The EbonyLife and Times of Deyemi Okanlawon
The passion, emotion and energy that this actor puts into his performances are what keeps us glued to our screens. Even as we can’t seem to get enough of him, this actor is showing no traces of slowing down. I’m talking about none other than Deyemi Okanlawon. What don’t you know about Deyemi Okanlawon? You’re about to find out as EbonyLife TV got the chance to ask questions that have been on your mind.
Q.What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
A.So far I would say winning the award for Best Actor in a Short Film at the In-Short Film Festival for Tolu Ajayi’s psychological thriller, Blink (Check it out on my YouTube channel)
Q. Is acting what you always wanted to do, or was it an accidental blessing?
A. I’ve loved listening to, reading and telling stories since as far back as I can remember and from about the age of five I was in every one of my primary school plays. Years later, while I held down a series of very tasking day jobs, I still found ways to express my passion as an actor in a church group, Covenant Christian Centre’s Xtreme Reaction, and had the opportunity to take the Acting for Film course at NYFA in collaboration with Delyork.
Q. What is something you know now that you wish you knew before you started as an actor?
A. I wish I had known how much make up I’d have to use. [Laughs]
Q. Is there a role that got away? A role you really wanted but was not casted for?
A. Funny you ask that because I auditioned for a role in Ebony Life’s Desperate Housewives and I’m still waiting for my call back from Mo Abudu [Smiles]. After my first professional stage production at the British Councils’ Lagos Theatre Festival, I got a call to participate in one of the plays at the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) but the production schedule clashed with prior commitments. Truth is I firmly believe that, as long as I do the work required, roles that are meant for me never pass me by.
Q. What actor/actress Hollywood or Nollywood would you really like to work with but have not yet had the opportunity to?
A. There are so many great actors in Hollywood and Nollywood that I would love to work with. Since I’m relatively new to the scene there are way too many to name. Meryl Streep, Rita Dominic, Kate Henshaw, Omotola Jelade, Natalie Portman, Genevieve Nnaji, Gabrielle Union, Nse Ikpe Etim, Stella Damasus, Ini Edo, Mercy Johnson, Richard Mofe Damijo, Denzel Washington, Idris Elba, Leonardo Dicaprio, Liam Neeson, Anthony Hopkins, Olu Jacobs, Lupita Nyongo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and my favourite African actors Hloma Dandala, Yvonne Nelson, Jocelyn Dumas, Majid Michel… (well I did warn you the list was long)
Q. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on/off set?
A. Dropping my power bike while doing a stunt to impress some chics. The applause at my second attempt nearly made up for it.
Q. What determines your interest in a role?
A. To me every role is an opportunity to gain expertise and experience however I would readily choose to play a character that is in contrast to my “type” – my looks, background and personality, and that has a range of emotions and/or motives in a story that strikes a chord in my heart.
Q. You play the lead male role in Dowry, how similar or different is Deyemi Okanlawon to the character you played? How easy or hard was it getting into character?
A. [Laughs] Contrary to what my naughty colleagues on the set of Dowry claim, I like to think I’m nothing like Demola – he’s quite arrogant and self absorbed. However with Victor Sanchez’s direction I was able to identify elements of the character that I could relate with and so playing the part wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined it would be.
Q. Everyone knows that directors look for certain things in actors when casting, but what do you look for in a director?
A. Leadership. I find that for me the ability to lead cast and crew should, at the least, directly correlate with the director’s passion and strength of vision for telling a story. As an actor I am literarily clay in the hands of my director so having one in whose leadership I can trust is paramount. So far I have been blessed to work with great directors and have met many more recently who have expressed interest in working with me.
Q. What sacrifices have you made to get to where you are?
A. I had built an over 8 year career in sales and marketing and my previous job was as the marketing manager in a multinational e-commerce company. I switched careers in September 2013 to act full time.
For years I had to work gruelling hours in order to hone my skills, sometimes going straight to the office from all-night rehearsals and working weekends usually for absolutely no pay. The reviews received after putting up some of my work on my YouTube Channel made it all worth it.
Q. What is your pet peeve?
A. Time wasting, I have great respect for other people’s time and like to be on time. Nowadays I’ve learnt to carry work along with me so I don’t get stuck doing nothing while waiting for a scheduled appointment.
Q. If there was more time in the day I would… (please complete sentence)
A. Read more.
Q. My motto in life is… (please complete sentence)
A. No excuses!
Q. Favourite time of the year?
A. My birthday (the day I switch off my phones and take a day off from the world).
Q. My life would not be the same without… (please complete sentence)
A. A lifelong friend of mine – Yeshua (Google him. He’s quite famous).
Q. It’s high time I… (please complete sentence)
A. Get a breakout film role and win an Oscar for it [Smiles]
Q. I would like my life to be remembered with… (please complete sentence)
A. Characters and stories as well as film and theatre-related charity projects that inspire the Nigerian youth to reach for the stars.
Q. A time I wish I could relive was when… (please complete sentence)
A. I got down on one knee and proposed to the love of my life.
Q. What’s next? Any professional or personal plans in the horizon?
A. More training in film and theatre acting
Gaining experience in producing, directing
Leverage my ecommerce experience in promoting film and theatre productions
Living happily ever after
Thank you for letting us into the life and times of Deyemi Okanlawon. We wish you the best for all future endeavours.
Stay tuned for the next EbonyLife and Times edition where you are always guaranteed a good time! And do remember, life is short and time is swift so make a difference!