Category Archives: Star Profile

TOM HARDY – MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS?

Profile by Graeme Wood
24.05.15

 

 

Tom-Hardy

Those critics and doubters amongst us who had written off a revival of George Millers 1979 cult hit ‘MAD MAX’ have been surprised and taken aback by the movie’s critical and box office success. ‘Mad Max-Fury Road’ opened to rave reviews and has already scored a worldwide $135,185,000 box office gross, there is already talk of sequels rather than a sequel and the film’s lead Tom Hardy has now had his superstar status all but confirmed.

Hardy was initially concerned about taking on the role from the original trilogy’s star Mel Gibson but director Miller felt; “Both those guys have that same animal-like quality. They’re warm and accessible and loveable, but there’s something dangerous about them. No matter how still they are, there’s something powerful going on behind the eyes – like a tiger that can claw you to death”.
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Dangerous is certainly what the film’s co-star Charlize Theron felt about Hardy, reportedly she found him ‘weird’ and ‘scary, feeling so threatened by the actor that she asked to be kept away from him when not shooting scenes together, this fuelled reports of a feud between the two actors. When asked about this Hardy replied; “I think she’s fucking awesome. I think she’s incredible. I think she’s one of the most talented actresses of our generation…. but it’s very interesting, the concept of what danger is, and this has nothing to do with Charlize Theron or Mad Max, actually, but this has to do with life in general. There is a flicker of energy that can come from certain people, whether it’s fear-based or whether it’s contrived, which can unsettle a room. And if somebody mismanages that, or if a trickster is in the driving seat of that particular asset and has no business being in said room, well…but I am no more a threat than a puppy.”

Hardy had become a genuine screen presence in the last decade and had many labels thrown at him – method actor, sex symbol, chameleon, hard man, best actor of his generation and yes dangerous – anything but boring! Born in 1977 and hailing from London’s Hammersmith area Hardy was the only child of the Cambridge educated writer Edward ‘Chips’ Hardy and artist Mother Anne, he grew up in East Sheen and was expelled from Reeds public school (for stealing), he was arrested for joyriding in a stolen Mercedes while in possession of a gun when he was 15, and soon after became an alcoholic and drug addict. At the age of 19 he entered and won C4’s Big Breakfast ‘Fine Me A Supermodel’ competition and briefly had a contract with Models 1. “I grew up around people carriers and cardigans and the deer in Richmond Park, but behind those Laura Ashley curtains there are a lot of demons. East Sheen is a middle-class area, Trumpton or Seasame Street, but there’s trouble if you want it. I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack. I was a shameful suburban statistic”.

Hardy studied at the Drama Centre in central London where he was expelled for being, he’s said “a little shit”, his first on-screen role was in the award-winning HBO/BBC miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ and he showed promise in his feature film debut in Ridley Scott’s 2001 war thriller ‘Black Hawk Down’ quickly followed by a starring role in ‘Star Trek-Nemesis’. In 2003 he picked up the London Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performances in “Blood” and “In Arabia We’d All Be Kings”. However, his drug addiction got the better of him and he collapsed in Soho’s Old Compton Street after a crack binge and was admitted into rehab. “I was a very adrenal kid”, he says, “I ran on my feelings, and there was a lot of fear. When I found drinking at 13 – a bit of beer – I felt calm. I thought this must be how everyone else feels, and I wanted more of it”.

He told one interviewer he doesn’t mind taking about his addictions because it’s part of his story and he’s sensible enough to be grateful for how his life has turned out. “People don’t know me yet, so I know they want to hear this stuff. They can hear it once, and then let’s talk about something else. I’ll be done with it. When I’m 40 I’ll be cantankerous and badgery about it. When I’m 50 I’ll slap young interviewers and swear. When I’m 70 I’ll be incorrigible!”

