For Mariam Owusu-Poku, Miss Malaika Ghana 2018, moving from modelling to acting was inevitable. “I’ve always wanted to act, and acting and pageantry are not too far apart.”
Even though she’s featured in a few TV shows and movies, ENO, the just-launched Ghanaian Showmax Original drama series, is her biggest project so far.
Mariam plays Kendall, the last of Abena Baafi’s (Gloria Osei-Sarfo) three daughters and her mother’s favourite. “Kendall has always been fed a fairytale luxury lifestyle by her mother so she grew up wanting the finer things in life and that includes her taste in men. She wants it all and must get it all,” Mariam says.
Read more about Mariam’s role in ENO, transitioning from pageantry to acting, working with director Shirley Frimpong-Manso and more in the interview below.
How did you land the role of Kendall?
When the call came through, I was told someone recommended me. I should really find out who this person was so I can thank them. The audition process was different from what I was used to. I was told to submit a showreel, résumé and a write-up about myself. Some of them were new to me so I had to quickly work on them and present them in the most professional way possible. I finally got a callback months later to come for an audition. Unfortunately, I missed my audition because I was unwell, and at that moment I knew I blew it. Fortunately, I got another callback and I am so grateful to Sparrow Studios for giving me the chance.
Were there instances where you saw yourself in your character’s experiences?
Character-wise no. Kendall is wild; she is extra and obnoxious. She lives on the edge, without thinking of the consequences or who she might hurt, which makes her very self-centred and selfish.
Funny enough, we are both mama’s favourites. I have a beautiful relationship with my mum, not like the one Kendall has with Abena, but we are both loved dearly by our mothers and we also love the soft life. No stress, please.
You were Miss Malaika 2018. How has it been transitioning from modelling to acting?
Miss Malaika Ghana was a life-changing experience that opened up so many amazing opportunities for me. I have always wanted to act, and acting and pageantry are not too far apart. A pageant is a reality show first and foremost so I was privileged to have had that experience because little did I know that being in front of the cameras constantly and expressing myself in public would come in handy. I just apply the same confidence and preparation when it comes to my acting. I prepare for my character; I make sure I know my lines and understand my character, so once the cameras roll I just do my thing and give it my all.
Was it intimidating to feature in such a major production?
Intimidating is not the word I will use to describe how I felt. I was nervous but I was more excited to be a part of a production like ENO. Also, the fact that I was going to witness and learn how things work with major productions was crazy.
How has it been working with Shirley Frimpong-Manso?
Shirley is fantastic. At least now I also know what the hype is about. From the very first meeting with her, I knew how to become a professional actor and how to stand out. That’s how much she feeds us nuggets of wisdom about film and this world of acting that we have chosen to be a part of. If people fall in love with Kendall, which I know they will, I owe it to her. I just wanted to learn all that I could from her on set. I was willing to be directed and I’m so glad I availed myself so she could take the character in the direction that we are all going to be proud of at the end of the day.
How about working with Gloria Osei-Sarfo?
Gloria is an absolute sweetheart. She is very welcoming and a very good actress. It was really nice being on set with her. She made me feel very comfortable and there was never a dull moment with her. We even came up with our own fun slang, which was hilarious. And she made sure we were always ready for our scenes and bringing our A-game. Trust Gloria to always look out for you.
What was your best moment filming ENO?
I thrive in a healthy working environment. And so for me, my best moment was definitely the people. I had so much fun on set. As tired as l was sometimes, I still woke up and would want to be on set because I knew I was going to have a good laugh and meet incredible people. Everyone was really professional, which is one thing I love about this production. Also playing the character Kendall, she is such a piece of work.
Why do you think Ghanaians will resonate with ENO?
It’s the reality of many people. That “gold digger”, that mother who wants to milk the beauty of her children or that girl who comes from a poor home being pressured to date high up so things can turn around for the family or that rich family wanting the wealth to stay in the family. The list is endless. These are stories we hear all the time from real people and so in some way, you will find your truth in a character. Even if it’s not your reality, you might know someone who is going through something similar.
ENO is the first-ever Showmax Original in Ghana, did you feel any kind of pressure to get it right?
I am really happy to be a part of history. You can’t mention the first-ever Showmax Original in Ghana without mentioning ENO. And I am a part of this masterpiece. I’m just really grateful. I do feel a bit of pressure because it’s a big deal. I remember I got nervous with every countdown to the premiere because ENO is the first of its kind and I want it to be as huge as it can be. I want viewers to enjoy the story and love the characters because I know how hard we’ve all worked to make this a phenomenal project.
Catch Mariam Owusu-Poku as Kendall Baafi on ENO on Showmax, with new episodes every Thursday.