[CONTINUED FROM FEMI TAYLOR - PART 1]
“In 1985 I joined Royal Opera House Company, touring Japan and South Korea with contemporary dance act Sampson & Delilah. The Asian tour was amazing. However it seemed that not many of the locals had ever seen a black person before and kept staring at me, with an ear-piercing ‘kawaiiiiiiiiiii’. I would turn round and find a whole bunch of people having gathered right behind me!
Returning to London I joined Mark Wraith (piano & music) and Tony Ajagbe (lyrics) to form an R & B band called Kite with myself singing solo. We performed around London, culminating in a gig at Ronnie Scotts.“
”In the meantime, Cats had become an international success with shows starting up all around the world. In 1987 I followed a call to Melbourne, to become their first Bombalurina. It was a great time. Apart from doing the show I had time to have own my solo band, as well as singing in another band called Patois, and doing some modeling and teaching dance on the side. I also partook in two films: as ‘Letitia Adjewa’ in Flirting alongside Thandie Newton and Nicole Kidman; in A Kink in the Picasso by Mark Gracie I played the main character Nadia. When my Cats contract ended I joined the cast of Buddy Holly Sydney, touring Australia and New Zealand.”
TWO FRIENDS MEET
Uscha: “Easter 1986 I came to England for two weeks to look for a room to rent as I had enrolled at the London College of Fashion starting September.
A friend in England - Hugh Thomson - offered help looking for a place to rent. But as the trip neared its end I was getting rather nervous as in fact we had looked at more caves in Devon than rooms in London, hence found nothing to move into. On the last day in England, Hugh took me to his friends, the Taylors, for Sunday lunch.
“Allegra’s comment ‘shame you just missed Femi, she’s looking for a flatmate...’ meant that Femi became my first ever landlady - I her first ever tenant. I called her from Germany a few days later and then moved into her flat while she was on tour in Tokyo. First I only had her lovely voice to go by, her cat Kahindi and the stage photos from Cats on the wall. By the time she left for Australia a year later I would miss her terribly.”
THE MYSTERY MESSAGE
Uscha: “1995 I was living in the Chelsea Hotel in New York, sharing room #819 with my friend Muzia, when Femi came to visit.
A few days into her stay I came back to the room and saw the red light blinking on the old clunky house phone caked with layers of paint. The message was from a casting agent in California: “We are looking for Femi Taylor. Could she please contact us….”
Femi: “I found a note Uscha had scribbled on a piece of paper, saying that a casting director for Star Wars wanted me to call her as soon as possible. It is still today a mystery to me how they found me at the Chelsea Hotel. I had not mentioned to anybody that I was going to New York, the States – let alone that I was staying with Uscha... I placed the call and found I was speaking with Robin Gurland who had been trying to track me down for a while.”
”George Lucas was revamping the three classic Star Wars films and wanted to add extra footage to the ‘Jabba the Hutt’ scene. Apparently no one believed that even if Robin managed to find me, there would be any way that 12 years later I would fit into the original outfit, which they would need, to be able to merge the scenes together. But credit to Robin, she persisted.”
Very uncharacteristically for her, Uscha had just joined an underground boxing gym where we went and took some pictures of me to send back to California. A couple of days on we received a call saying that I had not changed, and a few weeks later Lucas Films flew me out to San Francisco.”
“I was the only actor from the original Star Wars to be asked back to do more footage. The shoot ended up being two weeks instead of one. The assistant director Rick McCullum discussed with George Lucas that one needed to follow the story line through by seeing Oola physically confronted by the rancor before being eaten. The stage team spent two days just to build an extra set for my scene. “
“It was so alien but at the same time I felt at home wearing the original outfit that I had worn in 1982. It was wonderful to be a part of history and working alongside George Lucas this time, staying on his enchanting and peaceful ranch. The wooden interiors throughout the whole space gave so much warmth and helped the ‘home coming’ feeling.”
The next phonecall was from Andrew Lloyd Webber, this time for Jesus Christ Superstar... “I was the last to audition for this amazing piece directed by Gale Edwards. After four auditions, they offered me the role of one of the dancers and a featured part in the show. This was a life changing show, as here I met my future husband David, the sound engineer of the show.”
- As mother of two gorgeous boys, Femi spent the early years of her young family living and travelling in France, Germany and Scotland. Returning to London she trained as designer now using her married name Femi Ogilvy.
FROM DANCE TO DESIGN
Being awarded in 2008 a Diploma of Architectural Interior Design at KLC School of Design, Chelsea, Femi has since as been active as interior designer focusing on kitchen design.
Launching her design consultancy Zambezi Designs in 2012 she explains: ”Dance is movement in space to rhythm and sound. Design is creating space with its own rhythm to it. In my work I seek to achieve a natural balance of practicality and physicality, elegance and beauty. What better space is there with to start with in your house than the kitchen - the soul of every family home, the life of every party.”
Very luckily for her fans, despite her busy Zambezi schedule Femi does manage to make time for film projects still. Watch this space!