More notable television roles followed with the mini-series Colditz, Sweeney Todd (with Ray Winstone), The Virgin Queen (with Anne-Marie Duff) and Cape Wrath (with DavidMorrisey). In 2007 he starred in the BBC drama, “Stuart, A Life Backwards” and found himself nominated for a BAFTA Best Actor award. Based on the life of Stuart Shorter a homeless man, who suffered from muscular dystrophy and a drug addiction and who had been subjected to years of abuse. The role required something of a physical transformation and it was to become a trademark of Hardy’s “Character transformations started happening to me because I got tired of not being able to get on the floor. There are two types of acting; there’s convincing acting and not convincing. That’s it, right. And so, if you are going to convince people, then put it in the real world”. In 2009 he gained 2½ stone in order to play Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Charles Bronson for the film ‘Bronson’ he had already gained a reputation for being seen as difficult by some but was hailed as a method actor and a chameleon.

On television he went on to star in Martina Cole’s drug and gangsters thriller ‘The Take’ for Sky One and as the doomed romantic hero Heathcliff in ITV’s “Wuthering Heights” it was here he met his wife to be actress Charlotte Riley, who played the role of Cathy in the drama. 2010 saw Hardy being directed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Long Red Road” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Hardy was amongst the first to pay homage to Hoffman following his death; “I loved Phil he was my North Star of standards – he was brilliant – funny and full of wisdom and eccentricities and love – he nurtured talent and believed in team. I felt he believed in me in a way that few have ever and took the time and effort to show me the road”.

Director Christopher Nolan then cast Hardy in his thriller ‘Inception’ for which he won a BAFTA Rising Star award. Hardy replaced Michael Fassbender in the 2011 adaptation of “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy”, and then learnt to cage fight for his next role in ‘Warrior’ for which he found more critical Bane_TomHardyacclaim. He was then cast by Nolan again as Bane in his final Batman film 2012’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Nolan touched on Hardy’s performance in interviews; “He can inhabit a role. He saw the potential of the character right away and brought a wonderful cheeky quality to his performance”
Earlier this year in Steven Knight’s thriller “Locke” Hardy spent the film’s 90 harrowing minutes on-screen as the film’s only visible character talking on phone via Bluetooth in his car. It’s a mesmerising tour-de-force. Hardy also returned to television in the second series of the BBC’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ playing Camden gangster Alfie Solomons with humour and swaggering menace – an uneasy ally for Cillian Murphy’s Brummie hood Tommy Shelby.

Super-hero movies were bound to come calling and Hardy was cast a Rick Flagg in DC’s upcoming “Suicide Squad” movie however, soon after Hardy left the project citing ‘scheduling difficulties’ though it’s been reported that having seen the script he was unhappy that his screen time had been shortened following the roles of Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Lento being filled out and given more screen time. He has since said that he’s still in talks with DC about ‘something awesome’.

Following the success of “Mad Max-Fury Road” Hardy says he’s ‘looking forward’ to working on the follow-ups and he can next be seen on the big screen in October in ‘Legends’, starring alongside Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston and Tara Fitzgerald. Hardy plays both of the legendary real-life gangster twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Written and Directed by LA Confidential LEGEND-Tom-Hardyscreenwriter Brian Helgeland, the film tells the story of the brother’s rise and reign over 1960’s gangland London.

Hardy will also be seen in “The Revenant” directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, starring alongside Leo DiCaprio. Next year he will back on TV in the Ridley Scott produced period drama ‘Taboo’ written by Steven Knight. Hardy stars as adventurer James Keziah Delaney who sets out to build his own shipping empire in the early 1800s. The idea for the drama came from Hardy and his father who took the story to Knight and Scott.

As Hardy himself told Esquire magazine; “I hope you’ll find I’m a reliable team player. But you have to be as open and honest about it as I am, because you will be fucking judged, as I’ve been. But let’s have some fun! Some people will hate you, some people will like you, but then most people are completely indifferent about the fuck of my ideas and why the fuck he’s even being talked to.”

