She’s Nigeran born, raised in the United Kingdom, and now lives in Miami? That’s right, actress Sope Aluko is a rare gem. She’s had recurring roles on Netflix’s “Bloodline”, NBC’s “Law & Order,” as well as “Parks and Recreation.” You’ll also notice her in the upcoming highly anticipated film, Black Panther. In this exclusive interview, Sope Aluko gives us insight on her journey as an actress and what we can expect from her character, Shaman on Black Panther.
Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into acting?
Well, I’m happily married with two wonderful children, 15 and 12-years old, two boys. I actually did not start immediately into acting. I studied engineering as an undergraduate and received my degree. After that, I received my Masters degree in Marketing and worked in Corporate America for about 15 years. I gave that up about nine years ago to follow my passion for acting. I had previously done some theater work in England but I did not pursue it because my parents did not feel as if it was a profession that would give me sustainable money. So, I kind of put the idea on the shelves. My parents passed away in 2006 and 2009, that’s when I just decided that I was going to leave my corporate job and pursue acting full time.
You were raised in the United Kingdom, do you mind telling us a little about that and how living in the United States has been for you?
I was raised not only in the United Kingdom but pretty much around the world. My father was in the diplomatic service and as a result, we ended up traveling quite a bit. I’ve lived in countries such as, Trinidad, Indonesia, Switzerland, however most of my schooling was in the United Kingdom. I got into boarding school at the age of 10. I did all of my schooling there, including my Bachelors and Masters. It was wonderful, I loved being in the United Kingdom and growing up there. I moved to America by accident. I was away on holiday and met my husband and well, the rest is history.
What do you believe the entertainment industry taught you? If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do different?
Yes, I would have just trusted myself a little bit more. When I started off in this industry, I think I was a misnomer, they didn’t know what to do with me. Here I was, a Nigeran born, British actor, an American and they would say, “I love your accent but…” I just didn’t trust myself enough. I started going to classes to try to get rid of my accent. One day, I just said, NO because this is me. If that doesn’t work then maybe I’m just not cut out for this. The minute I did that, things just changed, that confidence built. So, if I could go back in time, I would just have that confidence and just know that you are you .
What can we expect from your character, “Shaman” in the upcoming film, Black Panther?
Oh it’s so exciting! So I play the role of Shaman but because the film is coming to theaters soon, I can’t say much but I will say that I’m very connected to the role that Forest Whitaker plays which is, Zuri. We’re both spiritual leaders, he is also counselor to the King, T’Challa and that is the MOST I have ever given in any interview. (laughs) I’m just so excited for everyone to see the movie.
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Photographer: Gray Hamner
Stylist: Marni Seabright
Hair: Alexander Armand