Kunle Remi: I’m more drawn to challenging roles
Kunle Remi is an actor, a model and TV host. He came to prominence after winning the seventh edition of Gulder Ultimate Search in 2010. Remi, who was raised in Ibadan, Oyo State where he had his basic and tertiary education, is also a graduate of the New York Film Academy. He also studied Filmmaking and Directing in the same academy a year later. He has since 2011 featured in several films, TV series and stage plays including Heavy Beauty, Family Forever, Tinsel, Lagos Cougars Reloaded, The Getaway, Falling, and Africa Magic’s Forbidden. In 2021, Remi became the co-host (taskmaster) of Gulder Ultimate Search. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, he shares his passion for acting and directing.
YOU came to prominence after winning a reality show in 2010. How has that helped you evolve?
Coming into prominence after winning Gulder Ultimate Search competition helped me to be more daring and confident. At this point in my career it is more of being a goal getter. I am focused on my goals and achieving them, I am not hindered by opinions. I am even charged to dream even more.
What was your attraction to acting and have you always wanted to be an actor?
Yes, I have always wanted to be an actor and an entertainer. This, for me, feels like a dream come true because I watched all the veterans today while growing up. And so it is an honour now for me to be working with them at this point in my career. Everything I have always wanted to do is entertainment; a filmmaker and storyteller and it has always been in the works.
Tell us about your growing up and its impact on your career choice?
Growing up was amazing. I have very supportive parents, they ensured we had the best education and they let you pursue your dreams. I am the second child out of six children. My younger brother is studying theatre arts at the moment and I am his mentor, but I am the only one in the family who is an entertainer. When you have children, it is easy for you to tell what line of career path they would toll, which was it for me. It has always been fulfilling for me being an entertainer.
What informs your choice of movie scripts and project you embark on?
First thing to ask is, what is the motive and essence of the script, what is the moral of the story? Are we just entertaining for the fun of it? It has to have some certain level of influence. For example, if I have to play the character of a criminal, there has to be a part that supports law and order, not just glorifying wrong doings. Who am I working with? Are they serious filmmakers who are ready to put in 100 per cent to the work? Hence for me, it is more of what drives the characters, the essence of the story. What benefit it is for the society, is there something for the younger people to learn? Basically, what is the story you are telling? That’s one of the things I look out for. I also look out for challenging roles. I’m not the kind of person that likes to do easy work. Easy work is always fun once in a while, but I’m more drawn to roles that are more challenging. For example, the Anikulapo I just shot.
I would say it is by far the most challenging role or character I’ve had to play. And it’s not just as simple as that; I also had to work with a lot of veterans I watched growing up. Most of them would have been there in the industry for 40 or 50 years and I’m playing leads, the centre of all of them. I’m also speaking not just the Lagos Yoruba, but the proper Oyo Yoruba and you also have to find a balance with all that. So it’s more of how challenging it is, if it is going to make me better, if it is going to stress my brain or make me want to do more.
What new project are you working on and what should we be expecting from you?
I am looking at so much more this year. I’m literally always working so sometimes I find time to balance and have some fun, relax and travel if I have to. But I’m always working so I can’t even particularly say ‘look out for this’ because there’s so much more to look out for. I just came back from shooting my second Netflix original – Kunle Afolayan’s Anikulapo Kuti project which lasted for about six weeks in Oyo State and I’m still reliving that and trying to adjust into the system. I had to shave my beard and change my entire look. I am also resetting my brain to the norm. So, as much as I’m done with the project, I’d like to take some time off before I move on to the next one. In as much as we turn down some projects due to timing, there’s still always this feel of gratitude to God and being grateful for the fact that I’m excellent at what I do and I’m willing to do more by the grace of God.
How would you define your style?
My style is confident, bold, fun and sweet.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is how you present yourself and how you feel. I’m not the one to jump on trends or what’s going on. I like my fashion to be how I genuinely feel. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to be corporate and people would ask me why I dressed in corporate attire. At other times, I dress according to the week. But mostly, the foundation of my fashion is how I feel.
What is your favourite outfit?
I can’t say I have a favourite outfit; I just like to be laid back and relaxed. It is slippers, sandals, shorts and jeans for me. It’s always a feeling for me.
What key lessons have you learned so far in the industry?
I’ve leant that talent is not enough; that humility is key, respect is important, and being prepared, above all, is the most important thing because opportunity, they say, meets preparation. So you have to be prepared for what you dream for. In situations where you are suddenly summoned or caught off guard, you have to stay prepared. You also have to stay respectful, be clear with communication, be direct, let your no be no and vice versa. Whatever it is that you decide or agree to do, make sure you do it 100 per cent or don’t do it at all. There’s no room for half measures here.
Describe Kunle in three words.
Charming, happy, and graceful.
You talked about your passion for directing. Do you have any works to your credit?
There is time for everything. First of all, the content I do online, I direct them myself and you can see in my content that I have a pattern and that I’m going towards something. I have a couple of projects that I penned down. Some maybe projects that I keep in my heart for later time, but for now, I am the content. I’m in front of the camera and I’m enjoying this moment. With time, I will morph into it and when that time comes I’ll know. I’m still in my directing master classes; I’m still learning more from people, especially working with Kunle Afolayan and Biodun Stephens, because experience is key. In as much as you have educational training, experience is major thing.