As told to Sherria by Femi Oyeniran
There has been a lot of hype in the news about British heartthrob, Idris Elba. But there are a ton of other British Actors who are building their careers to go global and mainstream. I had the opportunity to speak to British actor and entrepreneur, Femi Oyeniran. Femi talks about being a black actor in the UK, his latest projects and what inspires him. This is part 1 of 2.
1) What is your occupation?
I am an actor, director, writer, entrepreneur and all round hustler!
2) What inspired you to pursue your dreams?
I was inspired to pursue my dreams when I was given the opportunity to appear in a film called “Kidulthood” and the sequel was coming out a few weeks after I finished law school. I thought if I don’t chase this dream now, I’ll never know what could have been. I suppose a key moment was when I met my personal tutor at university and she was telling me with a lot of regret in her eyes(almost tears) that she was once an actor and she had the choice to either do her final law exams or start work on a TV program. She obviously chose law and became an academic. The regrets in her eyes drove me to chase my dream.
3) What barriers are there in the UK for a minority to obtain quality roles in film?
Lots of obstacles but you have to side step obstacle. The fact is when you’re a minority you are the whim of the majority. This is reflected at all level of media. However, the arrival of the internet and cheaper high quality equipment means that we don’t have to wait to get given roles anymore. We make roles for ourselves!
4) Tell us about Cut the Chat and how it started?
Cut the Chat is an online (soon to be TV) chat show that went live on January 2009. It was started by a group of people that were passionate about creating something different that reflected a different perspective of the British Black Experience. It has since been harnessed by myself, director Darwood Grace and producer/presenter Damon Elleston. It’s a chat show based in the barbershop – It’s basically “Barbershop” (the movie) meets “The View” (the chat show) with 4 black guys (myself [actor], Damon [barber], Lee Littleman [comedian] and Ace [BBC Radio Presenter]) who are doing really well within their chosen fields presenting. We have since gone on to develop a live format with a live audience which has been filmed at the world famous art gallery the Tate Britain amongst other venues.
*Editor’s Note: For our American readers, I would compare Cut the Chat to former MTV series, “The Shop.”