‘It’s not the flashiest part of London but it has the richest mix of people’

I was on Heywood Avenue when I got the call from Rada telling me I’d got into drama school. I’d decided I was going to go to university and get a proper job. At the last minute, I had an epiphany while I was in a school play and decided I wanted to be an actor. 

I didn’t have enough money to apply to drama schools. You’re supposed to apply to six or seven and we only had enough money to apply to two. This was in 1998, when only 17 boys out of the 2,000 who applied each year would get in, and only one of those boys would be Black. All the odds were against me. When I got the call saying I’d got in, while I was walking around the Grahame Park estate, it was surreal. I thought: Wow, my entire life is going to change. 

That was a huge moment, but so much of my life has played out on the streets of north-west London, because that’s where I spent most of my life growing up. As a mixed Black African and white British person, I loved growing up in a place where there’s such a cornucopia of cultures, be it Caribbean, West African, Somalian or white British. It’s not the flashiest part of London, but it has the richest mix of cultures and people. 

O-T Fagbenle is in ‘Black Widow’, opening in cinemas July 9.

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