Jemimia Osunde appears as a girl next door but she is a bundle of talent and brains. The young, beautiful girl came to limelight in MTV Shuga, a drama series that tells the story of young people and how they deal with love, sex and relationships. Jemimia, who plays the role of Lelia in Shuga, has since featured in many A-list series and movies.
Though, she is in her early 20s and barely one year in the industry, Jemimia just won’t stop amazing everyone with her artistic and academic excellence. The last child and only daughter of her parents has achieved what many who have been in Nollywood for years only dream of and yet, she excels in medical school. Jemimia opens up to Entertainer on how she has been able to combine acting with her study at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and what her future aspirations are. Excerpts:
How did you get into acting?
I started acting in 2013. I went for different auditions and fortunately enough I started getting some good roles, then I decided to continue.
How did you get the Shuga role?
I auditioned for Shuga.
How has it been?
It’s been good. Shuga is definitely one of the best sets I have been on. Everybody there is welcoming and nice. We know how to keep our professional life professional and our personal life personal. They are fun loving people to hang out with when the camera is not rolling.
What challenges have you been faced with?
My very first challenge was mixing with everybody, I mean getting here and mixing with people who are so established already in the industry, and you being new. I have been in the industry for about a year plus and meeting people who are good on the job like Chris Atto and Peace Hyade who are well established in their countries. I won’t say I was intimidated because that’s not a good word. I just felt a little bit overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to approach them. But I am seeing that they are so nice because it was more like they approached me and we have had an amazing relationship so far. So, I would say we are all one big Shuga family.
Was there a time that you got overwhelmed by the challenges of acting that you wanted to throw in the towel?
That happens a lot. You know, combining schooling and acting is not an easy ride.
Are you still in school?
Yes, I am.
I am in College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
What level are you?
I am in my second year.
Medicine and acting are poles apart, why?
It’s because that’s what I wanted. (Laughs).
I know that medical students read for long hours so how do you cope?
You can ask anybody on set, when I am not shooting you find me in one tight corner in my room studying. When you know Jemimia is nowhere then probably I am studying.
Are you sure it’s not affecting your grades?
It’s not affecting my grades at all. I am doing just fine in school.
How did your parents take it?
My parents are cool with it; my parents are my biggest fans, funny enough. My dad is only concerned that my grades are good. He said to me, ‘it’s fine if you want to act, and I don’t mind seeing you on television but make sure it doesn’t interfere with school work’. So, the only thing I have to do is, as long as I am progressing in my career as an actor, I have to keep my grades high in school too. It’s a lot of work but it is possible and I am doing it. I know a lot of people that have done it. There is an actor called Ifeanyi Dike, he is a medical doctor. So, someday when he is not shooting, he is at the hospital on call. It’s all about determination. If you know it’s simply what you want to do, you will find a way to make it work.
That means you have zero social life?
Not zero social life, but my social life is not that amazing. Olumide Oworo standing right there used to tell me ‘Jemimia you are boring. Jemimia you are no fun at all’. But it is not true. It’s just that with my kind of schedule, I have less time to hang out with my friends compared to other people. For instance, if I am not on set, I am at school, if I am not at school, I am on set. And if you can’t find me in either of those places, it means I am caught up with one family thing or the other. My closest friends get to see me and we get to hang out very often too.
Your lecturers know you do this and they don’t see you as an unserious student?
Yes, a few of them know I do act, but they don’t see me as unserious. You can’t see me as an unserious person with the kind of grades I have. I think I fascinate my lecturers because I act. Not all of them know I act because I look totally different in school. In school, I look like a geek but on set I am different. They don’t really see me as someone who is not serious rather they see me as a versatile person.
What other jobs have you done aside from Shuga?
I have been in The Johnsons; I have been in a couple of Africa Magic original films. I played the lead role in a TV short film entitled, Jungle Joe, produced by Ifeoma Macdamon. I have been in a couple of other productions like the Igwe’s new sitcom, The OJs. It’s not out yet but hopefully it will come out this year.
Have you ever been offered a role for sex before?
Yes, I have had such experience. One director came to me and made some sexual advances and it was so easy for me to turn him down because that wasn’t the reason I was there.
How did you handle him?
I told him if that is what it takes to get the role then I rather not be a part of his production; and I turned down his job. I also stopped every form of contact with him.
What was growing up like, you are still growing though?
(Laughs) Yes I am. My growing up was fun. I was a tomboy because I had all brothers and I was the last child. I am the only daughter and the last child.
Are they all doctors?
No, my first brother is an Engineer; the second is studying something related to entertainment. So, growing up was a lot of fun because I was their little brother that was a girl (Laughs). I had a wonderful childhood.
How do you intend juggling between being a doctor and an actress in future?
I wanted to go for general medicine at first, but then I realised that this is not what I will be doing forever. So, I decided to do something that I can combine with my other life ambition, which is physiotherapy. That is why I am in my second year now; I ought to be in my third year. I decided to change my course of study and apply for physiotherapy in medicine. So now, I am going to get my BSC in physiotherapy in medicine. I don’t want to say it is a more lenient course but it is a course that I can combine with acting. You know with physiotherapy I don’t have to do 8 to 5 job, I don’t have to get emergencies at 2am, Physiotherapy has more organized scheduled. For example, I can work every Thursday 8 to 3, I know that Thursday 8 to 3 I am booked, so I can give them my schedule to work with. Any day I am not seeing a patient then I will be on location. So, it is more flexible part of medicine I can combine with my acting.
Who do you look up to in the industry?
I have people who mentor me and people I admire. People who mentor me are those who have contributed to this girl you are seeing here, they are people who have tutored and motivated me. I have Ifeoma Macdamon who is my fairy god mother in this industry. I also have uncle Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey. I have known him since I was born; he’s my dad’s friend. When I told him I had interest in the industry, he really did a good job mentoring me, talking to me and recommending me to some people for auditions. Then, there is also Genevieve, I think I totally admire her, I just love her and she is so beautiful and talented.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I hope to have done a good number of movies that would help me take a stand in the industry and make a name for myself. I also want to be that actress who will not just accept a role because of the money is looking good, but because the role is something that people can learn from. One of the things about me is that I don’t like wasting time. If I should sit at the cinema for one hour thirty minutes and I come out and I am not well entertained, it makes me so mad. So, I would love to partake in movies that will make you laugh, entertained and you will still learn something from it. Aside from being a big movie star, I want people to enjoy my acting, get entertained and learn one or two lessons from it. I don’t want to appear in just any pointless movie that has no head or tail.