October 26, 2016
By Iman Sadri
At 19 years of age Carl Akajiobi has already built a formidable resume in modeling and acting, while most kids his age are out partying or playing video games or figuring out their life. But not Carl Akajiobi. He has already figured out his life’s path. A “Destiny in Hollywood” as he calls it. Akajiobi is a model and actor based in Orange County, California. Despite his tender age he has big plans for his future and appears to already be on his way of fulfilling his date with destiny. Akajiobi has been featured in multiple ad campaigns, performed in a myriad of theatrical productions and has played the lead in an award winning short film. He has amassed 99,000 Instagram followers and a cult following on multiple social media platforms. His family is from Lagos, Nigeria. But Carl was born and raised in America. Despite never having lived in Nigeria, Carl has achieved a mythical type status in Africa. With his 6’3 frame, chiseled features and poised demeanor, Akajiobi is a “movie star” in the making. Some of the independent films he has been featured in include but are not limited to, Dad Dudes, Project Fuse, Luke, No Where to Go But Up and Deadball.
We caught up with Carl Akajiobi for a Q+A earlier this month in Buena Park, California.
Iman Sadri : Thanks for meeting with Persian Media. What age did you start acting ?
Carl Akajiobi: It’s good to be with you guys. I started performing when I was in the 3rd grade. I started singing in talent shows around the age of 9. I was doing school plays, and Christmas specials and different seasonal plays.
IS: What are some of the plays and productions that were your favorites as a youth ?
Carl Akajiobi: I would say Romeo and Juliet and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.
IS: What inspired you to act ?
Carl Akajiobi: Watching an actress named Gene Tierney. She was an actress from the 1940s to the 1960s. She was very beautiful. I started watching her films. She inspired me. Also Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. I fell in love with the Golden Age of Hollywood.
IS: How did you get exposure to these early movies ? Was it mostly Turner Classic Movies and films on Cable TV?
Carl Akajiobi: My friend’s dad had a bunch of old tapes. Also some of these films did come out on cable channels.
IS: Do you have any favorite TV shows ?
Carl Akajiobi: I like some of the older shows from the 1990’s such as Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210.
IS: What other actors and actresses inspired you ?
Carl Akajiobi: In the Golden Age of Hollywood I really liked Dorothy Lamour. With more contemporary actresses I like Susan Sarandon.
IS: What are some of your favorite films ?
Carl Akajiobi: I like Stairway to Heaven and Grease. I am a fan of John Travolta.
IS: What are some of your favorite genres of film ?
Carl Akajiobi: I am into romantic comedies right now.
IS: What types of roles do you see yourself as being your optimum self ?
Carl Akajiobi: I can play many different genres. I would have to say horror film roles are some of my favorites. I can play just about any character. Romatic Comedies. SciFi. Dramas.
“I can play many different genres. I would have to say horror film roles are some of my favorites.”
IS: Do you get to read scripts of previous films that you like ?
Carl Akajiobi: Yes, actually recently I read the scripts for two old James Dean films. One called Giant. And the script for Rebel Without A Cause.
IS: If you could have lunch with any actor, living or alive who would you choose ?
Carl Akajiobi: I would definitely have to say Gene Tierney.
IS: Are there any television actors that you would want to meet ?
Carl Akajiobi: I would have to say Jason Priestley. I really relate to his Brandon Walsh character on 90210. For movie actors I like Chris Pine.
IS: Are there any shows on television today that you like ?
Carl Akajiobi: I like Law and Order.
IS: What are roles from older films or shows that you would have liked to have played ?
Carl Akajiobi: I like Scream. I feel like I could do a good job with my own version on that. Also Criminal Minds. I could play Spencer on that show.
IS: After you are done acting in a part is it hard to get out of character ?
Carl Akajiobi: When I am acting it gets me on a personal level. When I am doing a sad scene I can become depressed in real life. Then again I have to try and stay sane. It can take a toll. When I am acting I am becoming the character. Either on stage or on set it becomes a part of you.
