When did you start acting?
I started acting when I was a kid in school plays and it was kind of a future dream. My parents are Nigerian, so it’s not the first career choice they approve of. I didn’t start taking it seriously until my senior year of college after I came to New York to intern. I realized I didn’t want to work a nine to five for the rest of my life and thought about what I really loved. I revisited the idea of acting then started taking classes outside of my university. When I moved to New York I was working a full time job but leaving work to go to classes and using my lunch breaks to go to auditions. A little more than two and a half years ago I finally said that I’m going to do it full time.
What prompted your decision to walk away from the nine to five?
I was working in a place where I didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my purpose. But that place happened to be located in the Theater District. On my lunch breaks I passed different theaters, saw people going to shows and actors coming from shows. At the time I was taking classes and auditioning, but I couldn’t commit the amount of time I wanted to because I was in the office for eight to nine hours. That combination lead me to realizing that it was time to follow my heart.
How much time do you dedicate to becoming a better actor?
On a regular day I wake up and check out what is going on in the business. My go-tos are deadline.com and The Hollywood Reporter. I probably have an audition or rehearsal to prepare for by going over the lines or doing character research. I’m searching for auditions and different opportunities as well. I try to infuse some type of learning or growth in my leisure time and even when I’m washing the dishes. Most of my day I’m doing something that involves my craft. I feel like doing that is contributing to my 10,000 hours.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a full-time actor?
The uncertainty of the business and what’s next. You have you high moments and moments when nothing happens. It can be difficult to measure your success, how far you’ve come and how far you need to go. A lot of opportunities are based on chance and you being in the right place at the right time. I’m working on giving up control over what’s to come and instead just taking it day by day and living in the moment.
How do you stay encouraged when things are slow?
God, of course. I truly believe that what I’m doing is one of my purposes in my life. Having a relationship with God and trusting that He’s got me is really helping me through.
You’ve done stage work, film as well as a web series. Are there any differences in how you approach varying types of projects?
There’s a lot more physical prep that goes into theater because you’re performing every day. But to be honest, I approach every project with the same intensity and importance. I aim to really understand the story and talk to the creatives behind it. I do just as much character research no matter the medium.
What draws you to projects and roles?
I’m starting to get to a place where I say I don’t want to do certain projects. I’m starting to understand what that means to me now. It’s honestly about projects that put representation at the forefront. I’m interested in stories that aren’t being told in the mainstream. Who’s involved is also a major factor. I’m a fan of a lot of different directors and actors. To be able to collaborate with them is a big deal to me.
What are your thoughts on the state of black entertainment?
I will start by saying there’s still a long way to go but I’m excited about jumping into the industry at this time. We have a lot more power and say so in the stories we want to tell and how they are told. I’m excited to see what’s happening on TV from Insecure to Atlanta to Power as well as seeing more black faces on stage.
What would you say to people of color who feel that theater is not for or accessible to them?
I had this conversation with a friend recently. I think the reason why people of color have felt that way is that we’ve never been represented in the space, but that’s shifting in a big way. I want everyone to know the different feeling you get from theater, from being in an immersive experience. Many think Broadway is the only theater out there. I would challenge people to go to Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway plays, see actors they’ve never heard of. Give those a chance and see what it’s like.
Can you tell me more about Inanimate and your role?
We just opened a couple of weeks ago at The Flea Theater and we were a New York Times Critics’ Pick. We were extended through October 1st, which is a great sign. Inanimate is about a woman who is in relationships with objects. I play the human form of one of the objects she has various types of relationships with. Our director Courtney Ulrich did an amazing job of blocking and making the script make sense for the audience. It follows the woman’s acceptance of herself, who she is and what she is. To me, it’s a play about love, about being okay with who you are and who you love. And others not judging people for who they are and who they love.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m a resident artist at The Flea Theater which has been amazing so far. I’m excited about developing as an artist there, participating in productions and being part of awesome things happening at the theater. I’ll still be auditioning as I want to do more film and TV. I’ll also be developing my skills as a writer and producer developing my own content. Right now I’m writing a pilot for a TV show.
How do you stay motivated as your pursue your dreams?
I stay motivated by surrounding myself with like-minded people. Not necessarily people who are actors and artists, but people who are determined and passionate for something. That really motivates, encourages and inspires me.