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Image by Chidofauxreal, courtesy of Femi Olagoke.

This Nigerian Actor Used His Incredible Stuntman Skills to Land a Role In 'Black Panther'

Femi Olagoke has worked on the set of major motion pictures, but he's currently celebrating one of his biggest roles to date.

Lagos-born Femi Olagoke was in college when he decided that he would pursue a career in acting, so he did what any person with Nigerian parents would do—he got a degree in business administration. His plan was to get a job in the corporate world to support his passion. After all "struggling artist" doesn't exactly qualify as a legitimate occupation in everyone's book.

He never did find that job though, his physical strength, acquired form years of sports training—he went to the University of Missouri where he ran track and field—made him uniquely qualified for work as a stuntman in major motion pictures and television series, including Avengers: Infinity War and Luke Cage, just to name a few.


He was working as a stuntman on the set of Black Panther when Ryan Coogler asked him to perform a few lines. He delivered, and is now billed in an acting role in the blackest, and most monumental film to hit theaters in years. We're guessing, that things can only up from here.

We caught up with the actor to discuss some of the technical parts of working as a stuntman and making his way on to the big screen in Black Panther. Read on for our conversation with Olagoke.

Image courtesy of Femi Olagoke.

Can you tell us more about the role that you play in Black Panther?

I play a Nigerian militant, in the opening scene of the movie.

Normally you work as a stuntman?

Yeah, I do work as a stuntman, I am primarily an actor, but because of my skillset and what I can do physically it helps as well. That's how I got this opportunity in Black Panther.

Wow so what's been the most challenging thing you've ever done as a stuntman?

I had to launch myself into this wall that had a big mirror on it. I had to hit the wall, then bounce off and hit the table, then hit the ground. So basically, I had to fall from a really high distance and hit the ground hard. It's not that it was challenging, but there was a lot of danger involved, because if I didn't do it right, you know, it wouldn't end well. But, fortunately, everything I've done so far has gone pretty well.

Glad to hear that. So it was your stunt work that led you to get your role in Black Panther?

Yeah, I was hired as a stuntman. But while I was on set, Ryan Coogler looked at the people he had and he chose some people to deliver certain dialogue.

It just happened like that?

Well, [getting the part was a mixture] of the experiences that I've had and the people who know you in the business and can vouch for you and your skillset. I had to send in a video of me doing fights and stunt work. So it's based on your experience, your skillset, your reputation and what you've done in the industry. So everything you've done helps. I think it's a combination of everything.

Image courtesy of Femi Olagoke.

What was it like being on set working with Ryan Coogler and the cast?

It was great, such a wonderful experience. It was very rewarding and satisfying.

It just felt good because we were doing something historic, and it's something that's close to home on so many levels, not just for me, but I know so many other people relate to it. So that feeling was there the whole time. Everyone was just happy to be there. Even though we knew the stakes, and what was at hand, we still had a great time. We all knew we wanted to deliver something great for you guys. Ryan is a very humble and focused director.

So you get to flex your Nigerian accent in the film?

Yeah, I mean it was like talking to one of my buddies, it was very comfortable and rewarding. Some time last year I got to audition for a part, I was going to play a Nigerian and they asked for the audition not only in a Nigerian accent but also in Yoruba. So that was my first time ever doing something like that in my career. It felt so good.

What's next for you?

There's something in discussion with my reps, but I can't talk about that yet. When it's time, everyone will know. It's still such a surreal experience to say I was in Black Panther.

Culture

The Best African Memes of 2018

Laugh with us into 2019 with OkayAfrica's best African memes of 2018.

Meme culture has become a mainstay on these internet streets. It's essentially an alternate form of communicating, of commentary and of simple laughter. 2018 had its fair share of highs and lows, and young Africans continue to utilize memes to celebrate or to cope with the nonsense.

