An accomplished dancer who has spread her talents into acting and singing, Nigerian-born Femi Taylor is best known to Star Wars fans world-wide as doomed dancer Oola in “Return of the Jedi.” Femi began her career after being accepted at the prestigious London School of Contemporary Dance. Intending to complete the full three-year course, she was tempted to be truant one Tuesday afternoon– sneaking away to audition for the American smash-hit musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” playing in London’s famed West End. Offered a contract for the musical, she accepted.
After completing the eighteen-month performance contract, Femi went to Germany for three months with producers Golan Globus, as a featured dancer in the film “The Apple.” Femi then saved up and went to the United States to finish her training at The Alvin Ailey School, often cited as one of the best dance schools in New York.
After returning to London, Femi continued to do more theatre and television work. Then, in 1981, her agent called and informed her that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn were looking for a black girl to be in the original cast for the show “Cats.”
During that year’s contract with Cats, Femi was also called to audition a role for George Lucas in the third Star Wars film “Return of the Jedi.” Femi won the role of Oola, the doomed dancing girl of Jabba the Hutt. She spent her days filming “Jedi” and evenings performing in “Cats.”
In 1983, Femi performed at Chichester Theatre in a play called “Valmouth” with the role Niri-Esther. She then spent the next four years performing at the Leeds Playhouse with director Nicholas Hytner, moving on to “Little Shop of Horrors” with the English Theatre company in Frankfurt, Germany, and finally taking a turn in“The Wiz” at Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.
Femi was invited to perform with the show “Cats” again during 1987 in Sydney and Melbourne, taking the same role that she performed in London. Femi enjoyed her time in Australia, that she lived there for a further six years where she had roles in two films: “Flirting,” (starring a then-unknown actress named Nicole Kidman), and “A Kink in the Picasso.” Femi also performed on an Australian and New Zealand tour of the London smash hit “Buddy”, did numerous television appearances, taught dance and also had her own band.
In 1996, Femi received a personal phone call from Lucasfilm, asking her if she would fly to San Francisco. George Lucas intended to film and add more to the part of Oola for the Special Edition re-release of “Return of the Jedi” which she had done sixteen years previous. Femi holds the unique honor of being the only actress from the Star Wars saga to be invited back — she even fit in the same costume!
The popularity of the Star Wars films and their continued “cult-status” has allowed Femi to to become one of the “cult” stars in the film industry. The portrayal of Oola has not only given everlasting status to the character, but to the actress, too. Star Wars indeed “runs in the family,” as her brother Benedict portrayed a Naboo fighter pilot in “The Phantom Menace.”
Femi’s other films include, “Top Secret,” “Ragtime” and the role of Mazie in the British film “Playing Away.” Some of her British television credits include “The Bill,” “Desmonds,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday at the Albert Hall, and the award-winning TV Drama “Drums Along Balmoral Drive.”
Femi has traveled extensively around the world, including visits to Japan and Korea with the Royal Opera Company’s production of Samson and Delila.
Femi last appeared in the West End in 1998/99 for the production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Lyceum Theatre.
For the last 20 years Femi has been invited to Sci-fi conventions all over the world and she is always a very popular guest among the fans.
Femi has two grown up boys and lives in Denmark with her Danish husband.