Tom-Hardy2

David Oyelewo Undoubted Shining Star

By Leslie Byron Pitt
Written: 04.03.15

 

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In the last five years, the likes of Idris Elba (Thor), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) have called attention to the wealth of black British actors making strong waves within the Hollywood system. 2014 helped continue the trend, with films such as Interstellar, A Most Violent Year and Selma highlighting the remarkable talents of David Oyelowo.

Oyelowo was born in Oxford, 1976 to Nigerian parents who both worked within the transport sector. At age 6, Oyelowo relocated to Nigeria and during his time there; Oyelowo discovered that his family was of royal lineage. He returned to England seven years later. Quoted in his BBC bio for Spy drama Spooks, it was during his Theatre Studies A-levels at City and Islington College, in which Oyelowo was inspired by a teacher to continue his dramatic pursuits.

David Oyelowo started his stage career in 1999 with the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in roles for plays such as Oroonoko and Volpone. His performance as Henry VI in 2001 had him awarded with Ian Charleson Award for Best Newcomer in a Classic Play. This landmark of colour blind casting, caused controversy in some media circles. In the book The Henry VI plays (by Stuart Hampton-Reeves and Carol Chillington Rutte), Oyelowo states on remembering a Daily Telegraph article which complained such casting “opens us to ridicule”. A Mail on Sunday Piece remarks: “I’m not sure you could have a black actor playing a monarch with such a familiar face, but with Henry VI it’s fine because your average theatre goer starts with a pretty blank slate.” A hilarious remark considering the west’s history of white washing minority characters (Laurence Olivier in Othello anyone?).

It is this role of Henry, however, that not only convinced his father that David had found correct career choice, such criticisms unsurprisingly foreshadow and consolidates Oyelowo’s feelings of strong roles for black British talent. The press interviews for Selma have highlighted Oyelowo’s forthright opinions on how race in the arts is viewed. That Oyelowo made his mark with this portrayal, only highlights his considerable talents further.

David Oyelowo became more of a household name due to his stint as doomed case officer; Danny in the BBC’s praised espionage series, Spooks (2002 – 2011). Playing alongside the likes of Matthew Oyelowo_SpooksMacfadyen and Keeley Hawes, Oyelowo spent two years on the highly popular show before bowing out to pursue other projects. Oyelowo found himself in leading roles such as Matt Wellings, in the critically acclaimed drama Five Days, in which he won the 2007 award for Winner of Best Actor in a Mini Series or Motion Picture for Television, Golden Satellite Awards. In 2008 he was cast alongside British actors Colin Salmon and Idris Elba in the Anthony Minghella directed pilot of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The Botswanan set show, while award winning and enjoyed, unfortunately, never obtained a second series.

Oyelowo also starred in the 2009 television mini-series Small Island. An adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel, which focuses on the diaspora of Jamaican immigrants during and after World War II. Oyelowo was nominated for Best Actor at the BAFTA television awards in 2010, for his portrayal of the unlucky but noble Gilbert Joseph.

Despite finding minor cinematic roles in the likes of Derailed (2005) and The Last King of Scotland (2006), it was 2011 which marked out new and exciting territory for the young actor. Oyelowo was cast as the selfish antagonist, Steven Jacobs in the surprise blockbuster hit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Often recognised as more noble characters, the role of Jacobs allowed Oyelowo to not only star in one of the biggest hits of the summer, but also allowed him to expand his range in a much pulpier type of cinematic feature.

2011 also saw Oyelowo take a small role as Preacher Green, in the successful civil rights drama, The Help. In Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, Oywlowo was allowed to broaden his range further with the “physically demanding” role of 1st Lt. Joe “Lightning” Little. In an article for blackflix, Oyelowo was quick to not only comment on how proud he was being able to take a role that belongs in the history books due to the Airmen’s role in desegregation of the American Armed Forces. Oyelowo also noted on the shortage of opportunities of an all-black leading cast, being able to star in a movie, which didn’t feel like a niche feature, solely aimed at the African American audience. Hollywood mogul George Lucas financed and produced the film himself after gaining no support from the Hollywood studio system, but in the end the film didn’t set the international box office alight, however, Red Tails helped reinforce Oyelowo’s board range of talent to Hollywood.

