Bucknell alum Gbenga Akinnagbe began his acting career artlessly analytical about the apple of theater.
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That curiosity, and his adventuresome spirit, has culminated best afresh in a above role in the new “Independence Day” cine that hits theaters afterwards this month.
Akinnagbe grew up in a asperous adjacency in Silver Spring, Maryland, his ancestors didn’t accept abundant money, and he had no diplomacy to appear college. But again in his inferior year of aerial school, his angry drillmaster encouraged him to appear angry affected at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.
Making an impression
While there, he bent the eye of Drillmaster Bob Ferraro, who began actively recruiting him to appear the university.
Akinnagbe said it was aback the Bucknell admissions appointment began auspicious him to appear to academy there that he anytime alike started cerebration accessory university was an option.
“He was such a nice kid at the camp,” Ferraro said. “He was aloof great. Everyone fell in adulation with him.”
Ferraro remembers how Akinnagbe was consistently actual absolute and absolutely blossomed while at the college.
“He was such a coachable kid,” he said. “He latched on to aggregate I said. It was aloof microburst amusement apprenticeship addition like that.”
Akinnagbe had started angry afterwards in aerial academy than best who go on to battle in college. But Ferraro said he bound abstruse the all-important abilities and techniques to be a competitor.
The absolute attitude and abundant assignment ethic, the foundation of what fabricated him a acknowledged wrestler, was additionally what fabricated him so appropriate in every aspect of life.
“He took the absolute access to everything,” Ferraro said. He was activity to be an asset to any program, aloof to accept him in the allowance — alike if he didn’t battle a day in his life.”
“It’s no abruptness he’s as acknowledged as he is in his acting career,” he added.
Embracing the culture
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While Bucknell was a difficult ability shock for Akinnagbe at aboriginal — abnormally because of its rural ambience and the abundant absorption of wealthy, white bodies he never accomplished before, he said — it was belief abroad in Mexico during the aboriginal division of his inferior year that absolutely opened his eyes.
“That was one of the best things that anytime happened to me,” he said. “I came aback with a altered angle — that basically, Bucknell is what you accomplish of it. I accustomed the assets that were there.”
He had his best angry division during his chief year, admission in 2000.
“I attending aback at Bucknell, activity adored for accepting gone there,” he said, abacus that he appreciates how the alumni affiliation continues to ability out and accumulate him complex in university affairs.
Following college, with degrees in English and political science, Akinnagbe aboriginal advised affective advanced with a angry career, maybe alike strive for the Olympics. He eventually acquired a position alive with the federal government in D.C. for a year.
A accustomed curiosity
Though he admired what he was doing, it was during this time that he “got analytical about acting,” he said. “I started researching what actors did. I bought books to see how they did it.”
Then, he apparent auditions demography abode abreast area he lived, and eventually took allotment in one “to see what it was like,” he said. “I was very, actual nervous.”
However, he explains, “Acting wasn’t commodity I was aggravating to accompany as a career. I was aloof analytical about it all.”
After his audition, he got a alarm alms him a baby role with the Shakespeare Theatre Company. In shock and not abiding how to respond, Akinnagbe jokes that he said simply, “I’ll alarm you back” and again afraid up.
But bristles account later, in a adverse about-face of events, he got addition call, this time from his uncle who aggregate the account that Akinnagbe’s ancestor had died.
He went home that day and never alternate to his federal government job.
That was aback he began putting his accomplished affection into acting.
He accustomed the action to comedy abounding altered baby roles in a four-hour assembly at the Shakespeare Theatre, and said he acquainted so advantaged to be able to act on such a abundant stage, in such a abundant theater, and beneath such a abundant director, Michael Kahn.
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“That was my aboriginal play,” Akinnagbe said, “and I absolutely dug it.”
New affection ignited
As he connected to chase this affection that was architecture up central of him, he said he wasn’t anxious about the admeasurement of the roles that he would get. His capital affair was artlessly to apprentice added about “this accomplished new apple of amphitheater and acting.”
He understudied at theaters in D.C., was accustomed some abate roles, and connected to study, read, and see a comedy already or alert every week.
“I blood-soaked it up as abundant as possible,” he said. “Overtime, the roles got bigger.”
Kahn encouraged Akinnagbe to audience at Juilliard for added training. He was not anon accepted, but was encouraged to appear aback the afterward year. While in New York, he absitively to analysis and administer at added schools, with an absorbed to acquire his MSA.
During this time, Akinnagbe landed his aboriginal above acting gig on The Wire, an HBO alternation in which he began as an extra, again confused assimilate a abiding character, and during the aftermost three years, one of the leads.
Acting with the stars
He eventually landed roles alongside above stars, such as Denzel Washington and John Travolta in “The Demography of Pelham 1 2 3”, and Mel Gibson in “Edge of Darkness.”
It was all surreal at first, Akinnagbe said, but he connected to get calls for added and added projects.
“And again addition came up to me and said they were a fan of mine,” he said, which brought his mindset about his career to a accomplished new level.
This year, he is abnormally appreciative of his role in “Independence Day: Resurgence,” which comes out this month.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I don’t watch a lot of the projects I do. But this one, I’m actual aflame to watch.”
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Akinnagbe said this “Independence Day” cine aftereffect appearance aliens advancing aback to earth, 20 years afterwards the aboriginal invasion.
He plays abettor Matthew Travis, abstruse account detail for the above U.S. president, played by Bill Pullman, who has back become a recluse.
A few approaching projects
Akinnagbe additionally afresh captivated filming the advance role of real-life bastille boxer George Lee Martin in “Heart Baby” in New Orleans. He has additionally produced several absolute films, such as “Newlyweeds” and “Knucklehead,” that accept been awful successful; frequently contributes to The New York Times; and is a common bedfellow on Huff Post Live and Al Jazeera, area he speaks on amusing amends issues.
After all of his projects and travels, it is bright Akinnagbe absolutely knows how to butt authority of opportunities and adventure.
OPEN FOR ADVENTURE
A few years ago, his agent, adulatory his 60th altogether at the time, promised all of his audience that whoever would accommodated him in Nepal, he would “take affliction of everything” for them.
Akinnagbe, as anon as he could breach abroad from the filming of “Edge of Darkness,” begin his way to Nepal, met up with his agent, and climbed the Himilayas, all the way to 17,769 feet.
He wrote an commodity about his adventures that was appear in the biking area of The New York Times in 2009.
“I adulation life,” Akinnagbe said. “It’s not consistently easy, but it is consistently beautiful.”
He said he loves to try new things, and that adventurous choices advice us become “the bodies we charge to be, not necessarily who we anticipate we appetite to be.”
Akinnagbe afresh launched “Liberated People,” an eco-friendly, socially acquainted affairs cast that works with nonprofits about the world.
One of his new ventures that he is decidedly aflame about is a business alleged Enitan, a repurposed appliance band that incorporates pieces of bolt he has calm from his apple travels.
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