Pardon the Introduction – Adepero Oduye Went From Pre-Med to Hollywood

VIBE got a chance to chat briefly with Adepero Oduye, star of Focus Film’s groundbreaking new movie Pariah. Pariah is the story of a gay 17-year-old girl who is juggling several identities and eventually reaches her breaking point. Here, Oduye reveals how she went from pre-med to landing a feature film role and what it was like working with Kim Wayans.

How did you go from pre-med to acting?

My father passed away my junior year and it was a wake up call. He was young and it forced me to ask myself what I really wanted to do with my life. I was doing this whole medicine thing for my father and I asked myself what I really wanted to do and it kind of hit me so I took an acting class my senior year and I loved it. So I graduated school, finishing the pre med program but I knew I was not going to med school because I wanted to pursue acting. I didn’t really know anything about acting and what that meant but I just started studying and auditioning.

Talk about your character in Pariah?

I play Alike (Uh-lee-kay), who is a teenager juggling multiple identities and at this point in the film she’s exhausted by those identities and trying to figure out who she wants to be in the world but on her on her own terms.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from working with Kim Wayans?

She gave me some really awesome advice about setting my sites as a creative artist—not just being an actor but if I have interest writing then I should explore that because when I’m not acting I could be writing and when I’m not writing maybe I can be directing, so just opening the scope so that I’m multifaceted and it gives me more control in my career.

What do you want people to take away from “Pariah”?

That we are more similar than we are different, and that It’s ok to be weak. It’s ok to be yourself. It’s ok to not be in the box and it’s ok to begin that process in spite of whatever is going on in your environment, conditioning and home environment. Whatever is right, you just figure it out and begin that process so that it can be on your own terms to love and accept yourself first and foremost.

*Adepero is currently reading scripts for future projects.

Pariah hits theaters on Dec 28.