Celeste O’Connor is truly a presence that lives between two worlds. On one side you have the Kenya born phenom who studies medicine at Johns Hopkins and is interested in international food security and public health. On the other hand you have a young actor who is proving they have the emotional resonance to take on several roles, from Paloma Davis in Selah and the Spades to the mononymed Lucky in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. O’Connor is on their way to becoming a star and they plan to change the industry along the way.
Ghostbusters is an interesting franchise. Steeped in nostalgia, the very idea of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call – a female leading remake in 2016 – sent fanboys into a misogynistic tizzy. Doing anything to the property seemed to be nearly sacrilegious for those who held the movies dear. When discussions began for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, many wondered if it would fall prey to the same type of criticisms. Would it be too “woke”? Would it be too antiquated?
Under the direction of Jason Reitman (the son of original Ghostbusters director, Ivan Reitman), Afterlife manages to infuse more diversity into the script and still make it female-leading with touching connections and tribute to the original team. In my opinion, the 2016 version got a raw deal, but it appears Afterlife is ready to take back up the mantle and infuse diversity into the cast.
O’Connor plays Lucky, a teenager who works at the local roller diner called Spinners. Along with Hollywood’s future stars like Finn Wolfhard and McKenna Grace, O’Connor is carving out a place for themselves and leaving the path open for diverse inclusion and representation.
O’Connor remembers being scared of the original Ghostbusters films when their father showed them. After getting the part they rewatched the original films and then rewatched them again in May with their friends. They had a lot of fun. It’s an interesting cast full of young “ones to watch”. O’Connor fits right in as films like Selah and the Spades and the upcoming The In Between have helped them carve a niche for young actors on the rise. O’Connor wants to use their platform to advocate for diversity and inclusion.
“Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is that we’re seeing more Black actors on screen than in the past. I think that’s great, you know, I love having jobs. But at the same time, I think there’s a real need for representation behind the screen as well. I think it’s really important we have Black producers and directors and writers as well. We’re the ones who are going to write and tell our own stories.” O’Connor is thankful their first film was Selah and the Spades.
“That was the beautiful thing about working with Tayarisha [Poe] because I got to see a Black woman in that kind of position of power. She wrote the story and she directed it. I think that’s something I want to advocate for as well.”
O’Connor was born in Kenya and after moving to the United States, attended a prestigious preparatory school and is now studying at Johns Hopkins. And somewhere along this path, O’Connor decided they wanted to be an actor. It makes you wonder what prompted their journey?
“I think it was my openness and listening to my intuition – going after what I wanted, even as a young person. I love school and I love the sciences. I love learning and I thrive in most structured environments. At the same time, I am very deeply creative and I’ve always been a performer even from a young age.” O’Connor stresses that it’s hard to be definitive about what you want to do at any age, much less a teenager or when you’re in your early 20s. “I wanted to pursue both of those paths and be really open to exploring all of the different kinds of things I’m interested in. I have really found a lot of joy from acting and being in this creative world. I want to continue that journey.”
While on the journey, O’Connor will continue to stay busy. They are graduating this May and will also appear in Zach Braff’s new movie, A Good Person alongside Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman.
“It was incredible filming. It was a master class, I was just in class and I loved it!” O’Connor says of their time on set. There are lessons they’ll certainly take to heart as they go on to dazzle in exciting roles.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will be available on Blu-ray beginning February 1st.
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