It was in 2012 in which Oyelowo, first worked with Selma director Ava DuVernay, in the Independent drama, Middle of Nowhere. Gaining strong reviews and positive recognition at the Sundance Selma_Ava_OyelowoFestival, the film was a chance for DuVernay to work with an actor she had long been a fan of. Oyelowo’s role in Middle of Nowhere found itself sandwiched in-between releases of Lee Daniels’ Southern Gothic tale The Paperboy and Steven Spielberg’s historical biopic Lincoln. Oyelowo’s small yet poignant role in Lincoln, as Ira Clark perhaps has one of the most resonant moments of the film. In his most touching scene, the young Clark is reciting one of Lincoln’s most famous addresses, to help highlight his knowledge and admiration of the man. The scene itself is one of the film’s strongest moments.

His role as Louis Gaines in 2013’s The Butler gained Oyelowo even more recognition (NAAC image award for best supporting actor in a Motion picture), however, it was 2014 that has proved to be the one of the highest peaks of David Oyelowo’s career. The actor found him starring in a small but droll role as an ignorant school principle in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar as well as a cagey and corrupt DA in the subtly engaging A Most Violent year. Of course the crowning achievement is Oyelowo’s complex and rousing portrayal of Dr Martin Luther King in Selma. Despite his Golden Globe nomination, many found his lack of nominations to be a snub.

However Oyelowo’s cool, calm demeanour when approaching his role of King in interviews, as well as his upfront and intelligent engagement about race and talent range of black British actors, show that his words alone may provide more inspiration for young black actors, than an award. For Oyelewo we believe…. the sky’s the limit.

Chadwick Boseman Rising Star

By Leslie Byron Pitt
25.11.14

 

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Chadwick Boseman already has two iconic African-American parts under his belt and with his upcoming role as Black Panther in the upcoming Marvel features; Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, Boseman looks set to become one of his generations top African-American leading men.

The talented Boseman was born in 1977, in Anderson, South Carolina to Nurse Carolyn, and furniture businessman Leroy Boseman. A graduate of T.L Hanna High School in 1995, Boseman later graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in directing, before attending the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.

Before embarking on a television career, Boseman worked as a stage actor, performing in a number of stage productions as well as writing and directing his own work. One of his most notable stage roles is the 2002 play Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms. Written by Ron Milner, Urban Transitions is an edgy drama in which the fast and loose income from drug running, slowly inflects a newly suburban African American family. His performance earned him an award from AUDELCO, a committee which strives to stimulate interest and support in performing arts within black communities. From a writing point of view, his most notable work, was his third play, Deep Azure, a hip-hop theatre production, in which a black, anorexic woman’s fiancé is shot by a black police officer. The play, which is loosely based on an actual shooting was nominated for a Jeff Award in 2006.

It was 2003 in which Boseman gained his break on television with a variety of TV episodes, including Third Watch, ER and Law and Order. Around this time, as well as starring film shorts, Boseman made sure to keep hold of his behind the scene passions. He wrote and directed the 18 minute short Blood over a Broken Pawn (2008), which deals with a traumatized coffee shop owner stumbling into a dangerous situation with a chess master after an altercation with an innocent child.

From 2008 Boseman found himself in more prominent roles, including considerable appearances in the taut mini-series Persons Unknown, created by Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie, and Drama series Lincoln Heights, in which he plays injured Iraq War veteran, Nate. The shadow of war also followed Boseman in a leading role as a troubled veteran alongside Troy Kittles (Olympus has Fallen) in 2012’s The Kill Hole. During this time, Boseman found himself in episodes of hit shows such as Fringe, Justified and Castle.

