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Kiki Omeili is traveling the world, documenting her best moments [Pulse Interview]

Actress Kiki Omeili talks exclusively to Pulse about ticking off her travel Wishlist and documenting her adventures.

Kiki Omeili [Instagram/flowergirlstudios]

Kiki Omeili's acting career is far from over as the actress is devoting some time these days to building a YouTube channel where she documents her travels.

A few years ago, the 'Lekki Wives' star launched Kiki's Wanderlust, a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing sights of the world through her eyes. Currently, she has visited 27 countries (and counting) and is in no rush to quit.

What piqued your interest in travel vlogging?

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To be honest, what I like to do actually is travel. I feel like Naija is such a stressful place that from time to time you just need to go out and clear your head. I call it 'head shrinking'. I feel like I need to go out from time to time to shrink my head. So, I was really just travelling for myself not because I wanted to vlog or anything.

However, sometime last year, I started using the footage I already had, which I made when I wasn't planning to vlog or anything, just for my own consumption but I decided to share it with people. Let me just say at the moment, when I'm travelling now, it's actually more intentional. I'm doing that now with the intention of sharing with people, unlike before when I started just for myself.

How many countries have you visited so far and now that you've become intentional about it, do you have a target for the number of countries to visit per year?

So far, I have visited 27 countries and I don't have a target because at the end of the day you need money to travel. So, no, I don't have a target. What I do have is a travel wish list. I have a list of countries that I would really love to go to, so that is what I have and as the funds allow I will visit. Not just funds, I have a Nigerian passport and you know the visa issues that Nigerian travellers face. It's quite a hassle to travel. So those are all the factors I have to consider but I do have a Travel Wishlist.

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All the 27 countries you have visited which would you say had the best and worst memories for you?

For the best memories, there are quite a few of those. I really liked Greece. I wanted to go to Greece for the longest time but I remember being in Europe in 2018 and I said I was going to Greece and the people I was talking to looked at me like I was crazy. 'How can you go to Greece alone, nobody goes to Greece alone', so because of that, I didn't go. It took me three-and-a-half years to be able to go.

When I eventually did, I was very intentional about it. I did it city by city because it was somewhere I had wanted to go for a long time. It lived up to the hype; it was such a nice, wonderful place to visit. Greece had really fun memories for me.

I don't want to say worst but somewhere I think that had an underwhelming effect on me was Venice and that is because for a long time I wanted to go and get on a Gondola. I felt like when I eventually did, it was underwhelming.

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First, Venice is a very small place, second, there is a lot of water and bridges everywhere, there is not much to see or do so if you are a tourist. Apart from getting on a Gondola really and going to San Marco which is a square, there really isn't much to do in Venice, to be honest. I was quite underwhelmed for a place I wanted to see for so long, the place doesn't really seem to be anything to write home about.

Why film and not medicine?

I do get this question a lot. As a matter of fact, I was on a radio program recently and I was asked this question. Truthfully, I do both but film is a passion of mine. Right from secondary school I liked performing, movies and all that even though I tell a lot of people that when I first tried to break into the industry, what I wanted to do really was presenting and not even acting but acting fell in my lap and I found myself loving it. Whenever I am on a movie set, I feel really content and fulfilled. I decided this is what I wanted to do.

Medicine, I always say will always be a part of me, because in practically everything that I do you will see touches of medical titbits and medical knowledge here and there. If you watch anything produced by me you will gain something by way of medical knowledge. I started a foundation recently that is health based as well. When you say why film and not medicine, medicine is still very much part of the mix. It's just that film is my passion so at the moment it's actually what pays the bills.

So that means you don't practise medicine?

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No, I don't practice medicine and I also do not consult in any hospital, I don't practice clinical medicine at all.

But I'm sure family members still call you to say, "I have a headache, what should I take?"

It's not just family members, even friends, they do it all the time. I might not be making any money from practising medicine but I'm still practising medicine all the time in my own way, it's eternal.

How long have you been acting?

It's about a decade, I started in 2012.

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What role would you say is your most memorable in these 10 years?

I have had quite a few but one role that I love so much simply because I feel like that character was a lowlife, and many Nigerians are able to relate to that character, was my character in 'Lekki Wives.'

I played Loveth. Many Nigerians loved her, they related to her even though I feel like there are so many things wrong with her, because 'Lekki Wives' was a series reflecting a lot of societal issues, that people really keyed into. So, I really liked that character. Another character that is dear to me is the character I played in a 2015 movie by Walter Banger, 'Gbomo Gbomo Express'

That film is about seven years old but I still really love that character because she's so far removed from whom I really am and for me, the opportunity to be able to do something totally different from who I really am is 90% of the fun of acting. The fact that I'm able to say or do things I won't ever do in real life is acting for me.

You mentioned 'Lekki Wives' and I recall that the producer Blessing Egbe mentioned a Reunion. How much can you reveal?

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Well, we shot the first season of 'Lekki Wives' in 2012 even though it was released in 2013. So, this is like one decade later and she has decided that produce a reunion because people keep talking and asking about the show. It's currently in the works, it hasn't been shot yet but yes, it will happen.

And you are going to be a part of it?

Definitely, she is bringing back all the old cast and adding a few new more.

A lot of people, especially young people are interested in starting a career in Nollywood. Going back to your newbie years, do you recall challenges you encountered and how much has changed?

I encountered a lot of challenges, trying to break in. I remember it was very difficult, I attended so many auditions I lost count, it was crazy.

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Social media wasn't a big thing then when I started, there was no Instagram. I feel like between then and now it's a tad easier for people to break into the industry and I say that because now you are actually able to record videos on your phone of you doing a scene or doing something and you are able to post it online. I've heard many producers and casting directors talk about how they were able to cast someone from seeing a skit that they did or from seeing something they posted online.

Between now and when I first started I'm so proud of the progress that Nollywood has made. I like the fact that we have international recognition for many of the movies that we make and I think that a big part of that is because we have online platforms that are available to people internationally because I remember back then when I was travelling whenever I asked anybody abroad what should I bring for you, they will say bring me Nigerian films but right now, there are online platforms available to them.

What would say is the craziest thing you have done to prepare yourself for a role?

When I first started acting, I realised that I was drawing on what I call sense memory and that is sometimes visualizing some character, some person that I have met in the past or somebody I have observed in the past. There were many times I would draw on what I have observed people do to bring a character to life. So, apart from the obvious thing of dying your hair or cutting your hair or things like that, something I constantly do is observe, I wouldn't call that crazy.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

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I won’t talk film because over the years I have done film after film. So apart from my movie ‘Run’ which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Kiki’s Wanderlust on YouTube, I recently started Kixstar Foundation. It’s a health-based foundation focused on women and children. What my foundation aims to do is pay for simple and complex medical procedures that people can't afford.

There are people that need procedures but can't afford it. My aim is to leverage my position both as a doctor and an actor to be able to bring those things to the people that need it and the reason my focus is on women and children is that from all my time in clinical practice, let me say nine out of 10 times it is the women and children that are at all the shorter end of the rope in terms of access to medical facilities.

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