Have you ever seen a picture of yourself that you don’t remember taking? That’s exactly what seeing your stunt double for the first time is like.
I was walking down the hallway back to my holding room when I saw my reflection at the end of the hall. Except I couldn’t remember ever seeing a mirror there. It took about a half a second for my brain to process that I was indeed looking at another person, but in that small flash of time was an essay’s worth of new feelings flooding through me.
I’ve caught myself doing this for the past few days. Taking a double take. Mainly on the circumstances of my life and wondering how the heck did we get here??! I’ve booked a job on a television show, I’ve been flown out to a new city, I live in a hotel suite and I drive to work where my job is to act. Like whaaa?! It’s bizarre. I’m so used to fantasizing about this, that the reality of it is a drink I’m wary of spilling.
And oddly enough, even with all its novelty, there’s a part of all of this that isn’t surprising at all. I’m of the mindset that everything that is meant for you is already yours. Your choices, yes while indicative of free will, are at the same time following a path that’s already been marked for you. It’s a very peaceful thing to realize and it helps soothe a lot of anxieties. Because it reminds me that there are forces in this world bigger than us, and our only role is to put ourselves on the board and start making chess moves. Once I move, the universe will dance with me, and we’ll find the routine that’s already been choreographed for us.
This is by far the biggest job I’ve ever booked. And I’m guilty in the past of looking at my wins as whims, or one-off luck of the draws. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received to date was from my mom a few years ago. I think I had booked something (I don’t even remember what) and I called her absolutely excited to share the news! I remember being taken aback by her response though because it was so muted and underwhelming. And then she finally spoke and she said “Oh Omono but I’m not surprised”. And I was speechless. Because for as insecure and self-doubting as artists can be, man does it feel good to be seen. Even when you can’t yet see it. I can now see it. I think I’m too interesting to not be an artist. My experiences are too interesting, too complicated, too tragic, and yet blanketed by too much joy for me to not funnel them through some sort of medium. And while I’m sure I have a few more double takes in me, I’m so honored to be able to share a piece of my art through what might perhaps be one of the best characters I’ve ever read to date. Gah!! I can’t wait for you all to meet her!
...old friend! It's been a minute since I updated you all. I would feel guilty about missing last month's post, but considering the events spurred by the George Floyd protests, I'm claiming space and time for my own sanity. I've written about this before, but I'm a master at suppression. I suppress feelings to make it through life. As a Black person living in the U.S., I've learned the value of suppression heck to even make it through the day. All that to say, George Floyd's death was one of the few times I really allowed myself to feel. And it cost me. For the first time in a really long time, I experienced the physical manifestations of grief. My chest hurt. I would wake up in the middle of the night with actual chest pain. It didn't help that I was going through finals week, but that's another story. Even more tangibly though, were my blood pressure (bp) readings. My diastolic was at 100 on multiple occasions. A diastolic bp is the force of blood against your vessels when your heart is at rest. I.e in between heart beats. For my non medical folk, a normal diastolic is 80. A diastolic of 100 when your heart is at rest isn't good. All that to say, I had to disconnect to be ok. I'm still trying to find a happy medium of staying informed but not being enveloped by injustice. It's a work in progress.
Now, as absolute crap as the world has been, I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge its creation of silver linings.. For those who don't know, I shot an episode of NCIS a few years back- my mom still tells people I was on N-CSI (?? 🤦🏾♀️). The Casting Director for NCIS is Jason Kennedy. Jason I know has always championed BIPOC actors, and given the events of this summer he started an instagram campaign to #promoteblackactors. He featured me on his page and as a result of that I've gotten a new agent and a new manager. I'd taken a break from the industry, and at the top of the year had asked my old team to take me completely off roster. I made this decision because as some of you know, I'm back in school and it got absolutely crazy trying to juggle the two. So why the heck did I decide to dive back in with a new team? Alas, Covid.
For one, I'm graduating in December (!). A fair chunk of my program is now online, so I have a hair more flexibility with school. For two, 99% of auditions are now self tapes, meaning I don't have to drive anywhere or miss any classes to audition. Well Omono, what if you book? What then? My philosophy: we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
The bridge doesn't look so daunting though, because I absolutely love my team. Again, given the events of the summer and the civil rights movement that has since been reborn, I've been emboldened to be completely myself. The meetings I had with managers and agents were some of the most honest conversations I've ever had. I presented the most transparent version of Omono and it was extremely reinforcing to stand in my bare truth and to be accepted for it. I'm speaking in parables now, but long story short I'm signed with DBA Talent Management and Beth Stein & Associates. If you know me, you know I hate hyping things up especially if I don't believe it. So when I say I absolutely adore my team, know that it's real. It makes me move with different energy (not that I'm moving anywhere, we're still mostly in quarantine 😭). But in all seriousness, I am so excited for what my future looks like. It's been a minute since I've been here so I'm enjoying this feeling.
If you're not already, follow me on instagram. One, because self promotion durh! And two, because I really do update the gram more. Especially my stories. Keep up with me there if you haven't been already! Oh and I updated my acting website because I was feeling like a hot cake, so go check that out as well.