In 2013 Boseman made the jump into movies, performing as one of Baseball’s most famous stars; Jackie Robinson, in the biographical feature 42. The film, written by Academy Award winner; Brian chadwickbosemanHelgeland became the best premiere for a Baseball film in Hollywood History with a $27.3 million opening weekend. Despite only being released theatrically in the U.S and Canada, the film grossed a total of $95 Million and surpassed its $40 Million budget. 42 has been well received by audiences and critics alike, with Boseman’s performance has the stoic, yet heroic Robinson garnered high praise. 42 gained high praise when it was endorsed by the first lady, Michelle Obama at a screening and film workshop, which Boseman also took part in, at the White House. Mrs Obama was quoted to have said that “We believe everybody needs to see this movie.” the kind of praise that many hope more black movies will achieve in the future.

In 2014 Boseman has turned that praise into Oscar Buzz with his most electrifying performance to date. Get On Up; the celebratory biopic of James Brown, has had nothing but superlatives placed on the 37 year old’s performance as Brown. John Patterson (Guardian) described the display as chadwick-boseman-as-james-brown“volcanic”, while Tim Robey (Daily Telegraph) states that the performance holds a “wicked attitude”. In my own review of the film for kushfilms.com: I considered Boseman’s poise and understanding of Brown as a persona is just too strong to ignore. It’s a performance is so powerful that you can see the cast running off the energy it creates.

In an article for the Guardian, it had been stated that there was pressure on the director; Tate Taylor, to place a rapper in the main role. Such a cynical commercial ploy was quickly nixed by Taylor, who could only see Boseman in the part, based on a hunch. Boseman himself considered the role to be too big a role for an up and coming actor, and almost dismissed it based on the fact he had just played Jackie Robinson. To find out that after accepting the role, Bosemon had only 6 weeks to learn the various moves of Brown before principal photography, only makes the performance even more impressive.

The part of Brown has generated a healthy amount of Oscar buzz for the young actor, but it’s his next role, that should help take him into the upper echelons of Hollywood’s movers and shakers. It has been recently announced in October, that Boseman has signed a five movie deal with Marvel to chadwick_boseman_black_pantplay Black Panther in his own feature film, and including a supporting role in Captain America 3: Civil War. The role marks a significant movement for the Marvel studio diversifying their movies towards other markets. Comic fans may know more about Panther than many of the laymen who paid their money to see The Avengers, but many felt the same about Ironman in 2008. Boseman has shown the ability to take a larger than life character and ran with it and the match-up could be a landmark point in the current successful comic book cycle.

The future does indeed look radiant with this handsome, young talent. Boseman’s upcoming prospects may allow him not only climb the Hollywood mountain as an actor, but possibly allow him to propose further projects with his name at the writing/directional helm. While such a statement can currently only be raised as an assumption, I must admit that the future of African American Film is sparkling a little brighter.

Aml Ameen

aml-ameenBritish turned Hollywood Actor; Aml Ameen has been making waves for years. He first came to popular attention with his explosive 2-year stint as PC LEWIS HARDY on BAFTA winning British drama “The Bill” winning him a nomination. But it was his starring performance as troubled teen Trife in the cult-classic KIDULTHOOD that lead him to both awards and critical acclaim. Screen International named him on a list of Hollywood rising stars in 2005, and The Times Newspaper as the “One to Watch” in the race to Hollywood. True to the prediction, AML, just a few years later, landed the co-starring role of MALCOLM opposite Oscar Winner Kathy Bates, in David E. Kelley drama series HARRY’S LAW and then a coveted role in the George Lucas World War II film RED TAILS.

Aml a true lover of filmmaking established his own company AmeenDream Entertainment in 2010, after being approached by an aspiring writer to produce a short film based on the London House Music scene titled “The Pick Up”. Using his contacts and pulling in additional favours, he assembled a team and AmeenDream was born.

