An actor-turned-doctor who worked opposite Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya early in his career has recalled noticing the “magnetic” talent that later propelled him to global fame.
Dr Nadia Kamil was friendly with Kaluuya for a number of years after working with him on the broadcast pilot of Happy Finish, a cancelled 2010 sketch show for Channel 4.
In a symbol of their differing paths since, the Welsh-Iraqi comedian finished her training to become a doctor at King’s Mill Hospital in Nottingham just days before Kaluuya collected his best supporting actor prize in Los Angeles.
Dr Kamil, 36, told the PA news agency: “I’m just so proud of him and pleased because I think he deserves it… I feel lucky that I’ve got to work with him and got to know him.
“He’s really matured so much since (Happy Finish) but the main thing that he had then is just this instant ability to focus.
“As soon as it was ‘cameras rolling – action’, he was able to just be magnetic on camera.
“He’s just refined so much into this real gentleman who’s really at the top of his game and exquisite in his talent.”
Dr Kamil, originally from Swansea, once moved to LA before deciding a job in showbusiness was not for her, opting instead to train as a doctor while still pursuing stand-up shows as a hobby.
“I was feeling pretty elated last week, because I’ve passed my final exams, so I’m officially a doctor now,” she said.
“And then on Sunday night, Daniel gets an Oscar – I was like ‘well, well done you’.
“When you see people doing supremely well – and really there is no level higher than an Oscar – you think ‘maybe that could have been me’.
“But, you know, how many of them did a newborn examination where they had to have a neonate wee on them yesterday?”
At university, Dr Kamil also starred in a play with Eddie Redmayne, who won the best actor Oscar for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything in 2015.
She first met Kaluuya through a friend, comedian Jose Long, who worked with him on the Channel 4 series Skins – on which Kaluuya played Posh Kenneth.
“Then I sort of followed his career, and we hung out a few times after (Happy Finish)… he always struck me as really dedicated and professional,” she said.
“The thing I found most impressive about him is that he sued the Met Police… which I think is incredible.”
In 2013 Kaluuya sued the force after he was wrongly suspected of being a drug dealer and arrested in 2011.
“For him to have the confidence and the belief to do that, knowing that’s a really tough thing for a young black guy from London,” said Dr Kamil.
“I’ve got so much respect for him as a person and as a human being… he’s just a really smart level-headed guy – and he really loves his mum, I remember that.”
Happy Finish was not picked up for a full series despite a cast that also included Taskmaster comedian Mike Wozniak, stand-up Sara Pascoe, and Nico Tatarowicz – whose writing works include The Armstrong and Miller Show.
Dr Kamil praised the talents of the “brilliant” team at Happy Finish, produced by Hat Trick Productions, adding: “They just didn’t pick it up for a series.
“I think the official reason is that they’re idiots – because it was a really fun show.”