Sunday, 4 March 2018

HOLLYWOOD ACTOR, FEMI OLAGOKE: "BLACK PANTHER WILL HELP PROMOTE CULTURE AND LANGUAGE IN NOLLYWOOD"

Photography-Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
He is one of the three Nigerians that featured in the most recently talked about film, Black Panther. Femi Olagoke acted alongside Sope Aluko and Nnamdi Nwosa but he was also behind some powerful stunt moves which means he is not just an actor but can also give meaning to some interpretations of make-believe.

It is not every actor that can perform stunts but when you have a stunt man delivering world class acting, you can imagine the amount of training undergone by such a professional. Interestingly, he is also a model and a dancer. Where do I begin from?

Let's start from the top. Recently, I stumbled on his picture posted online and I was quite excited to do an interview and so I got in touch with him online. Femi Olagoke was born and raised in Lagos. He lived mostly at Surulere and Victoria Island areas of the city. As a kid, he had dreams of being and doing so many things ranging from a successful business executive to an Olympic athlete, actor, entertainer and more. There is no doubt that Femi is on that road to being a force to be reckoned with especially among the black community.


Femi moved to the United States to further his education graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. He says moving to the U.S exposed him to a world of possibilities, opened up those curiosities in him and leading him to discover more about himself. Today, that quest has led him to be a part of the Hollywood family where his acting and stunt skills can be valued and appreciated. 

His professional stunt skill has graced productions like Gotham, John Wick:Chapter 2, Marvel's Luke Cage and Power. Others coming soon are Avengers:Infinity Wars and Dwayne Johnson's Rampage. I can't help but ask how Nollywood can improve their stunts and he emphasized that putting together the right team is important in execution. The cinematographer, stunt coordinator, fight choreographer, rigging specialists and stunt performers are key people to have. 

I must confess this is the first time am hearing a comprehensive list of stunt professionals involved in a film production. He added " It requires a lot of moving parts to execute stunts properly to make it look great on film. Learning from some of the top professionals in the industry through training, workshops, classes is invaluable".
Photography-2souls photo
Femi was a playful and active child growing up. Lagos was fun and transformative for him as a child but it had its own challenges. He says "you learn a lot growing up in a place like Lagos. I cherish the values of respect, dignity, pride, and excellence". Aside his childhood memoirs shaping him, nature and culture have always inspired Femi. Living in Nigeria exposed him to lots of cultures around the world. He learnt about other countries which made him appreciate the differences and uniqueness in everyone. He added "music, food, dance, fashion and arts from around the globe inspire me to create uniqueness in my world and I embrace them while celebrating my own culture as well".

There is always a first experience for every talent or career; For Femi, his first experience as a stunt man was incredibly fun but was not challenging as it was a basic stunt he was comfortable performing. It was on the set of the film, Falling to the ground, and he had a kind and supportive crew to work with. As a graduate of Business Administration, Femi says it's extremely helpful in approaching the film industry with a business mindset even though it is an artistic and entertainment venture. Infact, he is aware of how the industry functions  from a business standpoint.

I cannot help but ask about Black Panther which has been rated well by most people across the world. Femi says the film represents many things he already knew. He was really glad, filled with pride and joy to see that blacks are being represented in a beautiful light on a platform this big. As for Nollywood, he says " I think Nollywood is doing a fantastic job. It has grown immensely over the years and with a movie like Black Panther being released, I think it will help bridge the gap in promoting more of our culture and language".
Photography-Bettina May
From his experience and training acquired so far, Femi advises that actors and dancers  should support each other and do collaborative works because it will help them grow as an artiste. Never be afraid to try new and unfamiliar things. He says these different experiences will be valuable in the future.

If Femi is not on a movie set working, he likes to really rest, listens to his body and do what's best for it such as a massage, acupuncture or soak in a warm bath. He wants to be remembered for creating positive influences around the world and also show that it is possible to achieve success with persistence and passion.
Photography-Simon Mcdermott-Johnson