Femi Oyeniran first burst into the film scene playing Moony in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Brit-flick, ‘Kidulthood’, alongside rising talents Jaime Winstone, Noel Clark and Nicholas Hoult. Since then, the young actor has starred in the 2008 sequel ‘Adulthood’, recorded an album and graduated from the London School of Economics with a law degree. I caught up with the rising star to talk guns and Dr. who.
As an independent British film dealing with the taboo subject matter of drugs, under-age sex, violence and poverty, why do you think Kidulthood and Adulthood both enjoyed the phenomenal success that they did?
Kidulthood success came down to the fact that it was original. The film told a story which had never been told before in such a graphic, unapologetic way. Kids went to see it because they could relate to it, adults went to see it because they wanted to know more about inner-city youth culture. It was a movie which really got people talking about young people. After the film’s release, I was asked to do lots of press events to highlight the problem of gun-crime and violence regarding young people. The film gave Politicians an insight into the life of many young people in the capital. I did the hug a foodie campaign with Tory MP David Cameron, and I definitely think government objectives shifted after the release of the Kidulthood. Kidulthood paved the way for the success of Adulthood.
As a Londoner, do you feel that there has been an increase in violence among young people in the capital, or do you think that the media is just sensationalizing a long existing problem?
Well I went to a state school in north London, and I heard about people getting stab all the time. The problems that the media are highlighting relating to knife and gun crime amongst young people are definitely not new. I certainly think that there are topics at a certain time that the media like to follow. It’s unfortunate that the media chooses to only publish negative stories about young people. However apart from the BBC, news editors are just trying to sell newspapers and good news doesn’t sell.
What was it like working with Noel Clark, did you ever feel tempted to walk on set in a Dr. Who outfit?
Haha nooo. I actually didn’t really know who Noel Clark was. I had seen him in a BBC drama a while back but that was it. I’m not really a Dr.Who fan. The atmosphere on the set of the first film was magic though. We were a really young cast, and we all gelled really well. We were aware that we were part of something special, we just didn’t know what. Making Kidulthood is one of my fondest memories.
Now you’ve also dabbled in music as an M.C under the name of Blazey, do you feel any responsibility towards the messages you promote in your music?
I do feel a responsibility, and I do feel that as an artist and role model I should be careful about what I put out there. Although I also have to, as an artist, portray myself honestly. Musicians are social commentators, though I feel that it’s important to verify that talking about your past, doesn’t necessarily mean glorifying the negativity in it. Some critics said that kidulthood glorified knife and gun culture, but it was merely illustrating the existing problem.
After kidulthood you still decided to go to university, instead of ridding the success of the film and pursuing acting… Why?
Because I was clever! Haha! No, I have other career goals like practicing law which I’d like to pursue.
What tips do you have for other university students desperate to break into the ‘biz?
It’s hard! Everyone always sees the glamour and the glitz but it’s a constant struggle even when you’ve been in a successful film, or had a no.1. You still have to constantly prove yourself. I would tell anyone wishing to get into the industry to be prepared to work hard all the time.
Do you have any ‘Famous Last Words’ for our readers?
Always aim to be a shape shifter not a chameleon.
A chameleon adapts to its environment, a shape shifter makes its environment adapt for it.