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The Black Women Who Made Big Strides in France in 2018

Yes, this was a bad year for many reasons, but we can still celebrate the black women who rose to prominence

Back in 2015, a group of Black women activists appeared in the French media: les afrofems. They were and still are, fighting against police brutality, for better inclusion in the media and to destroy harmful sexual stereotypes surrounding black women among other worthy goals. Since then, more influential Black women have gained a bigger representation in the media. And, even better, some of the afrofems activists, like Laura Nsafou and Amandine Gay, have made films and written books to bring more diversity to the entertainment industry.

2018 has, in many ways, been a year where black women made strides in France, at least in terms of culture. From winning Nobel prizes, to having best selling books and being on top of the charts, Black French women have showed that, no matter how much France wants to keep them under the radar, they're making moves. And, no matter the tragedies and terrible events that have shaped the year, it is something worth celebrating.

France's New Queen of Pop Music

We begin with Aya Nakamura, France's new queen of pop music. Her song Djadja was a summer hit. Everyone from Rihanna, to the French football team who successfully won their second world cup, sang it. Her sophomore album "Nakamura" has been certified gold in France and is still on top of the charts. She is the first French singer to have a number one album in the Netherlands since Edith Piaf in 1961. The last time a black woman was as visible in pop music was in 2004, with Lynsha's single "Hommes...Femmes".

Nakamura has received a huge backlash, mostly due to misogynoir—misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles. From a French presenter butchering her African first name despite the fact that he can easily pronounce words like "Aliagas", to online trolls calling her ugly and manly when a picture of her wearing no makeup surfaced, to people complaining that she is bringing down the quality of the entire French pop music industry, Nakamura responds to her critics gracefully. Her music is not groundbreaking but her album is full of catchy songs with lyrics using French slang she masters so well that she came up with her own words like "en catchana" (aka doggy style sex). And most importantly, many black girls and women can finally see someone like them in the media getting the success she deserves.

The Nobel Prize Winner

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another Black French woman has broken records this year: the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé who won the Alternative Nobel Prize, a prize meant to replace the Nobel Prize in Literature, after the scandal that the Swedish Academy of Literature faced last year. Condé wrote her first novel at only 11 years old and has been prolific ever since. A former professor of French literature at Columbia University, she has published more than 20 books since the 1970s, exploring the complex relationships within the African diaspora. "Segu", her most famous novel, is about the impact of the slave trade and Abrahamic religion on the Bambara empire in Mali in the 19th century. Condé's work is radical and she remains committed to writing feminist texts exploring the link between gender, race and class, as well as exploring the impact of colonialism. Condé is a pillar of Caribbean literature and it's taken long enough for her work has been acknowledged by the Nobel prize committee.

The Children's Books Writers

From Comme un Million de Papillon Noir

And finally, 2018 has been the year where France's children's literature industry has finally understood how important, for the public, writers and publishers, being inclusive and diverse was. From Laura Nsafou's Comme un Million de Papillon Noir, a best selling book about a young black girl learning to love her natural hair which sold more than 6000 copies, to Neiba Je-sais-tout: Un Portable dans le Cartable, the second book of Madina Guissé published this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign, there are more and more children's and young adult books with non white protagonists. In France, there are still no stats about how diversity is doing, but in America, in 2017, only 7 percent of writers of children's literature were either Black, Latino or Native American.

There's still much to accomplish in France for the Black community to have better representation in the media, politics and all walks of life, but important strides have been accomplished this year, and it make me hopeful for what 2019 and the following years have in store.

News

J Hus Has Been Sentenced to Eight Months in Jail for Knife Possession

The rapper has been convicted following an arrest in June.

Gambian-Biritish grime rapper J Hus has been sentenced to eight months in prison for knife possesion, reports BBC News.

The artist, neé Momodou Jallow, was arrested in Stratford London in June when police pulled him over near a shopping center, claming that they smelled cannabis. Police officers asked Hus if he was carrying anything illegal, to which the rapper admitted that he had a 10cm folding knife in his possession. When asked why, he responded: "You know, it's Westfield."

Hus pleaded guilty at a hearing in October after initially pleading not guilty.

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