Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriella Oloye.
Gabriella, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a Haitian-American actor, comedian and nurse practitioner. More simply, I’m a human being whose purpose is to be kind and help others. I was raised in Miami, FL in a vibrant household by my Haitian mother who is a teacher and my father who studied and adopted Nigerian culture. As a child, I loved being the center of attention. I loved to display my performance art—dancing and yelling obnoxious words, while my brothers played video games. Sometimes my performances led to repetitive lessons on the meaning of the word “stop” but I treasured the effect I could have on myself and others through creativity.
Learning acting and especially improv in middle school felt like experiencing love at first sight. I had a vision but a pituitary tumor that was found based off of my mother’s intuition led me down a different path. By age 16, after two brain surgeries and a radiation procedure, I was tumor-free and left the experience being granted two things: an awe for the field of nursing and the lovely anatomical gift of being 6’8”. With these gifts from my pituitary tumor, I was able to experience life as an athlete in college and began a career that would allow me to serve others the way I was served.
After finishing school, I chose to move to LA because I knew I wanted to pursue acting. Along the road to becoming a nurse practitioner (NP), I felt drawn to do more and create more. Once I arrived to LA, acting and improv classes at Identity School of Acting and Second City led to the manifestation of my ability to express my purpose fully. As a NP, I get to heal people through medicine. As a comedian and actor, l fulfill my purpose through laughter and creativity.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not been easy. Getting to where I am now has required years of studying, humbling CNA work, practice, planning, stress-relief twerking and overall hustling. My first year as a NP in LA, I dealt with self-doubt. I also had difficulty accepting my identity as NP in the real world compared to how I imagined it would be. I sometimes still wish that I could spend an hour with each of my patients and give them solutions to all of the challenges they experience but I remember to just do my best with the time I have.
It’s also difficult to be juggling two very different careers. Like many of my nursing colleagues, I too want to expand my scope through attaining certifications in additional specialties but I’m sacrificing this for my primary passion. Time management is key to meeting goals for both careers. I’ve had days where I’ve had to breakdown scripts while eating lunch, had 30 minutes to drive home from work, change, shoot a self-tape audition and head to an improv show. When you sprinkle a few toxic relationships into the mix, it definitely makes for a rocky road but it also makes for great stand up material.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
What sets me apart from other artists, besides my unique physique and work ethic, is my vivid imagination. The perspective I have as woman of color also supports the fearlessness that I use to act and improvise. Currently, I’m working on a pilot for a comedy organization and creating a sketch show at Second City with a cast of 8 other improvisors.
On the medical side of things, I provide primary care services to underserved patients across the lifespan at a community health center. I aim to provide quality, compassionate care and do my best to meet my patients half-way by creating treatment plans that work for their lives.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I honestly feel as though everyone who I’ve ever interacted with deserves some credit. People who’ve I’ve met briefly walking in the street have contributed to my well being just by simply saying hello. My mother really deserves all of the credit though. Where do I start? She encouraged my creativity while embracing practical decisions that gave me the ability to chase my dreams. Where would I be if she didn’t catch my tumor? My mother is who I call after a bad audition, she is who I called for pep talks before walking into difficult days at work. She is everything to me.
And if my mother felt she could share a portion of her credit, it would go to my two friends in LA, who honestly feel more like family than friends: Jennifer Lettsome and Kehinde Elemuren. Jennifer, an LA native, has been on this journey with me since we became roommates in NP school. She’s been my study buddy, she’s inspired me and supported me as an actor and an NP, she welcomed me to her city and made me feel like I was home. Kehinde, also a fellow NP, guided me through my first year as an NP by always being available to help with clinical questions. He, in many ways, has been present as a supporter for both of my careers. I’ll forever be thankful to him for taking my first headshots and for always being there when I need someone to talk to.
- Email: email@example.com