In 2002, Andrea Chizoba Akudolu, better known as ‘Chizzy’ embarked on her her first acting experience. Her first television appearance was in the BBC sitcom 15 Storeys High.In 2009, she had a guest role in Hollyoaks Later and starred in the CBBC show Jinx in the lead role as the unconventional Fairy Godmother, Cookie. In 2010 Akudolu appeared in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Twenty Twelve, The Inbetweeners, and as a semi-regular in the Channel 4 comedy Campus.Since May 2012, Akudolu plays surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City. She was nominated for “Best Newcomer” at the Black International Film Festival and won best newcomer at Music Video & Screen Awards. She also took home Best Actress in the same year at BEFFTA Awards. She was nominated for “Emerging Talent” at the 8th Annual Screen Nation Awards. We at Those London Chicks are so pleased she took the time out to chat with us. Contributor Dr Clare Anyiam-Osigwe catches up with Chizzy who’s film is screening at the British Urban Film Festival later this month.
Let’s rewind back a little bit – How old was you when you started your career or when did you realised that this what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
I only started acting 14 years ago but I’ve been playing the fool all my life. I jest. Slightly. I’ve always felt this desire to perform. I even wanted to do ballet when I was 7 but my Mum wouldn’t let me.
You’ve auditioned about a thousand times. How do you still remain just as excited about them? Do you have a little routine in your mind before you go in (As in am go-ing to do the same thing as I did last time)?
Every audition or casting is exciting. It’s the chance to book a job, so you have to approach each one with the same gusto and fire.
So what’s next for Chizzy, you seem like you’ve pretty much done everything? What’s next on your list?
I really love filmmaking, so would love to do more. Seeing a project go from script to screen is magical. Plus, LA is in my future. It’s just a question of when.
Would you consider doing a musical or being an artist?
I never used to like musicals. I’d sit there thinking, “Really? Another song?” Kind of defeats the purpose of a musical I guess. But lately, I’ve found a new found love for them. I’d have to learn to sing before I attempt one. I did go up for Shenzi in the Lion King once. Didn’t get it. Can’t think why…
We discovered you have a brown belt in Karate, how and why?
Yep, was looking for something to get me fit. Plus, I’ve always been a Martial Arts fan, so I gave it a whirl. Love the discipline it gave me and will definitely revisit the sport again.
How would you describe your style compared to your character Mo’s in Holby City?
Mo is all about flowing prints and looking smart, which I think is cool. I’m more baggy trousers and casual. I do love some of her outfits tho, especially the Ted Baker capes. Might have to borrow them at some point…
You’re screening your short film ‘5 minutes’ at the British Urban Film Festival. What is the film about and how did you conceive the idea?
5 Minutes has actually been shown twice before, to great reviews. It’s about a woman involved in fatal, car incident. Move her and she’ll die, so she’s given the opportunity to make a phone call, a final one as her health deteriorates even more. It’s a painful choice, I mean, who do you call? Who’s voice would you want to hear before you die? Parent, sibling, loved one? The choice isn’t really as straight forward as you’d think. I was on a plane when the idea came to me. It made me think of the horrific events of 9/11 and I thought of those passengers who managed to make calls, and who they’d spoken to.
What was the best career advice you’ve ever received?
‘Every audition and every job you do is a potential audition for another part’.
Dark times can appear at any stage in life – Can you address how you have managed to get through times when things have not gone the way they should?
I actually started writing in response to not getting enough work. I had little success with Theatre auditions, so I wrote a play. I wanted more experience with the filming process, so I made shorts. It’s difficult to stay optimistic when things aren’t going your way, but somehow I managed to keep the resolve. I’m also a Host so I’m able to focus on that string too.
Let’s talk a little bit about keeping yourself together. We’ve spoken about going down the hole when things aren’t going so great but there’s another aspect as in your friends, the people who are in your life and managing that with your work, travelling, busyness etc. How do you weave together the kind of support you need though friendships and relationships?
I surround myself with positive people. I’m very fortunate that my family are supportive of my career. My friends too. Plus, I know a lot of actors, so there’s a mutual willingness to support each other.
An important question or kind of a weird one in a sense – Would you rather have a rewind button in your life or a pause button?
Rewind definitely. I would love to go back to the start of my career with the knowledge and skill that I have now. But things do happen in their own time. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come with no acting training. I appreciate every opportunity and only look forward to what’s next with glee.