“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” is an idiom that Hellen Lukoma used to know all too well. She was the extra and the afterthought. But those days are long behind her now.
In the days when the girl band, the Obsessions, was all the rage Lukoma was part of the group known for its pretty girls, tight clothes, and high school dramas which harkened back to the days at Namasagali College, where many in the group had been.
The Obsessions made the careers of many of its members – especially in dancing but it helped Lukoma realise she could also sing. Something has happened to the shy introvert who used to be a follower. “I learnt a lot from being in The Obsessions,” she says. “I preferred to be on stage. Nothing else mattered. So if the spotlight was on someone else and it seemed like I was just following, well, at least I was noticed,” she says. No matter how she tries to make light of the memories, it is clear she is not sorry to have left that part of her life behind.
Today, Lukoma is a big star who has finally arrived on the Ugandan scene and the Hostel definitely helped put her there. “Being on TV has given me more mileage than I ever had before,” she admits. “I do not have to compete for the spotlight. I have it all on me.” She also believes no one could have done the part she plays on TV better than she does it.
Beautiful in a striking way, the actress, model, musician and business woman sometimes comes off like she is surprised by all the attention. But this character trait of not knowing her true worth is perhaps one of the reasons she took this long to come out. A photo shoot in African Woman, a defunct glossy magazine, three years ago, should have sent a signal to industry watchers that here was the next bombshell. Lukoma was presented on page after page as both fashionable and sexy with a knack of being able to mold into any character.
In 2010, the TV show, The Hostel, cast Lukoma. When the production company which cast her as one of the leads in the dramatic comedy they could only have guessed at the power she would have over audiences. While with many other characters on the show, the watching audience quickly picked sides and favourites, Lukoma’s character, Patra was too valuable to succumb to the musical chairs that saw one actor after another leave the show. The Hostel remains one of the most watched TV shows in East Africa.
The singing duo HB Toxic, her most recent foray back into music has been on hold for awhile now. She cites this saying, “Since January this year, HB Toxic has been inactive. We had irreconcilable differences and we realized we needed to work separately.” So for now, she will be concentrating on her acting career.
One wonders what The Hostel would be like if Lukoma had not been cast. It was like this young woman who had been left in the cinders for so long had found her glass slipper at last and nothing was going to keep her in her ashy prison any longer.
Interested in finding out more? Follow her on Twitter: (@hellenlukoma) or find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hellen.lukoma.7