African-Irish pop/R&B star Samantha Mumba is giving Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera a run for their money. The 18-year-old diva’s debut album, Gotta Tell You (Polydor Records), not only topped the Irish charts but held an impressive reign on the U.S. and U.K. charts.
Mumba, who put her education on hiatus last year, has been busy touring countries to support her highly acclaimed albums and making guest appearances on a variety of Irish television shows. But her talent does not end there. She recently earned the role of Mara in a modernized version of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (Dream Works and Warner Bros. Pictures). The singer/songwriter took a few minutes out of her chaotic schedule to talk to The Hatchet about her status in the music and movies.
“On my first day on the set, I thought, ‘Oh, my god! What have I gotten myself into?'” Mumba said.
She spoke of her first-day fears and jitters, quickly adding, “I’ll try anything once. I’m a sucker for a challenge.”
Losing her pleasant accent was one such challenge – both for Mumba and her Australian co-star Guy Pierce, with whom Mumba did her second screen test. Both of them pulled off the feat after a great deal of effort.
Mumba said she never had any serious aspiration to act, and that the part just fell into her lap through the efforts of her manager.
“I never thought that I was actually getting the part,” Mumba said.
After filming The Time Machine, Mumba has been bitten by the acting bug and is determined to continue working in films in addition to her music career. She reports that she does not find one artistic medium any more difficult than the other, simply different.
The environment on the set was much like a family, Mumba said. In fact, Mumba’s real-life brother Omero was cast as Kalen, her onscreen brother.
“Everybody has to work as a team, because we’re all working toward an end result,” she said.
When asked about working with first-time live action film director Simon Wells, Mumba said, “It was my first time as well, so we could appreciate each other’s position.”
Mumba added that Wells has a difficult and consuming job.
“I don’t know how he slept at night,” she said.
Mumba also gleefully discusses the stunts involved in such a film as The Time Machine.
“I did most of the stunts myself. I loved it!”
Mumba said doing her own stunts allowed for better close-ups during action scenes. And apparently she got off easy with them: both Guy Pierce and Omero Mumba suffered from bruised and cracked ribs as a result of their escapades.
While Mumba declined to comment on other film projects in the works, fans can be sure to see her on the big screen again soon. And she maintains her music celebrity, continuing to garner recognition in the pop community.