Nigerian born Hollywood actor Dayo Okeniyi has always known it was acting for him all along although he had to joggle it with a career in advertising before deciding to take the plunge and risk all. Haven moved to Los Angeles, he took acting classes where a casting director Micheal Berry saw him performed. According to him things spiraled from there because three days later he was at his biggest audition ever, and the next two weeks saw him passing the audition to star in Hollywood blockbuster “Hunger Games” as “Thresh.”
A striking Nigerian actor and overwhelmingly full of life, he appeared in several elementary school theatrical productions before his family moved to the United States in 2003. At the insistence of his father, a customs officer, and his Kenyan mother, a literature teacher, Okeniyi earned his bachelor's degree in visual communications design in 2009. Following his dreams and telling his parents about his acting career via email, he was given a year to cut it in the industry, otherwise, he will have to come back home for his National Youth Service. “Hunger Games” gave him the much needed break at the peak of time.
Already, 2013 is looking good for Okeniyi with movies line up including “Spectacular Now,” and “Runner Runner” which features Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.
He was in Nigeria earlier this year and was interviewed by Ogaga Sakapide (Ogagus of Jaguda.com), here’s what Dayo Okeniyi had to say about his career, “Hunger Games,” his family, his favourite food and more.
Many of us have seen Hunger Games but never guessed that you were Nigerian, can you give me a crash course about your growing up and when did you move to Indiana?
My mother is Kenyan and father Nigerian and I grew up in Lagos even though I’m from Oyo State. I loved growing up in Lagos Nigeria, but I ended moving to the States in 2003 for academic reasons.
I am a foodie, so what’s your favourite Nigerian food?
Pounded yam and Egusi
When you were growing up, did you ever imagine yourself as an actor or think about taking acting as a serious career?
Absolutely yes… but in my final year in university, I decided to make that dream a reality.
You have a bachelor degree in Visual Communications, but did it help define your career path?
Going to university and getting a degree was me setting up a plan B in case acting didn’t work out. In fact, my design degree helped pay the bills when I got to L.A before I became a full time actor.
Prior your role as Tresh on Hunger Games have you had any other acting gigs?
Yes when I first started out in Hollywood, I did mostly short films like ‘Eyes to See’ and ‘Lion Amongs Men’ but ‘Hunger Games’ was my first big studio film.
How was the experience working on a high-budget movie which turned out to be a major blockbuster?
It was amazing, A God sent and extremely unforgettable experience. I feel blessed!
To read more about the interview with the Nigerian Hollywood superstar Dayo Okeniyi, click here
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