• Passionate Pathways with Amarachi Okorom

    This month I sat down with Amarachi Okorom, a true grace of God (as her name suggests). We talked about her journey with WEYA, her childhood dreams to be on Disney Channel and her plans for the year.

    Amarachi joined WEYA in 2017 as a participant of Wyndham Edge. In 2018, she auditioned for WEYA’s flagship ensemble, the Edge Ensemble, and got the part as Miranda  in Caliban which toured regional Victoria in May. Amarachi also worked as a support artist at WEYA helping to facilitate an in- school residency and community youth theatre project throughout the year. It’s pretty clear she’s good at what she does. When asked where her passion for performing stemmed from, she said high school in New Zealand, where she grew up. “I loved making people laugh, I loved being crazy and I just loved being the centre of attention – drama gave me all of that.” In Year 10, a new drama teacher with red spikey hair helped her realise just how much she enjoyed drama and for the year following, she started to take it seriously, learning theories and performing in school plays. “The highlight was playing Lady Macbeth, it was my last performance at school and it was my first big role in front of a huge audience; she was a strong female character and playing her made me feel like such a boss.”

    Amarachi moved to Melbourne in Year 11, and like any teenager trying to fit in with a new crowd, she grew increasingly self-conscious. “I just didn’t feel confident and I didn’t feel like I was good at (acting) anymore; so I stopped for three years.”

    A big turning point for Amarachi was being seen performing a spoken word piece at her church’s Christmas production by Rahima Hayes, from Wyndham City Council, who then encouraged her to join WEYA’s Wyndham Edge theatre project. Not knowing what to expect from the workshop, she said to herself that she wouldn’t return if she felt left out during the session. “For someone who’s really shy and anxious about everything, I went in there and felt like I belonged straight away. The facilitators, Georgia Symons and Natalie Lucic, made the space really friendly and welcoming, and from then on I’ve been doing acting stuff and I haven’t stopped.”

    Since joining WEYA, Amarachi says she’s gained lots of likeminded friends who share her interests and is more confident, “from the first time I started, I was comfortable to share my ideas but I feel like I’ve gone up a level since then and my confidence has been boosted, a lot.”

    When asked about her most memorable time at WEYA, Amarachi said, “I’ve always felt like my voice is heard. There was one point in Caliban where I read the script and thought that Miranda was a bit of a lamb; she was Caliban’s best friend, or Ferdinand’s wife or Prospera’s daughter. She wasn’t her own person and they took that on board and we worked together to create her character; that was a really good experience.”

    Amarachi has two big goals this year; the first is to draft up a play that explores what happens to ‘culture’ when you have a room of culturally diverse people with different identities. “I’m from New Zealand and I am Nigerian, so I have values from both places, and I’m Christian, and I’m this and that, so I’m all mixed together. Trying to fit someone into one box is where the problem starts and it’s difficult to figure out which box everyone fits in to.”

    “I feel like I can’t really talk about culture without knowing mine first, so phase one is going to be research; talking to my family about my own culture and reading lots of books. ‘Things fall apart’ and ‘Lionheart’ on Netflix are on the list.” She’s then hoping to draft up a skeleton of the play to present to friends, then do improvisation sessions with them. “The SIGNAL workshop really inspired me with pulse work, so I’m hoping to do that and start putting things together and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have my first draft written.”

    Amarachi’s second goal for the year is to build her portfolio by going to auditions, and eventually applying to drama schools in Melbourne; and she’s already on track. Currently she’s rehearsing for Lear with Skin of Our Teeth Productions in Geelong. “I went there, I did the audition, and I performed my Lady Macbeth monologue from high school and it’s like I’ve gone full circle.”

    “I’m finally getting out of my comfort zone and that’s what I wanted – even if they’re not huge roles, I just want to put myself out there and start doing auditions.”

    Another young talent to look out for. We can’t wait to see what Amarachi accomplishes this year. In the meantime, you can support Amarachi by checking her out in Lear this March, tickets available here – https://trybooking.com/zumk