Actor Baba Oyejide: ‘I started writing because often what you see on screen isn’t my world’
Performing in a production of Courttia Newland’s Trim Palace in a west London community centre near Grenfell Tower, Baba Oyejide tells Giverny Masso how he hopes the production will help lift the spirits of the local community…
How did you get into acting?
It started in secondary school when I did a monologue, and thought: “This is cool.” I went on to do a BTec in acting at Hammersmith College. I couldn’t afford drama school and there was no one to tell me what funding I could get. Then I did a foundation in drama and theatre at Middlesex University. After that, I ended up coming to Intermission Youth Theatre after hearing about it from a friend. Intermission adapts Shakespeare into modern language. It’s a place you can go if you find it difficult to get into the industry.
What was your experience with Intermission like?
I always thought I could run away and never have to do Shakespeare, but now it’s fun and you feel somewhat clever when you’re doing it. I go back there all the time. Intermission is a place that will welcome you if you’re from a place that seems rough – an area full of crime. You don’t necessarily come to become an actor, you come to become a better person. Intermission is where I met Steve Macaulay, the director of Trim Palace.
What is Trim Palace about?
It’s set in a west London barbershop. I feel like I have similarities to my character Rashad, because of the way he is conscious of life. I lost my brother on June 8 last year, and while Rashad does not experience loss per se, he is a lost individual. We’ll be performing in a community centre in the Grenfell area. We thought the play could lift the spirit of this community. When you hear some of the lines in it, they’re talking about riots and protests. I feel that people around here will relate.
What has been your biggest career challenge?
Having to perform in a play the day after my brother died. Intermission’s 2012 production of Ring of Envy, based on Othello, was revived for the company’s 10th anniversary. There was no understudy, so if I didn’t go in the play wouldn’t go on. That was a big challenge. I told myself that if I could pull through it, everything would be okay. I think my brother would have wanted me to do it. I always wanted to make him proud.
What have you got coming up?
I’m doing a Netflix series that I can’t say more about at the moment. My brother knew I was auditioning, so getting the role made me think: “I have to keep going.” I’ve also written a short film called Conny Fellas. It’s about my world and where I come from in London, and what we have to do to survive. I started writing because any time I asked for advice about coming into this industry, people asked: “Have you thought about writing your own work?” I think there’s a need for more things like this to be written – often what you see on screen isn’t my world.
CV: Baba Oyejide
Training: BTec in drama, Hammersmith College; foundation in drama and theatre production, Middlesex University (2008-10); Intermission Youth Theatre (2012-15)
Agent: Roxane Vacca Management
Trim Palace runs at the Harrow Club, London, from January 23 to February 2