Meet the newest adrenaline junkie on 'Flashpoint,' Olunike Adeliyi
After losing one of their own to a landmine, a new recruit named Leah joined the SRU.
However, despite the waves Leah caused when learning the ropes in Toronto’s most intense police unit, Olunike Adeliyi says she had the opposite experience with the cast and crew when she joined the series.
For the young Canadian actress, she says she was welcomed by the show, even before she landed the role -- especially during an audition with series star Hugh Dillon (“Ed Lane”).
“When I went to do the test shoot, Hugh was so gracious and wonderful with me, and he just built up my confidence… just going over my sides -- including new ones from that day, which was cool,” says Adeliyi.
“Amy Jo Johnson, David Paetkau… they all gave me some tips on how to relax and other good info. They made it feel like home and I’m very grateful; they’re very tight knit.”
Following a move back to Canada after living in Brooklyn for a few years and landing an audition with “Flashpoint,” Adeliyi knew that Leah was the perfect role for her.
“When I read about Leah and her character traits… it was me. Olunike and Leah are almost the same person,” says Adeliyi.
“So I completely went in being myself, because I’ve grown up as a tom-boy, and I’m pretty straightforward. I don’t censor things I say, and I speak from the heart. I’m just pretty confident in myself. We’re parallel that way. I love to do athletics and sports.”
Adeliyi, who recently graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, was able to put her athletic side to good use in one of her first episodes, “Never Let You Down,” which involved repelling down the side of a cliff.
“I did some training and rock-climbing so that I would know all the technical terms for tying the ropes and safely ascend rocks. That was exciting... it came natural to me. I had never rock-climbed before, but it seemed simple and easy because of my athletic background,” says Adeliyi.
“It was nice to see that the cast and crew were happy that I had that athleticism. It was like I was born for the part.”
Besides acting, Adeliyi is an established dancer who has toured for major international recording artists including Shaggy and George Clinton.
Adeliyi’s full-time addition to the cast is also a welcome presence for Amy Jo Johnson, who plays the team’s only other female member, “Jules.” According to Adeliyi, the pair hit it off and traded tips on set.
“Amy Jo is a sweetheart. We were able to talk a lot on set, bonding with her and her daughter, and she gave me really good advice. She’s been in this acting game longer than I have! I appreciated her a lot,” says Adeliyi.
“Amy Jo would also listen to what I would have to say about motherhood, she’s older than I am, but I’ve been a mother for 13 years, and she’s just become a mom. There was advice I could give to her, and give her insight of what to expect.”
With her foray into the world of television, Adeliyi has made a fundamental change to her own home: she bought a TV
“I only just recently got it, so my family could see ‘Flashpoint.’ But for 6 or 7 years, I raised my daughter with no TV or internet at all. She would go on the internet at school or the library, in the home it was always about education and home work.”
Adeliyi credits an inspirational meeting with Denzel Washington as one of the reasons she takes her craft so seriously.
“I was working on ‘John Q,’ and I had the honour of meeting Denzel through a friend of mine, and he lectured me, sat for hours one time, telling me how important it was for me to go to theatre school,” recalls Adeliyi.
“It’s because of him I went. He told me to apply and to see what happens, and years later I’m back here, and he was right! He was right! Now I have to send him a great thank you letter. When you are in the presence of greatness like that, and you don’t listen, what else are you doing? How do you get an opportunity like that? You don’t!”
But despite being back in her hometown, she admits there’s a part of her that misses Brooklyn.
“I do miss the raw, edgy elements of it. The smells, the pace, the hustle. Everyone is on their way to do something. I appreciated that element of it, and it created an element of that in me. There was no time for idle, except for smelling the roses in the country after you’ve done the work. And the shopping!”
As for having to step into a place vacated by a long-time cast member, Adeliyi has nothing but respect and admiration for Mark Taylor, who played “Lou” since the series premiere.
“I just wanted to say to him, thank you so much for providing an opportunity for me to come in and do my thing. Those are huge shoes to fill,” says Adeliyi.
“It was really hard to think of replacing an actor like that. I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity to believe. Mark Taylor, congrats to him for doing such a great job.”
Adeliyi cites Taylor’s final, gripping scene as the peak performance she’ll have to measure up to in her “Flashpoint” future.
“He killed it. He was kickass. It was so truthful. When I watched it I though, how am I going to top that? They’re all going to hate me when I come in! It was alright, it gave me a lot to play with. It was parallel to me coming in. I have to prove myself as Olunike and as Leah.”
With her new-found fame, Adeliyi is embracing all the fans that have looked her up online, and is giving back to them as much as possible.
“Some fans have found me on Facebook and they are so supportive, and I answer each and every email! I’m overwhelmed and grateful. I hope I do them justice.”
Watch every episode of “Flashpoint” online now with CTV.ca’s “Holiday Rewind” special, featuring full episodes from primetime his like “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” back for a limited time.