Whether portraying the leader of the Amazonian vampires in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” or the troubled girlfriend of an evil gangster in the BBC television series “EastEnders,” Judi Shekoni has had a consistent acting career. Originally from Manchester, she has appeared on every major television channel in the U.K. She’s also had roles in Bollywood, Nollywood and Hollywood films, a rarity for an actress to tackle all three industries. 33 year-old Shekoni, who stars in the NBC sci-fi drama “Heroes Reborn,” took time off her busy schedule to talk to Trendy’s Samantha Ofole-Prince.
The series “Heroes Reborn” is a continuation of the sci-fi series “Heroes,” in which ordinary people discover that they have special abilities. Describe Joanne Collins, the character you play?
She’s a woman out for revenge. She has lost her son and is seeking to avenge his death by tracking down and eradicating people with special powers. If you imagine being a mother and losing your only child, it definitely takes you to a dark place. She feels it’s her mission in life to seek revenge for those she believes caused his death.
Were you a fan of the original show or did you have to watch the series prior to auditioning for the role of Collins?
I was a huge fan and have watched the original series and binge watched the first season. I am very interested in people with special powers, abilities and human potential. Television shows that tap into that aspect that we are more than we think we are grabs me.
13 episodes have been taped of the series and aside from seeing you battle people with special powers why else should audiences tune in?
It’s a show that deals with human possibility and potential and it touches on some of the elements that are going on in our world right now that people can resonate with. There’s stuff everyone can relate to.
Have you always wanted to be an actress?
From around seven years old I always wanted to be an actress. I remember a workshop that I wanted to go and study as a child, but it was too far and expensive. That set the desire in me and if I couldn’t do it then, I was determined to find a way to do it at some point. It took me till I was 18 when I moved to London from Manchester.
As an actress, where do you drawn the line when it comes to selecting projects? Are there roles you won’t play?
I will always find and explore something in the role that makes sense to me. I do try to have integrity and a moral compass and use intuition so I go with gut and intuition.
The word ‘hero’ has been thrown around lately, what do you think makes a hero?
A hero is one who moves things forward for other people and it doesn’t necessarily mean sacrifice. It’s someone who makes things better for the world or for other people at large.
You are of Nigerian descent, but you were born in the UK. How often do you visit Nigeria?
I definitely have a lot of Nigerian going on in my name. My dad is Nigerian and my mum is half Spanish and half British. Shekoni is Yoruba and my middle name is Iyabo. I have been to Nigeria twice, which was great, and I would love to get back there again.
There’s been an influx of British actors heading for Hollywood. With the crowded market, it increases competition in an industry where there are already very limited roles for actors of color. Do you worry about that?
Everybody is so individual and even if you have me and another girl who is British, we are so different and it’s all about energy. You never find two people with the same energy. You will get the part meant for you. I cottoned on early that I have to believe there are things that are meant to be and meant to be mine, and there are those that aren’t. That is the only way you can stay sane in this world.
“Heroes Reborn” airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news. Twitter @samanthaofole
Photo credit: Marisa Q Photography