Malube Uhindu-Gingala talks about FIVE DAYS AT THE MEMORIAL and plays Tarika Hill

Malube Uhindu-Gingala knew from a young age that she wanted to perform when she watched films with her parents. Years later, in which Malube has amassed significant body of work, including roles on HBO Max TitansNetflix buffed and Hulus The story of the maid.

Now Malube can be seen alongside Vera Farmiga on Apple TV Plus Five Days Memorial, a compelling miniseries that illustrates the difficulties a New Orleans hospital faces after Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. Malube’s character Tarika Hill is a nurse who helps doctors treat their patients.

I had the privilege of speaking to Malube about Tarika’s portrayal in Five Days Memorialwhat audiences can expect, their origin story, what’s on the horizon, and more.

This interview is condensed for length and clarity.

Melody McCune: At GGA, we love a good origin story. What is the origin story of Malube Uhindu-Gingala?

Malube Uhindu-Gingala: I was born in Montreal. My name comes from my grandmother’s name. Before I was born, my parents said, “Okay, how can we give her an African name that means something?” They give my grandmother’s name, my maternal grandmother’s name, and my father’s, who is my paternal grandmother’s name is. They took a few letters from each name and made it Malube.

MM: Oh, that’s beautiful.

CUPS: I love telling this story because it’s like the legacy lives on through my name. It will always be there and I have a piece of each. I moved to Toronto as a kid. Even before that, my parents were very enthusiastic about films.

We watched movies together so many times. I remember watching Waiting for the exhale. I remember Angela Bassett was Bernadine. Her husband tells her that after 11 years he is leaving her for another woman. In this scene she monologues about how her marriage was destroyed and she was never happy and sacrificed everything for this marriage.

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I felt her pain even though I was a child. I knew then that this was a real job she was doing. Her feeling this way made me feel this way. I wanted to do that.

MM: Let’s talk about it Five Days Memorial. Can you tell me what it is about and how you came to the project?

CUPS: It’s based on a true story, and it’s also based on the book Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Devastated Hospital by Sheri Fink. It is a horrifying account of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on Memorial Hospital in New Orleans in 2005. In this series, we get a glimpse into life around Memorial and how they are coping with this tragedy during the first five days of the hurricane.

Pictured: Malube Uhindu-Gingala

I play Tarika Hill and she is a dedicated nurse at Memorial Hospital. When I got that audition last year, I auditioned for two other things. This audition was live, whereas most of my auditions back then were self-recordings. I read the script and I said, “I have to do this because it’s so cool.”

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I said yes to the appointment and practiced it as much as possible. I showed up and did it; then I let it run for about a month and a half. I forgot it. I was living my life and saw that I missed a call from my agent. I called her back and she said, “You booked Tarika Hill,” and I said, “Tarika Hill?”

I was so happy. I cried. You audition for so many things, so I’ve learned not to let my heart drop, do my best and keep going. I called my mother first and then my acting coach.

MM: It’s so hard when you really want it. It takes a lot of discipline to let it go and leave it to the universe and go about your life. I don’t know if I could.

CUPS: It takes practice. It’s like giving up. One thing I’ve done a lot during this time and I still do is pray a lot. It’s something I do every day. Surrendering helps me because I’m already acknowledging, “I have this.” Whatever is meant to be will come to me.

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MM: How did you find the right headspace for such a risky, life-or-death situation?

CUPS: I did a lot of research. I tried to remember what I was doing when it happened. To be honest I think I played and hung out with friends because I was so young. When I got the role, I ordered the book. The book is such a great guide. It has pictures and references. There are many sources and interviews Sherri Fink did about Memorial Hospital.

That was the first part of it. When I got there it was a whole different ball game because we were in our gowns, had our props, we were on set and the set really got me. It took me to a different place.

MM: Describe the show in four words.

CUPS: Revealing. Committed. Surprised. Captivating.

MM: What can audiences expect from this miniseries?

CUPS: I know what to expect from it because I was there. I know I will be sad because what happened is inevitable. I know I’m being drawn into this story because I know the story. I know it was shot well and I’ll take a quick look at what [the characters are] feeling their inner journey. Storytelling can evoke so many feelings in a person.

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The audience expects an explanation of Hurricane Katrina and what happened at the hospital. I think making it a limited series was a great idea because when I look at the news that doesn’t necessarily involve me or anyone close to me, I’ll be sad, but then I’ll move on.

Professional photograph of actress Malube Uhindu-Gingala wearing a black sweater and posing against a dark gray background.

Pictured: Malube Uhindu-Gingala

MM: I do that too.

CUPS: Exactly. This is what we do. But this time we can invest in the story, the characters and their reaction to the tragedy.

MM: Do you have a highlight or favorite moment from filming the series?

CUPS: We silently filmed this scene on camera. Some hospital staff and I saw something happening in the city and we reacted differently to what was happening. John Ridley, who directed this episode, showed us the scene in playback and every different facial expression we had. I say, “That’s why I love movies.” There are so many stories and interpretations playing out on our faces. That was one of my favorite moments.

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MM: What is still on the horizon professionally?

CUPS: I have a movie called Lifetime that came out in June Caught with my husband. I play Mary Ann, the leading lady’s best friend and support. I also have a Christmas movie coming out. It’s a lot easier than Five Days Memorial.

MM: It’s kind of a palate cleanser.

CUPS: Exactly. I love these movies because they find so much hope throughout the season. It’s a different ball game. So, that’s what I’m about to do.

MM: What are you watching?

CUPS: College Girls Sex Life. It is so good. I watch it because it’s a comedy and I feel into the girls. They are 18 and in college while experiencing things for the first time. I’m also binge watching 9-1-1 with Angela Bassett. It is wonderful. That Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Trailer inspired me to watch 9-1-1.

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MM: Oh, that trailer broke me.

CUPS: I won’t make it out of the theater in one play.

MM: I don’t think anyone will. Thank you for talking to me, Malube! Congratulations on that Five Days Memorial!

CUPS: Thanks Melody!

Follow Malube on Instagram (@malubeug) and Twitter (@MalubeUG). Be sure to tune in to Apple TV Plus every Friday to catch new episodes of Five Days Memorial.

About Cindy Johnson

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