His next venture was a silent film called Special Delivery, about a post-woman who had become despondent with life, until love arrives on her doorstep. This was followed by the romantic teenage comedy “Drink Drugs and KFC” a coming of age drama where a young man falls in love with the most popular girl in school. These two films won The British Urban Film Award two years consecutively. Aml also won a Screen Nation Award (Black BAFTA Award) for his work. He now moves on to his first American Short film “Hoorah”, with American Writer Bruce Purnell and is in pre-production for the American feature film LA Nights – a love story set in Los Angeles.

IMG_AmlAmeen2013 saw Aml Ameen in his first major Hollywood film role as the young Cecil Gaines (the part played by Forest Whittaker in the Lee Daniels Epic THE BUTLER).

Later this year Aml will co-star alongside (True Blood Star) Steven Moyer in the crime-thriller “Evidence”. Aml has also signed on to play the lead role of ‘ALBY’ in the 20th Century Fox studio film “The Maze Runner”, based on the popular trilogy novel by James Dashner.

It is no surprise that at home and oversees his journey is being likened to that of British movie star Idris Elba, with big things to come in 2014 and beyond.

www.amlameen.com
www.spotlight.com/261912722109 (Showreel)

John Boyega

John BoyegaJohn Boyega is sipping an orange juice and comparing the new wave of black stories to the invention of cinematic sound. “Silent films were the norm and that was how it was going to carry on,” he says. “Everyone was happy, nothing was going to change. Then a couple of crazy people said they wanted to transform the narrative basis of cinema by letting you hear the characters. And they did, and it was never the same again.”

We’re catching the last of the sun outside a Hackney café. Boyega is as you might imagine from his online presence; open, charming, quick to joke and full of bravado. But when he talks about being a young black man in cinema, in London and in life, its clear how deeply he feels it and how much thought has gone into it.

“It’s no secret that it’s harder for black people to get their stories out there,” he says of the UK film industry, “I don’t know what they’re thinking, in terms of art, in terms of casting…I find it so weird having to film in London and it’s all white people.  We live in a multicultural city, in a multi-cultural country, in a multi-cultural world.  Everyone needs to wake up, its 2014!”

Boyega is still best known on these shores for his debut as the gang leader Moses in Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block. If I took a straw-poll of the rest of the café, few people could tell you his name or what else he’s done. But Boyega has earnt the right to say these things and be listened to, for his short career his rapidly turned remarkable.  In January, Boyega premiered his new film Imperial Dreams at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and was heralded as a genuine A-list star.  “Another victory lap for this young actor, who’s going to go on to do big, big things,” wrote Indiewire.

At Toronto last year, he was singled out for his supporting role in Brixton playwright Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun (released April 11); quite an achievement given he shares almost all his screen time with Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejofor. Along with Ejiofor, David Oyelowo and Idris Elba, Boyega is the youngest of a new vanguard of black British actors to push at a long held status quo: that movies don’t have to naturally reflect the perspectives of the empowered white man.  That history is various and multiple, that minorities in society don’t need to be minorities in art.  He talks about this pursuit almost as if it were his destiny.  Developing a platform to tell these stories is part of a strategy he’s been working on since his early teens.  And success was inevitable.

“I knew it was going to come, I’m not going to lie,” he says. “Being an actor is number one, but knowing how much is up for grabs is another thing.”  You aspire to the big jobs, to telling the stories you care about, because they’re there.”

John Boyega in HOAYSHis household, he says, was animated and he was privy to conversations not dissimilar to the ones heard in Half Of A Yellow Sun, in which he plays a silent and perceptive houseboy, listening in on regal conversations about democracy, freedom and equality as the decade-long Nigerian civil war starts to turn lives upside down. “It sets new standards for Nigerian film,” he says “because there was an actual decision to capture the happy, colourful side of Nigerians but also the conflict and war that took place in Nigeria and between Nigerian people,” he says.  “It’s an important story for me, an opportunity to share my heritage.”

But Boyega is not sated with supporting roles.  A couple of weeks before we meet, the news broke that he has been cast in a Hollywood biopic of one of the true black icons of the 20th centuary; he is to play Jesse Owens, the son of an Alabama share cropper who won four medals in front of Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  I tell him Jesse Owens will be the biggest part of his career, and he responds as if that’s only just occurred to him. “Yeah,” he laughs, “I reckon you’re right.  I haven’t had a chance to sit in the role and just flow with it yet, but yeah, it’s a big deal.”

