Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Film Role Suggests Acting Was Right Move; Episcopal Grad's Decision to Pursue Her Passion Leads to 'Hunger Games'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Film Role Suggests Acting Was Right Move; Episcopal Grad's Decision to Pursue Her Passion Leads to 'Hunger Games'

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony DeFeo

Raiko Bowman is nothing if not versatile, having acted in everything from car commercials to post-apocalyptic action flicks.

In just a few years, the actress and former Jacksonville resident has moved from doing advertisements and short independent art films to having a supporting role in the blockbuster action-drama movie "The Hunger Games."

Born in Mississippi, she moved to Jacksonville with her family when she was about 6. Bowman said she knew from a very young age that wanted to be an actress.

"I saw the movie Grease at a drive-in theater and Olivia Newton-John was in it and she was my idol," said Bowman. "That was kind of the catalyst for it."

She also recalled being fascinated with television and having an appreciation for comedy in particular.

But acting was a calling Bowman tried to avoid for many years.

"I would dabble in it, but I was always running from it," she said.

Throughout her years as a student at Episcopal High School and at what was then Florida Community College at Jacksonville, acting seemed to take a back seat in her life. The dabbling continued she'd audition for, and sometimes star in, the occasional student film or local TV commercial - but Bowman couldn't shake the fear that she couldn't be successful at something she truly loved.

She recalled one inspirational experience from her time as a nursing student at FCCJ, where a patient in a hospital she was treating recognized her as the spokeswoman in a Key Hyundai commercial, a role she had for about a year and a half.

Eventually, the aspiring actress knew she had a decision to make: Could she continue running from something she viewed as her calling, or was it time to take the plunge and embrace fate?

"I'm not going to know unless I try," said Bowman. "I'm trying to turn the fear into motivation, and it does motivate me to keep taking the risk. …

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