15 Minutes With Actress/Philanthropist Olunike Adeliyi

Toronto-born Olunike Adeliyi has started off 2018 with a bang. Nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for her performance in BOOST (hitting the big screen on March 2nd) and anticipating the upcoming release of sci-fi, fantasy feature film Darken, she has made an impressive name for herself in the world of film, television and theatre.

A grad from the highly coveted American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, Adeliyi’s acting career has included roles on CBC’s Workin’ Moms (our absolute fave right now), Republic of Doyle, and CTV’s Flashpoint.

When she’s not on screen, Adeliyi is working with Third World Awareness, a Canadian charity that challenges young adults to reach out and help those in need.

We caught up with the actress/philanthropist this week.

SDTC: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

OA: I have so many things on my bucket list, but touring the African continent would be at the top. I’m part Nigerian and I love going there, so I could only imagine what the rest of Africa is like and the diverse cultural traditions it brings. I can name all the African countries and their capitals. I’m ready.

What’s your go-to song for getting things done?

“Come Into My House” by Queen Latifah. I’m always in my Queendom with that song; it reminds me I’m a BOSS!!!

What advice would you give your fourteen-year-old self?

Relax and have fun, but have discipline and work ethic, because it builds character. Also, everything you dream about and strive for is coming to you, so just be patient and have faith. All the grown-ups want to see you stable but being happy doing what you love is the key.

Who has made a big impact on your life recently, and how?

The entire Black Panther team. I’m so proud to have witnessed this breakthrough moment in my industry. It’s not just a moment; it’s a movement that will change the false narrative that movies starring a predominantly black cast don’t make money globally. I sat in the theatre and tears came to my eyes of how young children must feel watching this magnificent piece of art. Black children can now see themselves as superheroes and powerful in the world.

What does your ideal Saturday look like?

Saturdays are for lying in bed eating snacks, cuddling with my cat Michael Jackson, and knocking off shows off my list. I binge like crazy, because I don’t usually have time to watch Netflix or regular television. I only get up to take a shower. I’m part Jamaican and we are unnecessarily obsessed with cleanliness.

What’s the best part of being your current age?

Owning it!!! I’m sexier, smarter and very confident. I’m connected to my body and my sexuality as a woman. I also returned to university to study psychology and most of the young students think I’m their age. Why spoil it for them? Being hit on by young men is refreshing and fun when you say, “Not a chance, buddy.”

What is your favourite quality in your best friend?

My best friend is very kind and silly. That’s my ride-or-die chick.

What/who is currently inspiring you?

All the talented young performers coming up behind me. I’m watching their acting styles and youthfulness and I’m excited for their future selves. I believe I can learn from anyone and no matter how successful I get in my life, I can draw on younger people as well as mature people to lead me to greatness.

What art work would you love to have in your space/on your walls, and why?

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Enough said!!!

Fave rainy day comfort food or activity?

All day naked in bed with my lover surrounded by steamed lobster dipped in warm butter, oysters, king crab legs, and rosé champagne. Oh yes, and lots of sex while listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue on repeat.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I went through my old diary I started in grade 5 and supposedly I wanted to be an actor, singer, and dancer like Michael Jackson. I didn’t do so badly for a kid beginning her formative years in the countryside of St. Ann’s, Jamaica.

What was your favourite game or toy as a child?

I loved my black Cabbage Patch doll. My mom had to almost fight someone in the store to get it because they were a phenomenon when they first came out and flew off the shelves. There were barely any black ones and they went fast, so I ended up with a boy. I just put a dress on him and kept it moving. I wish I had him/her now.

What adult task would you like to get better at?

Leaving the DJ alone while he’s playing his set. I can almost get through a party without making a 90s hip hop song request. It’s really hard for me, especially when I’m enjoying my dark rum a little too much and wanting to rap my ass off.

If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?

I would spend a year in Lagos, Nigeria, learning the Yoruba language and culture. I already know Jamaican patois from my mom’s side. Mastering the rich language of my father’s Nigerian heritage would be a dream come true.

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