Based on actual events and adapted from the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial chronicles the impact of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on a local hospital. When the floodwaters rose, power failed and heat soared, exhausted caregivers at a New Orleans hospital were forced to make decisions that would follow them for years to come.
I had the opportunity to chat with Malube Uhindu-Gingala who is currently recurring as Tarika Hill in the new medical drama series streaming now on AppleTV+.
Kat: You portray nurse Tarika Hill in “Five Days At Memorial” now streaming on AppleTV+. How did you prepare for your role?
Malube: As soon as I heard that I booked the role of Tarika Hill, I dived deep into research. I ordered the book ‘Five Days at Memorial’ by Sheri Fink, started reading and was immediately taken by the circumstances of this tragic event. There were a lot of details that I was unaware of, prior to working on this television show. Being on ‘Five Days at Memorial,’ gave me the opportunity to form my own opinion about the effects of Hurricane Katrina, as well as take part in the story-telling as authentically as possible.
Kat: Did you find any commonalities between yourself and Tarika?
Malube: Tarika and I are both passionate about the work that we do. Tarika lives and breathes her devotion to nursing and this is how I feel about my ever evolving craft.
Kat: Was there anything about your role that was particularly challenging?
Malube: While I was doing my research, I remember thinking…well how is this all going to work? How is this all going to come together? Especially knowing the story and knowing that, like most television shows, the scenes and episodes are not being shot chronologically…how will I remain in the present moment of each scene when I, as the actor, already know what’s going to happen? How do I stay open and available? Being on location really helped me stay grounded in the circumstances. Also, I had the marvelous opportunity to work with John Ridley and Carlton Cuse, so I put my trust in their vision.
Kat: What have been some of your favorite scenes to shoot and why?
Malube: ALL! Each scene had its moments where I was completely taken by the work of my peers and when I was completely swept up by the story; playing moment-to-moment. One scene that stuck out to me in particular was shot for Episode 04; John Ridley directed that episode, and it was when most of the Black hospital staff were listening to the crimes happening by the police, outside of the hospital. John was able to capture the nuances of everyone’s reaction to what was happening in the pan shot. It was incredible to witness and be a part of, despite being a difficult story to tell.
Kat: What do you hope fans take away from your character and/or this season of the show?
Malube: What I love about Tarika is her tenacity to do whatever it takes, even in the worst of circumstances. She’s taught me so much; especially to look for the light in the dark places. I will always have a piece of her with me. Because our series is based on true events, fans will come away from it with mixed feelings, and that’s okay. Some refer to Hurricane Katrina as a “historical event,” but the truth is, there are those who are still dealing with the ramifications of this disaster, today. That’s important to remember, that it’s still very much present in some people’s lives. I hope that fans come away knowing that there are a lot of grey areas in storytelling. Also, that there’s no “one way” to feel. It’s alright to feel sad on one day, and angry on another day. Or to feel things simultaneously.
Kat: Is there a type of character that you’d like to portray, that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Malube: I am READY, so ready to play the villain now on a television series; the most unassuming villain you could ever know. So God? I put it out there so you know what to do!!
Kat: What’s next?
Malube: It’s been such a fruitful and busy time, so all forms of self care are welcome and embraced! Definitely taking in the last moments of summer and making them sweet as Autumn graces us with her presence. I have a film coming out during the Christmas Holidays and a wonderful part in a web series that’s so dear to my heart. I look forward to sharing the rest of my upcoming projects once more information becomes available.
Keep up with me on Instagram: @malubeug