A few years ago, our G-MAN Deyemi Okanlanwon took one of the biggest leaps of his life. He left the corporate world to pursue his love for acting. Now he’s made his way onto our screens and is fast becoming a household name. He took off time to have a chat with us and was so delightful.
-AANU AYOLEKE

It’s so easy to strongly dislike a lot of the characters you’ve played, but you’re actually really likeable in reality.

Hmm, I’m likeable? Perhaps you‘ve forgotten I’m an actor. (Laughs)

How easy is it to shake off these characters once shooting is over?

Depending on the technique(s) I employ in
creating [the character], the intensity and
distance from my true self, some characters are easier to shake off than others.

How often do you run into fans who cannot seem to let go of your on-screen bad boy image?

(Laughs) Not often but it’s happened a few
times.

You’ve had memorable supporting roles in quite a few blockbusters, with Royal Hibiscus Hotel being the most recent, have you gotten used to the fame yet?

I’m more focused on just doing great work that I can be extremely proud of and that
people will love and be entertained by. I view any popularity gained as incidental and I suspect it’s going to be a long while before I get used to being recognised by people when I step out.

How do you stay grounded?
I spent most of my young adult years immersed in a family of believers so between my relationship with God and my nuclear, extended and spiritual family I had access to more than enough people who were quite eager to knock sense into my head. That sense is still there influencing the decisions I make about life and work.

You left the corporate world a little later than most to pursue your dreams, what unique challenges did you have to overcome?

Actually I’m convinced my corporate experience was a huge advantage. Not only
did it better prepare me to handle the unique challenges of the African film industry but I had gained skills that seem to have helped accelerate the growth of my career.

What has your favourite role been and how did you prepare for it?

I only do work that I’m extremely excited about so I’ll be hard pressed to tag any as a favourite. However one of my most memorable was a short film called Blink
(you can check it out on my YouTube
channel) where I played a psychotic husband who was stuck in a torturous dream world. It took watching loads of videos and studying mental health patients to understand the character’s situation as well as four weeks of deep sea diving breath exercises to be able to hold my breath long enough to shoot the underwater scenes.

What’s the toughest thing about being an actor?

For me it’s having to spend time away from
my family.

A lot of people experience a new level of maturity after becoming parents. How did becoming a father change you?

When my kids came I felt as if a heavy mantle had been draped over my shoulders. However being a father didn’t change me as much as it intensified my focus on the things that I’ve come to realise are priority – God, family, health and finances – everything else is a distraction.

And how have you been able to integrate fatherhood into your increasingly demanding career?

Simple. When I’m home I’m 1000% present, same as when I’m at work and I’m
very strict with the time I’ve apportioned to both.

Besides acting, is there any other thing you are involved in?

Extra sheet please! Along with acting, I am an events host; the host of the children’s TV
show – Super Smart Kids; host of Deyemi Unscripted on the online radio platform
Vibeoo; I am a motivational speaker (focused on youth and women development); [I also] teach a class – The Business Of Acting, for aspiring actors and work with my brother Detola on his annual Christmas concert for public school kids. I’m also involved in a few start-ups – CES (an entertainment consulting firm), Space Share (a real estate venture) and Imagine Lenders (a social lending scheme tackling poverty alleviation) and Baker’s World (my family’s 30-year-old cake and confectionery business).

If you could say a few words to your 16-year-old self, they would be…

Hey I’m from your future. You are the best and have achieved everything you earnestly set your heart and mind to do. So STOP FAFFING AROUND AND GET TO WORK!

As an actor, getting into character takes some preparation, can you take us through your creative process?

Haba… that’s my trade secret na! (Laughs)

For more exclusive interviews and interesting stories and articles, get the digital Copy of our May Issue HERE

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