“When I am acting it gets me on a personal level.”
IS: Do you think all actors are affected on some level and find it hard letting go of character after filming or doing a play ?
Carl Akajiobi: Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire, for example, played a sad character. And he did great in that movie. But I read that it did affect him. He didn’t want to be sad after the shoot. But it affected him because he really immersed himself in the character.
IS: How did you know you were supposed to be an actor ?
Carl Akajiobi: It’s just something you feel deep down.
IS: What are some of your hobbies that you are passionate about ?
Carl Akajiobi: I play basketball. I can shoot, dribble pretty well, and dunk. I am 6’3, but I can dunk pretty easily. I used to dunk in games. I played in a travel league. We were sponsored by Adidas. I was known more for my basketball skills. I also do yoga. I play tennis. I do photography.
IS: What’s your schedule now ?
Carl Akajiobi: I am attending Fullerton College, taking acting classes. And doing roles in different independent films.
IS: Are there any Nigerian familial influences that you can reflect on ?
Carl Akajiobi: For many Nigerians education is very important. My parents stress to me the importance of a college education. They want me to have that degree. My parents worked really hard for us here.
IS: What is the chronology of the films you’ve been in ?
Carl Akajiobi: So far I have been in films, Dad Dudes. Luke. No Where to Go But Up where I played the lead.
IS: Can you elaborate on No Where to Go But Up ?
Carl Akajiobi: The character’s name is Travis. He decides to leave home to start a new life. He wants to be independent. It’s hard for a college kid with no job. He tries to get a scholarship. He takes college classes. One of his professors notices that he is wearing the same clothes all the time. He shaves in the school restroom. He sees pillows in his backpack. The professor becomes curious. The professor finds Travis sleeping in his car one day. The next day in class Travis turns in an assignment and the professor realizes that he is an intelligent guy. He then helps him get referral for colleges.
IS: What’s the key to memorizing lines ?
Carl Akajiobi: I have always been good at memorizing lines since I was a kid. It started out being good at memorizing numbers. I then transitioned to words. I can probably still say the lines from a role a month ago. To me it’s not about actually memorizing lines, it’s about trying to persuade the audience with what I am saying. I want it to affect the audience as much as it is affecting me. People that think too much forget what they’re going to say. Anyone can spit out the lines, but it’s about becoming the character.
IS: What career would you pursue if you weren’t an actor ?
Carl Akajiobi: I always wanted to be a pilot. I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly a plane.
IS: What would be your ideal long term career goal in Hollywood ?
Carl Akajiobi: To be a film actor and director. Also I’d like to produce.
IS: What was your key to building your Instagram following, having almost 100 thousands followers ?
Carl Akajiobi: I started posting memes. I established myself early when Instagram came out. At that time I was able to post memes that people could relate to in the Black community. I guess I got lucky. I have a lot of fans who are 13 or 14. I am starting to transition to older fans in their early 20’s. I have a lot of international fans. In Dubai. In Nigeria. I don’t want to sound conceded, but I think a lot of it has to do with my looks. I am starting to get a following where I have different fan pages and fake accounts of me.
IS: What’s you 5 year plan ?
Carl Akajiobi: I want to be making films five years from now. I feel that it’s about destiny. I feel destined to be on the road I am on. Everything just seems to come really easily to me. I’d like to direct and star in my own films.
“I want to be making films five years from now. I feel that it’s about destiny. I feel destined to be on the road I am on.”
IS: What’s next for you ?
Carl Akajiobi: I am going to be auditioning for independent films.
IS: Are there some future roles you’d like to audition for in upcoming feature films ?
Carl Akajiobi: I know that they are making a Green Lantern remake. I’d like to audition for that. Several of my teachers have mentioned how I would be a good super hero.
Follow Carl Akajiobi on Instagram @CarlNaka
Iman Sadri is the founder of @HollywoodSmleTV and writes for Persian Media outlets.