Umali’s stellar acting career | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Umali’s stellar acting career

26 February, 2023

Versatile and talented actress, Umali Thilakaratne won the Best Actress Award 2021 at the Sumathi Tele Awards recently. This was for her portrayal of Thilaka in the tele drama ‘Sakarma’ directed by Priyantha Fernando.

This was the second Sumathi Best Actress Award for Umali and also her fourth Best Actress Award in the industry.

For someone who never dreamt of being an actress at first this is indeed a meteoric career which has kept her as a top ranker among Sri Lankan actresses.

Not only is Umali an actress, she is also a dancer, a singer and lyricist.

As she is not one to rest on her laurels Umali has now broken new ground by opening a production house, the U factor.

Irudini Umali Thilakaratne was born as the elder child of G.L. and Disna Tillekaratne on March 16, 1987. She has a younger brother.

Blossoming talents

Umali’s talent for acting, dancing and singing blossomed early and during her early schooling at President’s College and later at Musaeus College they were well recognised by her teachers and peers.

A great impetus to her career in arts occurred when her father took young Umali to Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa to get a song composed for her. Khemadasa Master told the young girl that a song is not merely a song, but that a whole range of arts such as dance and drama were linked to it. His words made such an impression on the young girl that Umali joined the Khemadasa Foundation and trained with Dr. Khemadasa for several years and also taking part in his opera Agni.

Rosa Wasanthaye

It was while Umali was still a school girl that Umali was scouted for a supporting role in Udayakantha Warnasuriya’s ‘Rosa Wasanthaye’. She played the role of the leading actress’s sister but her presence was felt throughout the movie. This was followed by a role in Mother Theresa of Calcutta where Umali played the role of a disciple of the nun.

Her parents did not allow her to act in movies for a while after this and Umali concentrated on her studies doing both local and London O/levels in the bio stream.


Deeply interested in psychology from a young age Umali dreamt of being a clinical psychologist. After schooling Umali entered an Indian College to pursue her studies in Psychology. According to her, this college ranked as the second best globally being second only to one in Russia.

After spending several semesters here Umali returned to Sri Lanka to fulfill commitments here.

As a schoolgirl Umali had also pursued studies in the Japanese Language and she then winged her way to the Land of the Rising Sun to continue her studies in the Japanese Language.

Umali was an undergraduate at the Ninon University in Tokyo when she successfully passed an audition for a major Japanese film ‘The Final Judgement’. She played the role of a girl named Lin. The movie was based on the concept that hatred does not end hatred and it was directed by a Japanese. Umali thus became the first Sri Lankan to play a major role in a Japanese production.

Umali’s latest achievement was as said earlier was winning the Best Actress Award for her role in Sakarma at the last Sumathi Tele Awards. She played the role of Thilaka, a stubborn and willful village girl who elopes with her boy friend but does not find the life she dreamt of with him. Though a complex and difficult role Umali did justice to the role. So much so that she has received a nomination for the Best Actress for the same role at the upcoming Raigam Tele Awards.


In 2016, Umali Thiakarathne had the distinction of achieving a hat-trick for her portrayal of Nuri, a girl with severe mental trauma in ‘Bohemiyanuwa’ directed by Jayaprakash Sivagurunathan. For this drama telecast in 2015, Umali won the Best Actress Award at both the Sumathi and Raigam Tele Awards in 2016. She also won the OCIC’s Signis Award for this role also in 2016.


Umali’s introduction to the world of tele drama was through ‘Arungal’ which in itself was a unique experience, says Umali.

This charismatic actress has many movies to her credit and of these Asai man piyabanna is of special significance. Playing in the movie with Puja Uma Shankar, Umali learnt much from her. Even the way she carried herself was amazing, she said.

Creations in which Umali has starred include ‘Sakarma’, ‘Rosa Wasanthaye’, ‘Maharaja Gemunu’, ‘Asai Man Piyabanna’, ‘Equals’, ‘Heena Hoya Samanallu’ and ‘Thanapthilage Gedera’.

Being a keen student of psychology has indeed helped Umali in her acting. Asked as to how she prepares for a role Umali said that knowing the psychology of the character helps her to give life to it and that while shooting is on she is totally immersed in that character. When the shooting ends she relaxes and weans herself away from the character.

Stage drama

Talking about stage dramas, a field she has now entered, Umali says that it is very different to acting for the camera. On stage even if you make a mistake you can pick up again and move on. But in cinema everything gets recorded and if even two or three takes have to be done the essence of the moment can be affected.

Umali’s maiden ventures into stage drama are in two Ajitha Dissanayake productions, ‘Nethuwama Bari Minihek’ (A much needed man) and 2019 ‘Juli Masaye Dawask’ (A day in July 2019).

Umali says she is an introvert who needs and values her private space. Music is a form of relaxation for her as is dance. Though she describes herself as an introvert this versatile young woman is an extremely intelligent and articulate conversationalist it is a pleasure to talk to.

Her abiding desire to help people makes her delve into her other love psychology and she has completed her degree and is now into post graduate work. She has now broken fresh ground by venturing into the fields of early childhood education and development.

Umali dreams of the day she will see true professionalism in the local movie industry.

She has many plans for the future including release of some of her own songs.