Almost (if not exclusively) everyone who reads this is family or a friend. I want you all to know that I appreciate you and I see you riding with me. Your support is not lost on me and I can't wait to make you all proud 🧡
Words from an instagram post earlier this month:
This country scares me. In many ways I’m in awe of it but at the same time it terrifies me. I think children who immigrate here are unique in that we get to see two sides to the American dream coin. The side with the white picket fence, to the side with a very ugly avoided history. I used to wish I was born and raised in this country. I would imagine what 3-5 year old me would have thought about Disneyland, or hiking trails lol. What I never thought about was what 3-5 year old me would have thought about race. Because she didn’t have to. I grew up where everyone looked like me. My parents were respected journalists, my aunts, uncles and grandparents were running businesses and held positions of power in the corporate world. The newscasters looked like me, actors (irregardless of Nollywood dramatics) looked like me. The concept of race ever hindering me was laughable. And it showed. I was a very confident child.
I distinctly remember thinking I could drop out of primary 4 and make it as a successful author. I wasn’t joking. I wrote a full novel in one of my notebooks and passed it around school for my classmates to read. I was unstoppable. Useless in math but unstoppable nonetheless. And then I moved here and I shrunk. Part of that is just the sheer trauma of moving to a new country, but I can’t help but wonder how much of that was driven by my newfound consciousness of race. I broke down in 11th grade CORE during the race unit because it was the first time my eyes were really opened to covert and systemic racism, and it was brutal. All the Black kids knew about it, but here I was learning about racism much like the White kids were. Unlike them though, I didn’t get to go home and think about how bad that must be for Black people. I went home and like a ton of bricks the thought hit me all at once “oh my God I’m in danger!”. It was actually really terrifying. Then they hit us with the gender unit right after, oh lord. And so as I age, I think more about my future generations and the truth is, I don’t want to raise a Black child here. It’s dangerous.
Not only physically, but the mental exhaustion that comes with hyper awareness of your Blackness, more specifically the not so subliminal messaging that comes with being Black in America is a burden I don’t want my child to shoulder. And let’s face it, Nigeria is farrrrr (very very far, as in the next pond over far) from perfect. But the confidence and assuredness that comes from growing up in a place where the idea of discrimination because of your skin color, is as foreign as the idea of an honest politician, is immeasurable beyond words. It leaves an imprint that transcends any space you do, dream to, and eventually will occupy. It does not escape me that many Black Americans don’t even have the luxury of entertaining this “Get Out” fantasy. And for as much as I feel I’m stuck here, American racism is a thick generational quicksand with a grip that quite literally chokes its citizens to death.
Excerpt from CNN supervising producer Stephanie Busari's article "What speaking to my daughter about George Floyd taught me about my race privilege as an African". Click here to read.
Below is a letter written to the faculty and staff of my nursing program
Dear faculty and staff. I want to thank you all for the efforts you have made to push us through this semester. As I attempt to study for my last final, I can’t help but to be encompassed by the current state of the world. I am unfortunately no longer referencing the Corona virus, but rather racism and police brutality. I am one of the few Black students in our program, and while I excellently endure the stressors of both nursing school and living while Black, I feel conflicted in enduring the stressor of your silence. As a Black woman, but more so as a Black immigrant, I have learned very quickly how to navigate and conduct myself in White spaces. One of the lessons I’ve picked up on is that the majority tends to align themselves with the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King. In his honor and in his name, I ask where you would have stood during the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60's? I pose that question not to attack, but rather to prompt the question of where you stand during these civil rights movements of 2020?
I have entertained the idea that you may want to shy away from this for fear of it being political. For that possibility I rebut and ask, what is political about speaking up for human life? Unless that discomfort only brews when speaking up for Black life. Our nursing program prides itself on being a family. It is a message I have heard since my mandatory orientation. If that message is true, then I ask my family to publicly speak out and condemn the militant and racist police practices that have led to the most recent death of George Floyd. The United States has a painfully long history of systematic oppression and police brutality unleashed on minority communities. It is this type of oppression that makes women like Amy Cooper feel comfortable enough to make false claims against Christian Cooper. Fortunately, Christian Cooper is alive thanks to the power of technology and social media. Emmett Till is not. It is a linked history and one can no longer stay silent and claim naïveté. The reality is too pervasive, and muteness cannot be interpreted as unknowing.
My cohort is phenotypically comprised of mainly White students. Using that and the faces of past graduating classes hung up in the computer room, I would venture to say the whole program is currently comprised of mainly White students. Regardless, I feel confident that you all see me as a valid member of our community. And so, though I have learned how to conduct myself in White spaces, I have also learned from America that my “conduct” does not protect me from the very real possibility of injustice and/or death. With that, I ask you to use your voices now to speak up and not in the unfortunate circumstance that #justiceforomono becomes a trending hashtag.
Thank you all for allowing me the space to feel comfortable enough to bring this up in, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter
With the support of redacted names for privacy
I encourage all of you to start using your voice. And not just black people, ALL people. I will no longer be silent for fear of repercussions. I will no longer let fear dictate my conduct. My reach may be small, but it extends past me. I will no longer fold my arms in an attempt to blend in, I will extend my arms out to you until you feel my pain. I am no longer afraid. You are either with us, or against us. #prosecutekillercops #defundpolice