I want to use entertainment to effect positive change, says Adefarasin
After discovering his passion for acting at a young age, Adeolu Adefarasin, son of Lagos-based Senior Pastor and Founder of the Guiding Light Assembly (GLA), Pastor Wale Adefarasin, Adeolu devoted his time to working tirelessly to understand his duty as an artiste and portray truth that draws cathartic responses from his audience.
Adeolu did not follow the family tradition of pastoring, but has forged his own path in the entertainment industry, Nollywood to be precise, insisting he wants to make a name for himself.
Trained in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), he majored in theatre at the Arts University, Bournemouth, where he honed his skill and developed the ability to command the attention of his audience, no matter the size.
While working as an actor in London, he earned rave reviews for his performances in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Silent before moving to the US, where he spent his first year training at the prestigious New York Film Academy, looking to make the transition from stage to camera.
There, he got a lead role in their end of year performance of The Lady and The Tyger. After graduating, he landed major roles in multiple off-Broadway productions and has since returned to Lagos.
Since then, he has featured in EbonyLife’s The Wedding Party, also starring Adesua Etomi and Banky W, as well as roles in popular series, Skinny Girl in Transit and Gidi Up.
In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, Adeolu spoke about his decision to return home and how he landed a role in The Wedding Party.
Who is Adeolu Adefarasin?
I am the youngest of three children of my parents, 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 am excited or passionate about something, you will have a hard time shutting me up.
I love the art in itself, but struggle with the social aspect of it. I would rather lie in bed watching a movie or television show than go out socialising.
I always express myself in artistic forms. One of my favourite past times is writing. Both spoken word and short stories, they are often where I express my deeper emotions.
On a lighter note, I love football. I am a Chelsea fan.
When did you go into acting and filmmaking?
I first discovered my passion for acting when I moved to boarding school in England. I was 13 and 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 and involved myself in it at every opportunity that I could.
I cannot really pinpoint where my passion for film and filmmaking grew, but I think it developed with time, as I became more incensed by the moral values the film industry was, and still is, promoting.
Since then, I have 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 filmmaker?
I think at the heart of it, I am more an actor than a filmmaker, because I trained primarily as an actor.
The reason I even got into filmmaking, really, is because I am 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 for me and gave me a place to act out in ways I wouldn’t ordinarily.
What would you say was your first big break?
It depends 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 off-West End original production of Silent Shakespeare and got great personal reviews for my performance.
Coming from a Christian background and your father being a pastor, is your family in support of your career choice?
You hear a lot of stories of Nigerian parents looking down on the arts or not letting their children pursue such careers, but my parents have always been supportive and always sacrificed for me to have the best opportunity I can pursuing it.
I come from a prominent Christian family and I am incredibly thankful for it, 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 society.
How has your move been, both personally and career-wise?
Moving back to Nigeria was initially a shock to my system, but that has transformed to a refreshing year, both personally and career-wise.
Personally, it has helped me grow faster than expected. My relationship with God has increased and has added a focus and drive that I had 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, and that is something I am passionate about being involved in.
You have a solid background in theatre and stage acting abroad. Are you going to do some of that in Nigeria?
I was primarily trained in theatre and personally prefer it to camera work. So, I would definitely love to get on stage here sometime in the near future.
How did you land a part in 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, and while there, they saw the potential to make more of the character of Kevin.
It was a great opportunity to land that part almost immediately after getting back to Nigeria.
I only shot for a day, but was taken aback by the way Kemi Adetiba works. She would be multitasking and yet be giving you all the attention you need to get the most out of you.
When compared to your character in Ndani Television’s Skinny Girl in Transit, how alike would you say you are?
My character’s name is Nathan, a soft-spoken “IJGB” and 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 should watch and make your own judgments.
Is there anything you want the world to know about Nollywood?
I would be honest. Coming home, I had a lot of negative assumptions that have been squashed. I have met a lot of smart, driven industry professionals with a lot of know-how and passion for the industry.
Yes, there is a long way to go, but we have great stories to tell and even better storytellers to tell them.