Caroline Chikezie went from being a medicinal chemistry major to actually playing a woman in STEM on Fox’s The Passage in a classic tale of following her dreams. The British actress grew up with strict Nigerian parents whom she says gave her the option of choosing whether to be a doctor or a lawyer as a profession. She followed suit at first, but she couldn’t shake that nagging, “What if?” feeling.
“In my heart, I knew I wanted to be an actress. I’ve always known. From as early as I can remember, I’ve always known I wanted to act,” Chikezie tells Hello Beautiful. “It wasn’t a subject I could broach with my parents because I knew I’d be disappointing them.”
Chikezie continued with her studies until she confided her ambitions in a tutor who encouraged her to pursue her real dreams. After secretly applying to the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in the UK, things began falling into place. Her parents weren’t going to support her financially, but she was awarded a full scholarship, and the rest is…you know how the saying goes. Chikezie made it to Hollywood. She has appeared in various TV shows in the UK and in the United States like Supernatural, Torchwood, and currently, The Passage, as Dr. Major Nichole Sykes. Sykes is part of a team of doctors working to eradicate a US Government experiment that turned death row inmates into infectious vampires.
“She’s a very complex character, which I rather love playing complex characters because I think, humans, we’re never just one thing. You are a blend of all these different qualities,” says Sykes. “I just think she’s a strong woman, and I don’t think, often in Hollywood—we’re not allowed to play those roles. We’re not really awarded those parts, especially being a woman of color. When I read it—and it wasn’t written necessarily for a black woman, but they just opened it up. They opened up the playing field, and they invited me to come audition.”
Chikezie joins the ranks of formidable Black female leads on TV like Taraji P. Henson, Issa Rae, and Michaela Coel, the latter two whom she especially loves. Let’s hope their paths cross on a project one day in an epic tale of #BlackGirlMagic.
“I feel like we haven’t even chipped away the tip of the block, in terms of the stories we have, and the stuff that’s gone on. I’d love, by the grace of God, to venture into more stories about Africa, and Nigeria, which is where I’m from, originally,” she says. “I think that Black Panther and the whole Wakanda situation—I know it really did capture my imagination, and make me fly internally, in terms of feeling like, ‘Wow, those are the sort of stories I wanna see where we’re superheroes, and magical.’ Because I think we actually are, and I want more of that. I want more positive stories, and for us to tap into our power more.”
The Passage airs Monday nights on Fox. Check your local listings for times.