some films but your face is more synonymous with TV shows and sitcoms, is that a deliberate move?
Well, when I got cast for the role I wanted to be completely invented because for a rising actor one thing we pray for is to be on TV as often as possible to showcase your talents and I had the platform so nothing really mattered. Also because we film round the clock it gives little time to do other projects so I’ll say it was deliberate at one point but now I’m open to doing more film than television.
You once referred to your role in Obi Emelonye’s ‘Calabash’ as the most challenging. It’s been over six years now and has featured in other films, which of the roles would you say is your most challenging looking back now?
I think every character I’ve played in the past six years came with their own challenges… It’s the beauty of the job you see; playing different people in different settings and in different times. It’ll be very difficult now to say a particular role has been most challenging. I simply welcome each role I play with gratitude and a new perspective. I’m pretty sure if I’m asked to replay a character I’ve played before I’d play it differently.
You used to combine working for a fashion label, Sly Monay Fashion, as the Operations Manager with acting, is that still on?
Oh, my days… I had totally forgotten that at one point I was an operations manager for a small fashion company. That ended over 5 years ago. I had to pay more attention to promoting my career.
What lessons has life taught you?
Life has taught me a lot of lessons but most importantly life has taught me to be patient. Patience with people and myself. I figured half the things we worry about today, we won’t even remember them in another year so what’s the point of it? I’ve also learned to be open-minded and not judge a book by its cover. Also, I know that if I’m going to thrive in the entertainment industry I needed to be prayerful.
Has there ever been a time you felt you might quit acting for one personal reason or an industry issue?
I thought about quitting severally, to be honest. At the very beginning, I was pretty confused if I was making the right decision of becoming an actor because sometimes I might not get a role in a month and that can be emotionally exhausting for the actor who doesn’t have a side hustle. Also, some days when I’m on the job and rolling slate at 2 am in the morning I ask myself if it’s worth it but I realized the minute I was done with that job I missed the late-night shoots and I was hungry for the next. I was born to be an actor
As a female, who identifies as a feminist, what’s your perception of feminism?
I just want a world where a woman is treated no less than a man. A world where my ideas and opinions matter. Where I’m paid the same salary as my male colleagues on the same job. And I’m free to make decisions concerning my life, career, body, or whatever without being judged or seen as unserious. A world where the woman is no longer seen as weak. That’s the kind of feminist I am.
What’s your biggest dream yet to be achieved?
One of my dreams is to use my voice and platform to educate young girls. The world is fast-changing and I want to be a model of confidence and self-determination. That’s it.
Rekiya Yusuf: People think I’m as feisty as Mimi