Dr. Nike Imoru Visits Seattle Academy
Written by Tom Hajduk
Sometimes you just have to ask. Recently we were fortunate enough to host actor, casting director, and teacher Dr. Nike Imoru. Since I am teaching a class this trimester on Shakespeare’s “Roman” plays (Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, Cymbeline) I wanted to invite Nike to talk with the class about the roles she had played in various Shakespeare productions over the years. Yet I knew she was very, very busy with her casting director job and other projects. Nike wrote back immediately:
"Once, sometimes twice a week I walk by Seattle Academy—the building on the corner of Spring and 12th—so I feel I am familiar with it and the ethos of the school as well. I gaze in and see the various sculptures and mixed media works, or students deeply engaged in something . . ." She continued, "terms like 'Culture of Performance' and words like 'Risk' are definitely a part of my core being, thinking, and feeling values."
Nike is a strikingly accomplished actress, appearing in a number of local productions including two roles in all-female versions of the Shakespeare plays Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. She also wrote an autobiographical show titled "Ode" which spanned her youth in Nigeria through her college days in London to her arrival in Seattle’s theater world. She is an educator, coach, and casting director for a popular Zombie show on the SyFy channel called “Z Nation.” She is greatly appreciated and admired in Seattle and beyond; an actor friend of mine said, "she is a luminary to us." Such an appropriate word for Nike’s presence and effect on others.
You captured me in my happy space ... with Actors. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me to work with your young artists, for trusting me with brilliant young minds, for inviting me to partner my passion with yours. Let's do this again. And soon.— Nike Imoru (@NikeImoru) November 2, 2018
Nike visited the Advanced Acting class and then my Roman Shakespeare class. She has played Aaron in Titus Andronicus, the lead in Coriolanus, and has a definitive presence when onstage. I can say this, having seen her in two productions: when she played Coriolanus, an actual Roman general, I was afraid to move lest she would point me out in the audience and command me to join the combat "or, by the fires of heaven, I'll leave the foe / And make my wars on you."
Nike’s visit was a wonderful experience for all. It was delightful to observe how much fun she was having, too—she asked to return sometime, and we look forward to another visit. We are deeply thankful for her time and energy.
Here are some of the Advanced Acting students’ responses to her visit:
Nike's visit was amazing. It was very refreshing to see a successful actor who is also a woman of color. It was inspiring just to be in her presence; she was definitely a powerful character and really commanded the room. As far as her feedback, it was so cool to see someone passionate about Shakespeare break it down and explain why he was the greatest playwright. I think we're often bombarded with "Shakespeare is the best,” however, I never truly understood why. But the way Nike explained playing Shakespeare helped me understand a little better. She explained how we didn't need to necessarily be the character, but just be their advocate and this was really helpful because it helped me think of the ways of why I should support my character and why she needs my help and someone to speak for her. That is something I can definitely relate to.
I felt so good after Nike’s visit. Her attention to each of us really made me feel like I had unlimited potential. I loved how she would have us do exercises in stages or multiple times so that we got the rightaffect after. Having her tell me “good job” or simply smiling after my lines made me feel so powerful. I loved having her.
I found that Nike's visit helped to push my acting to a new level. Many of her strategies and activities helped to push my acting. I felt a new understanding of Shakespeare and my monologue. She provided me with a new viewpoint and allowed me to further express myself through my characters. She really helped my acting and her presence was a blessing. I am so grateful that I was able to have an experience with her.
I was able to connect with my character much better: thinking of myself as an advocate for my character and not the character myself forced me to find sympathetic parts of her and ones I was able to argue on her behalf. I'd never thought of doing that before, and it's definitely a strategy I'll use for difficult characters in the future.
I loved our workshop with Nike! Her passion was contagious, and the exercises she used worked well with my learning style. I discovered aspects about my monologue and character that otherwise would have taken me much longer. Working with her was a great experience!!
Nike's visit deepened my appreciation for the level of actor/character connection required for compelling performance. Through large group exercises and thoughtful questioning, she challenged us to create a rapport with our characters. She also emphasized the importance of "being", of not overacting but simply being present within a scene and offering our impulses of the moment. Nike's technique broadened my view of approaching these scenes, and streamlined their application.
Nike's visit made me think of how I act differently. Instead of "becoming" the character she had us become "advocates" of the character we were supposed to play. This helped me bridge the gap between me as a person and the character I'm supposed to play since I'm only advocating for them.
Nike's visit was super fun, she had clear directions for what we did, what she wanted to see, and was incredibly supportive. it felt really good to have someone guide a connection to a Shakespeare monologue and Nike made it all seem very natural.
Her deep care for the work and positive attitude was infectious. It was also nice to do in depth work again. I love Shakespeare and will take any chance to do work with it.
I really enjoyed Nike's visit and her acting strategies helped me acting a lot. Nike described our Shakespeare acting as not in our voices but in an "advocate" to the character's voice. This really helped me understand how to say the speech even if I personally didn't relate to it. The "advocate" sticks up for the character and understands the character even if you personally do not.
I thought that having Nike come in and teach us was really cool and getting feedback from a profession from outside of school. She clearly knew what she was talking about and brought a lot of wisdom from experience.