British talent Araloyin Oshunremi, is driven by ambition. Notably recognised and lauded in the media for his character portrayal of Stefan Tovell in the Netflix series Top Boy, for which he was street casted, the actor has additionally featured in six episodes of Hearstopper. Taking on the role of Otis Smith and starring alongside a collection of up-and-coming in addition to recognisable talents including William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Stephen Fry and Olivia Coleman. The ambition which has driven his successes to date, additionally extends beyond his on-screen projects, the 18 year old, recalling the challenges which he faced during the early stages of his profession, has published an ‘Acting Guide’, engineered to ‘walk alongside’ people who hope to enter the space.
PWR: How do you believe the films’ you have watched in your youth, influenced your ambition to enter the acting industry?
Araloyin: As a kid, I didn’t really watch a lot of films, however I did watch documentaries. I would see very influential people in the documentaries, and I realised that there were a lot of stories which were being told, which greatly influenced me into wanting to pursue an acting profession. Documentary productions focused on the African diaspora, it’s culture and traditions, had a notable influence on my decision to become an actor, because the historical figures from Africa, who were being documented, were very powerful figures. However a lot of people did not know, or do not know who they are, and I felt like their stories needed to be told, so mostly African documentaries, which explore the African diaspora, delve into the history of the continent, and documents the lives of celebrated figures - such as Nelson Mandela, and Mansa Musa.
PWR: Which films do you hope to watch in the future?
Araloyin: I need to catch up on the Marvel productions. I want to watch Apocalypto again and really dissect it because I was quite young when I last watched it. Bohemian Rhapsody that would be a good one and Parasite, I keep seeing it, but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch it, so I want to see that.
PWR: To what extent do you believe acting in the Netflix series Top Boy has influenced your approach to future roles?
Araloyin: The experience of acting in Top Boy, has definitely influenced me to prepare more, for the next roles I undertake. With Top Boy, in the first two seasons I developed an understanding of the character as I was acting, I think with the next projects’ I would like to prepare way before. Going forward as soon as I know what the role is, I would do the research, or find real-life people whose lives are reflective of the character. So I know how I need to act and how I should be when I’m playing this role, and the ending result is a portrayal which is more natural to the viewer.
PWR: To what degree do you believe playing the role of Stefan Tovell in 17 episodes of the Netflix series, has shaped your viewpoint of your character and his experiences?
Araloyin: As an actor playing Stefan for so long, I feel like I have become more lenient on his character. Because playing this character has made me realise, people whose experiences are reflective of his, it’s not really their fault. They are usually in the situation because they are trying to find a semblance of love, or attention from somewhere. So me playing Stefan really made me realise that there are a lot of people out there who don’t get the love and attention they need, so therefore they go seeking it from places where sometimes, it may be the wrong place.
PWR: In your viewpoint, to what magnitude do you credit Top Boy, as having influenced your perspective of London’s gang culture?
Araloyin: I think the role, has opened my eyes as to why people enter, or become involved in London gangs. I live in Hackney, and there is quite a lot of gang violence in the area, however as an audience and people who are not involved in that lifestyle, we don’t really see why they do it, we just see them do it. So I think starring in the series, for me, made these people more human because, when we see it in the news, people in this culture are portrayed as these types of monstrous figures. However, I think Top Boy and other movies which echo it, portray the people being involved, as having no other choice. They have gone through certain situations in which they have been put in this predicament, and they try and get out of it, however there are elements which are holding them back. For example, they may have lost a member to that lifestyle, or are trying to feed their family, it made me realise people are human.
PWR: Having published an acting guide, how do you believe your own experiences have determined the ones you hope to teach others?
Araloyin: Going into the industry, I didn’t have a comprehensive understanding of the inner-machinations which drive the space, for example the self-production of casting videos and agent representation. The acting guide, gives the fundamentals of what people should have, to make it easier to enter the industry, so they don’t have to go through the same struggles which I experienced. The main points which I really wanted to focus on was where and how to get an agent, and how to approach auditions.
PWR: How do you hope to comprehend the degree of black talent evolving in the industry in the future?
Araloyin: I hope to see an influx of great black actors, and I want to see us in roles, which are out of our comfort zones and are for different audiences. A black actor, whose performance left a lasting impact on myself, I would say was Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah. That was a very powerful, influential role, and representative of the roles which I would like to play, because it was a very strong role. The whole movie was based off of real life events, so for him to do it so well, it was very powerful and strong.
PWR: Which lessons learned in foregone roles, have shaped how you hope to approach succeeding projects?
Araloyin: Defining the subtext in the scripts, that helps me a lot, as I am going on with my acting journey, and also developing an understanding of the reasoning behind the character’s lines.
PWR: Which three actors and directors do you believe are shaping the future of the industry?
Araloyin: For actors I see Daniel Kaluuya as being number one, another actor is Letitia Wright and also I think, who is very influential to all of us, is Joaquin Phoenix. Directors, I would say Ray Romano Smith, William Smith and Steve McQueen.
PWR: Where do you hope to take your career in the future, in terms of the directors you hope to work with and your ambitions for future roles ?
Araloyin: I want to work on movies which make people think a lot, so I can’t really say specific actors or directors because in the future, we don’t know whose going to be where in their career, people who have a talent for making meaningful movies, are people who I hope to work with. There are three actors who I would like to work with, Daniel Kaluuya definitely being one, I would like to work with Morgan Freeman and Viola Davis. I would love to work with Viola Davis.
From Araloyin’s ambitions for future projects to the talents who he believes to be at the vanguard of the contemporary entertainment industry, the actor’s interests are as complex and multifaceted as the characters he chooses to play. The young talent carries with himself, an uncompromising determination to succeed, driven by enduring aspirations for the future, from his ambition to work alongside Viola Davis, to one day starring in a production reflective of the ones which so influenced him.
Words by: Sabrina Roman