He’s only had the chance to read through the scripts a couple of times, as he’s about to start filming the London based return of Fox’s 24 opposite Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.  But when he talks about Jesse Owens, you sense he’s in awe of the man.

“He risked his life to go to Germany to run in front of Hitler,” Boyega says.  “There were people in America saying he shouldn’t go, that he wasn’t capable of representing the United States.  This is thirty years before the Civil Rights movement, and he couldn’t sit down on a bus, or go get some food. Don’t you think about your life? Don’t you think about your wife and your new baby at home? I never knew what it took to make a decision like that.  Just to run.  Just to run.  Just.  To. Run.”

He will have to go on a punishing regime to adopt Owen’s sinewy physicality, but he relishes the process.  “It’s going to be a lot of hard work,” he says.  “But it’s exactly the kind of story I want to tell.”  He pauses, finishes his orange juice and takes in the sun for a second.  “But next I want to discover a history before slavery, when black people were running things,” he says.  It sounds like he isn’t far off.

(This interview appears in the April issue of i-D magazine.  Reproduced with permission.)

For a full cast list of Half Of A Yellow Sun click here

John Boyega confirmed to star in Star Wars Episode VII

Femi Oyeniran

femiex2webFemi Oyeniran is a London-based actor who has starred in hit films including Kidulthood, Adulthood, 4,3,2,1 and Anuvahood. But Femi has also made the move from acting, to writing and co-directing his first feature being  It’s A Lot in which he also starred.

But things could have gone in a very different direction if Oyeniran had followed his parent’s careers advice. He completed  a law degree at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2008, but after graduating decided to focus on acting. Femi had already starred in genre-defining films Kidulthood and Adulthood with Noel Clarke and Adam Deacon where he is best known for his role as ‘Moony’.

From his experience as an actor, Femi decided there was a lack of projects portraying a rounded view of the Inner City London Experience. His first project was a semi-autobiographical short film called Fresh off the Boat, which was nominated as part of the 2009 Film London ‘Best of Borough’ awards. The film tackles the issue of the cultural difficulties faced by young immigrants in London schools; – a topic very personal to Femi as he moved to England from Nigeria, at the age of ten.

In 2010, Oyeniran and a collective of his creative friends decided to develop an online chat show concept called Cut the Chat (www.cutthechat.co.uk). This website is uploaded with original content every week and has already accumulated over half a million views.

Oyeniran has also made numerous television appearances  on such programmes as The Daily Politics, The Today Programme, BBC Breakfast (teenage pregnancy for Kidulthood promo), Sky News and BBC News 24 to discuss youth culture in London. In 2006, Oyeniran was invited to speak alongside David Cameron at a Centre for Social Justice Event, “Thugs: Beyond Redemption?”  For the past 18 months, Femi has run a weekly film and acting workshop at a Young Offenders Institution.

During the same period Oyeniran shot a feature length documentary about fatherhood in the black community. This was the brainchild of Tottenham MP David Lammy and featured such personalities as Trevor McDonald, Tinie Tempah and Spike Lee amongst others.

its-a-lot-filmHaving starred in Demons Never Die and Anuvahood, Femi embarked on writing his first feature film. It’s A Lot is a feel good teen comedy inspired by Femi’s love of 1980’s classics such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Risky Business and House Party. The film received it’s theatrical release in October 2013 and was released for home entertainment in February 2014. Oyeniran plays the lead and also co-directed. Last summer Oyeniran filmed Taking Stock by award winning director Meave Murphy, starring alongside Kelly Brook, Scot Williams and Georgia  Groome. Oyeniran is currently putting the finishing touches to the script for The New Black Sheep, a film based on the London riots due to go into production this year.
Keep an eye open for this Black British rising star.