CONFIDENT: Bunmi Mojekwu
EASTENDERS actress Bunmi Mojekwu says that despite the online criticism she’s received from some viewers about her appearance, she’s perfectly comfortable in her skin.
The 22-year-old who plays Mercy Olubunmi in the BBC1 soap, admits that after she joined the programme last year, a handful of viewers said “some really vile things” about the way she looked.
Mojekwu, who plays the wife of wheeler-dealer Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb (Ricky Norwood), believes that much of the criticism she’s received is the result of viewers not being used to seeing young, dark-skinned actresses playing roles where they are the object of a man’s desires.
“You don’t see many actresses that look like me – dark-skinned, African girls – playing parts where the guy likes them or is in love with them,” Mojekwu told The Voice. “You don’t really see that, so I think, for some, that image is hard to get used to.
The actress, who also starred in writer Bola Agbaje’s award-winning production Gone Too Far, reveals that some of her dark-skinned childhood friends now look completely different, having bleached their skin in order to appear lighter. But Mojekwu insists she was never uncomfortable with her looks.
“Growing up, I never felt unattractive or anything like that. I wasn’t the girl that got all the guys when I was growing up. But I accepted that I am the way I am and I was comfortable with who I am. So I never had any self-esteem issues, but I know it wasn’t the same for some of my friends.
“There were friends I had when I was younger and when you see them now, they’ve bleached their skin and they look completely different to how they did back then. It’s sad to think that the way they were treated affected them in that way and made them want to take that route.”
The actress, who leaves EastEnders later this month, believes that the lack of young, dark-skinned women in the entertainment industry being depicted as beautiful or desirable can make dark-skinned women feel inadequate.
“You look at music videos and it’s the same type of girls getting the guys. Girls that look like me aren’t in the videos getting the guys’ attention. So you can understand why some young black girls might be affected by that and think that they have to look a certain way in order to get the guys.
“I’m trying hard to encourage young black girls to be comfortable with who they are and know that they can achieve their goals, regardless of what they look like.”