Adeolu Adefarasin: I Left Nigeria at 13 for Boarding School in England

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• I Had a Lot of Negative Assumptions About Nollywood
• I Got Big Roles in Movies Through Unmerited Favours

A petite moustache sits delicately on the brim of his upper lip. His demeanour, a blend of sombreity and playfulness; his dress is immaculate. Privileged but unassuming, he exudes confidence that borders more on grace than taste. After discovering his passion for acting at a tender age, Adeolu Adefarasin, has not looked back. In the United  Kingdom he trained at the Arts University Bournemouth, where he honed his skills to captivate an audience – it doesn’t matter if it’s a minor role Adeolu’s playing. For two years, he was an actor in London and earned rave reviews for his performances in ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Silent Shakespeare’ before moving to the United States. While in the
US, Adeolu spent his first year training at the prestigious New York Film Academy – from that point, he was ready to make the transition from stage to light, camera and action. He stood out, earning himself a lead role in the academy’s end-of-year performance of ‘The Lady and The Tiger’. After graduating, he landed roles in multiples off-Broadway productions. Back home in Nigeria, Adeolu has featured in EbonyLife’s highly anticipated ‘The Wedding Party’ starring Adesua Etomi and Banky W, as well as roles in popular series, ‘Skinny Girl in Transit’ and ‘Gidi Up’. What else can be known about the clergyman’s son? Find out in this interview Azuka Ogujiuba

Who is Adeolu Adefarasin?

Iam the youngest of three children and depending on where and when you meet me, you could think of me as either extremely talkative or incredibly shy. I like to think I am very in touch with my emotions and consider it a great strength when trying to access the truth of a character. When I’m excited or passionate about something, you’ll have a hard time shutting me up. I always say my personality and my chosen career don’t see eye to eye. I love the art in itself but struggle with the social aspect of it; I’d sooner lay in bed watching a movie or a TV show than go out socialising. I always express myself in artistic forms. One of my favourite pastimes is writing, like short stories. Often, I express my deeper emotions in spoken words too. On a lighter note, I love football. I’m a Chelsea fan and that sums me up in a nutshell.

Have you always been into acting and film-making?
I’ve been acting for a very long time but not always. I first discovered my passion for it when I moved to boarding school in England. I was 13 and I had to pick an extra subject between Drama and Home Economics. My initial reaction was ‘well, I don’t want to cook’.
So, I chose Drama and from there I fell in love with it. I involved myself in it at every opportunity that I could. I can’t really pinpoint where my passion for film and film-making grew. But I think that it developed with time as I became more incensed by the moral values the film industry was and is promoting. Since then, I’ve become driven to have a deeper involvement in the stories being told and the values being instilled.

Would you consider yourself more of an actor or a film-maker?

I think at the heart of it, I am more an actor than a film-maker because I trained primarily as an actor. I got into film-making because I’m passionate about telling good stories and telling them well. But ultimately, acting is my true love. I was always quite shy and still can be. So, acting served as an escape and gave me a place
to act in ways I wouldn’t ordinarily (behave).

What was your first big break?
It depends on what you consider a ‘break.’ For me, it came in the form of validation that I am good at what I do – which happened when I got into the British National Youth Theatre at the age of 17. And then again, when I was in a small about off-West End original production of ‘Silent Shakespeare’ and got great personal reviews of my performances.

You’re from a prominent Christian family in Nigeria. Does your family
support your choice of career?You hear a lot of stories of Nigerian parents looking down on the arts or not letting their children pursue such career. But my parents have always been supportive and made sacrifices for me to have the best opportunity I can pursuing the arts. I come from a prominent Christian family and I am incredibly thankful for that, now more than ever before. I believe I have a calling to use the entertainment industry as a vessel to effect positive change and instil Godly values (in others).

How has it been for you moving back to Nigeria?
Moving back to Nigeria was at first a shock to my system. But after a while, this has been a refreshing year for me both personally and career-wise. Personally, it has helped me grow faster than expected.
My relationship with God has increased incredibly and it has added a focus and drive that I’d struggled with previously. In terms of my career, I see such opportunities for greatness in the entertainment industry here and so many people working to take us to a new level.
That is something I’m passionate about being involved in.

You have a solid background in theatre and acting while abroad; should Nigerians expect you to do same in Nigeria?
I was primarily trained in theatre and personally prefer it to camera work. I would definitely love to get on stage here sometime in the near future.

Tell us how you landed a part in one of the year’s most anticipated
films ‘The Wedding Party’.
Honestly, it was favour. I had the opportunity of being in touch with one of the producers involved and was called in to audition for a different role. While there, they saw the potential to make more of the character of Kevin (the character I played). It was a great
opportunity to land that part almost immediately after getting back to Nigeria and to find myself on the set of such a major production. It was fast paced and brilliantly done. I only shot for a day but was taken aback by the way Kemi Adetiba works. She multitasks. She gives you all the attention you need to get the most out of you.

How did you get the ‘Skinny Girl in Transit’ role?
It was through unmerited favour. I was put in touch with Abimbola Craig through her mother. I procrastinated in reaching out (to Craig).
But I eventually did. I sent in my acting reel and they liked my stuff. They called me in for a meeting and we really hit it off. Since then, Bimbo and NdaniTV have been an absolute blessing. She is amazing to work.

How much alike are you to your character in Ndani TV’s ‘Skinny Girl in Transit’?
My character’s name is Nathan. He is a soft-spoken; I would say a gentleman. I think on the surface we have a lot of similarities. But he also has a side to him I like to believe I don’t share. I won’t reveal too much. You can watch and make your own judgments.

What is one thing you want the world to know about Nigeria’s entertainment industry – Nollywood?
There’s an incredibly bright future. I would be honest: coming home, I
had a lot of negative assumptions that had been squashed. I’ve met a
lot of smart industry professionals with a lot of know-how and passion
for Nollywood. Yes, there is a long way to go; but we have great
stories to tell in Nigeria and even better storytellers to tell them.

What are the next steps for you?
Well, I recently finished ‘Season 3 of Gidi Up’. I cannot wait to see audience’s reception to it. I am also currently in the long, but thrilling, process of producing my first film; a film I believe really captivates so much of Nigeria and has such a strong story that if told
well, could be loved globally and that is what we are hoping to do.