Muna Otaru: from Liverpool to Lagos to the Big Screen

Posted by Kay

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Muna Otaru in vintage from The Gathering Goddess

 

“There is nothing in my history that would make me think that I’d be sitting here now…”

..said actress Muna Otaru over PG-Tips in the makeshift make-up room th

at is my kitchen. ‘Here’ of course meaning as an actress who has worked on films such as Lions For Lambs, Rendition and TV shows such as The Wire, Law & Order and Lost.

Muna (currently in Civil War drama “The Keeping Room‘ starring Hailee Steinfeld, Sam Worthington & Brit Marling) was born in Liverpool. Her Mother and Father both met in Kogi state (former Kwara state), Nigeria, got married then moved from Lagos to Liverpool when Muna’s father was a sea captain for the Nigerian National Shipping Line.

Muna's Mum

Muna’s Mother “the woman I aspired to look like when I grew up”

 

Act 1.

They all moved back to Lagos a few years later which is where she grew up until she went to the states to complete High School.

Whilst at Montgomery community college, she saved to further her studies in film at the University of Maryland Baltimore County where she was only able to do a year. “I had to pay own way but eventually couldn’t afford it so I had to drop out a year shy of completing my degree”.

 

Act 2. “I really had no role models in terms of what I wanted to do and I was just making it up as I went along.”

During this time in Baltimore, resourceful and determined Muna was working at a restaurant in a top boutique hotel and this was where Muna had a conversation that was to make ‘the change‘- the one you need in order to take you to the place where creative instinct leads you to a new journey. I asked Muna how she kept her motivation and belief during this time, she said “I let my desire for the work propel me forward”.

Director Ron Howard came in and Muna plucked up the courage to approach him. Being an ingenue, wasn’t she nervous of engaging with one of the most successful directors in the world? “I was naive and unfettered by the business and needed guidance. I was dropping out of school so I seized the moment to ask advice. He said get a job as production assistant to learn about the business behind the scenes”.

Cut to a few weeks later, Muna was grumpy. Despite being about to drop out, she still had an assignment at university to finish.

Act 3. Opportunity knocks. Again.

The hotel that Muna was working at was clearly the place to be. “I overheard a table talking about the TV show The Wire – there were 2 producers and Maurice Marabel (director of the show’s promos) at the table. I got chatting and asked advice then Maurice invited me to come on to set the next day to be his intern whilst they were shooting the promo for the show”.

Muna met the crew involved, took her CV and got the job as office production assistant on The Wire a few weeks later. “I hung around on set as much as I could and stayed as late as I could to learn as much as possible.” A few PA jobs-within-film later, Muna became the producer’s assistant on The Wire’s second season, leaving after the season wrapped to do more PA jobs within the film industry in the Baltimore/Washington DC area..

Muna by window 800

Act 4.  Arc of the story.

This is where I add the fact that Muna had never planned on being an actor.

All along Muna wanted to be a director.

“I was the accounting clerk on the movie Syriana (starring George Clooney). The cast was fantastic-I am a big fan of Jeffrey Wright. Watching the actors on Syriana made me want to be more creative and learn from that aspect”.

Act 5. “This is when I fell in love with acting”

Muna heard through the grapevine that The Wire were casting so she emailed producer Nina Kostroff-Noble (who she used to work for) and asked her to let Muna know if there were any roles that she thought she’d be suited for. A couple of months later Nina called and told her about auditions for the part of ‘a student in a registrars office’.  Muna auditioned and got the part. What was it like being on set in an entirely different role? “They treated me like a Queen” said Muna, her broad smile audible in her voice, “they were doting on me- Dominic West said” Can I get my make-up touched up please” joking that I was getting all the attention”.

Act 6. The importance of studying.

Immediately assuming the life of a jobbing actor going to auditions was not Muna’s style. She moved to Los Angeles and on the sound advice of actors Clarke Peters and Wendell Pierce on the set of The Wire she went to study, enrolling in the 2 year Meisener Programme at the Joanne Baron DW Brown Studio. “I wanted to really deepen my work because I really enjoy the craft of acting and creating characters-I still study even now, I work with Tony Greco,  a method teacher. I believe that actors should practice and hone their craft, away from the business, in your little lab-just as dancers and musicians do”

Act 7. The Present.

“I was really gifted with the role of Mad, it is my hope and prayer that I continue to work on complex and interesting characters as my career progresses.”

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Muna wears vintage Emma Domb from The Gathering Goddess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make up:1236827_1486892494920407_1513591430575362347_n

Bobbi Brown luminous moisturising treatment foundation – 7 Almond
Nars sheer glow foundation – Dark 5

Tom Ford Cheek colour 04 Savage
Bobbi Brown lipstick – Sloped 36
Bobbi Brown Sheer loose powder
Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Black chocolate
Chanel Illusion D’Ombres Mirifique          

Rimmel London Lash Accelerator Mascara in Black

 

The Keeping Room is directed by Daniel Barber and written by Julia Hart.

Follow Muna on twitter and instagram

Thank you The Gathering Goddess for the beautiful vintage clothes!

Thank you Clifford for the beautiful hair.

Makeup and pictures by Kay

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  1. Inevitable Steps…

    Muna Otaru: from Liverpool to Lagos to the Big Screen | ThandieKay…

    October 12, 2015 at 11:51 am
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