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RAZ ADEOTI A HIDDEN GEM IN HOLLYWOOD

By Samantha Ofole-Price
“I remember when I first saw Chris Tucker in ‘The Fifth Element’ I was really surprised that he took that role because it was out there. I am sure many actors would have been reluctant to do what he did, but it was a superb performance.”Image courtesy of
“I remember when I first saw Chris Tucker in ‘The Fifth Element’ I was really surprised that he took that role because it was out there. I am sure many actors would have been reluctant to do what he did, but it was a superb performance.”Image courtesy of

Many actors would balk at the thought of playing a closeted homosexual on the big screen, but for actor Razaaq Adoti it was just another day on the job.

Born in England to Nigerian parents, Adoti maybe somewhat of a newcomer to Hollywood , but his star is very much on the rise thanks to roles in movies 'Amistad, 'Black Hawk Down' and 'Doom.' With an explosive role in the thriller 'Cover,' the theatrically trained Adioti is finally staking his star in Hollywood . Samantha Ofole-Prince caught up with the actor to hear about his latest project.

A lot of actors would probably be a little nervous to play a gay character irregardless of the circumstances. Did you view the role with caution when you initially read the script?

I am aware that the script fell through a few actors hands before it reached my lap, but it's a great script and when you look at the cast that's been assembled only a fool won't want to be part of this project. I want to play a full range of different characters and one of the beautiful things that excite me about this profession is that I am able to do so. I am trying to do the kind of movies that hopefully will allow me to inspire someone else and allow my family to be proud and me to be fulfilled at the same time.

Are you concerned or worried about how your family will receive this movie?

They know I did a movie and they are very happy about that. I am interested in seeing their reaction. My mum is very conservative and I think she will be shocked and surprised.

How did you prepare yourself mentally for the role? Did you visit certain gay bars or clubs in the area?

I had a couple of friends who are gay and as soon as I got the role I was calling them to get their opinion. My friend who was gay knew about a club in Los Angeles and of course I was hesitant to go, but I was thinking about the work knowing that I had to take it seriously and went there and all I saw was thugs. It was like a 50 Cent video. Hats were slanted to the side, jeans were sagging and it was the whole bill. None of them looked in the slightest gay and it wasn't until they started playing music and a couple of brothers started dancing with each other then you realize. It was really eye opening as I knew then that the truth to the character was to play him as if he's just a man who is in love with his wife, loves his daughter and his family and has another life behind closed doors.

You have a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting and it seems you're obviously serious about you craft, but at one point you wanted to be cameraman?

That was more to pacify my parents and offset any potential drama I could be facing. Acting as you know is not the most respected profession for a first generation Nigerian.

This movie is definitely going to elevate your status – are you ready for the nuances that come with fame?

I'm down to earth and I am a big kid and things like that don't really faze me. I have my nucleus of friends and I know this business is un-forgiving. It really is here today gone tomorrow. I am more interested in working consistently and shooting my project 'Area Boyz', which is the working title of a project that I have written that's set to be shot between London and Lagos.

What's that about?

Loosely, it's a semi autobiographical story about my own life and my mother's life. 50/60% of it is and the rest of it is stuff that I've heard or seen or been told indirectly about things that go down in Nigeria. There's a clear agenda by a lot of the media out here in the West to just show Africa especially Nigeria in a very negative light and we all know it for the beautiful country that it is. I definitely want to get some beautiful images of the motherland out there with some inspiring, strong characters. There are 54 countries on the continent of Africa and I think 5 of them have any type of conflict but it will reported as if the whole country is a battle zone and its unfair and untrue and some of us have a responsibility to attempt to set the record straight on this and that's what my humble work attempts to do.

What stage of completion is it?

It's written and we are in pre-production and it's partially cast and we are still finalizing some of the cast and finance. The plan is to shoot this September 2008 between London and Nigeria. I am so proud of Nollywood and what those guys have achieved and I am definitely trying to collaborate with my Nigerian counterparts as well. We don't see ourselves out here on the big screen unless you want to count 'Blood Diamond' and things of that nature which doesn't represent us and that's not the life for 90% of us on the continent. There is another side. We have love stories, we have comedies, dramas and it's not all about doom and gloom.

What do you make of the Nollywood flicks and do you have any favorites?

Nollywood movies aren't perfect but what is perfection? Everything has the opportunity to grow and evolve. There are often technical difficulties to some of these movies but it doesn't take away from the essence of the story. That is a wonderful achievement especially to be faced with the obstacles they are faced with when they make some of these movies. I've become addicted to them. Tunde Kelani is just a great director and I love what he does. 'Abeni' is definitely one and I love 'Blood Sisters' as well. The performances of the two children in that movie were so good that if they were in the States there would be Oscars handed out all around.

What's the best advice received so far in your career on how to develop your craft?

You pick up so many tidbits. I asked Spielberg about his directing and how does he remember everything and he said to me that he actually comes to work half prepared because he works better out of fear.

Source: Samantha Ofole-Price