Interviewer: Dear readers, it is a pleasure for me to introduce Emmanuel Imani, Starring as a lead in the new British inde film, Invisible Men. The movie premiered on 21st September at the The British Urban Film Festival. The film explores the modern day crisis in the UK with immigration within the African Diaspora. A rising talent, Emmanuel has a lot of exciting film projects set for 2016.
A little Bio
Hailing from South London, British actor Emmanuel Imani launched his career in 2008 . His first debut was in theatre as part of the critically acclaimed play, ’A Thousand Miles of History’ directed by Harold Finley. The play followed the life of Jean-Michael Basquiat a transcending painter in 80s who would change the arts world forever. Emmanuel played a supporting role as Jean-Michael’s close friend/confident Fab 5 Freddy. Imani then went on to book his first feature film Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opposite Chris Pine. Here he plays a cheeky American Soldier named ‘Omar’ opposite Chris Pine’s Character ‘Jack Ryan’ who goes on to save Omar’s life in a spectacular helicopter crash scene. September 2015 will saw the release of Imani’s most recent work ‘Invisible Men’. Invisible Men is an independent feature film by Quayside Filmworks. Recently selected by The British Urban Film Festival and as Channel 4’s closing film. It’s a story of immigration, betrayal, family and new beginnings. January 2016 sees the launch of Emmanuel’s first Hollywood movie ‘Criminal’ where he acts as a CIA officer on screen with Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones. He is also about to film a new inde feature called Servants’ Quarters an ‘Aviary Films’ production.
Below is our three part interview
Part one – About Emmanuel
Interviewer: Who is Emmanuel Imani?
Emmanuel: I am a 25 year old Christian AfroBrit actor. I say Christian actor because for me personally this informs a lot of the work I do. It doesn’t limit me but causes me to be more creative in the work I both create and divulge in. I say AfroBrit because I’m an African British man and I also think AfroBrit sounds cool.
Interviewer: Oh yeah, AfroBrit sounds really cool.
Interviewer: So how did you get involved in acting?
Emmanuel: I was 17 when I decided that being an actor was the career path I wanted to go down. I started acting from as young as 6 – in schools plays. I recall playing King Herod in our primary school nativity play. This was probably the moment everyone else (my family/friends knew I had a thirst for Drama) but I knew when I turnt 17 and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else for the rest of my life – that acting was it for me.
Interviewer: What / who motivates you to act?
Emmanuel: I’m motivated mostly by movies and great TV. I have a monthly membership with a cinema so I tend to see every film. I also have a subscription to an internet television streaming site. I tend to watch a range of television programs and this too drives me to want to be an actor but not just a run of the mill actor. Whenever I watch TV shows or movies I usually struggle to turn off my critical eye and just enjoy the production but when something truly great comes along that moves me – I’m motivated. I’m motivated to want to do something amazing and to reach others in a similar way.
Part two – The Movie (Invisible Men)
Interviewer: Tell us about Invisible Men (the movie) and your character ‘Abbey’?
Emmanuel: Invisible Men is a film about immigration. Very current topic right now. It’s about men and women crossing the border in search of a better life. I play Abbey who is a young immigrant living in a crowded house full of other immigrants from all over Africa. My character invites a friend to London from Nigeria to make a better life for himself and realises that he has lost sight of who he once was. London has made him hard and in the end he becomes someone he would once have despised.
Interviewer: Do you think the movie is a true reflection of the modern day crisis in the UK with immigration within the African Diaspora?
Emmanuel: It’s an incredibly truthful and accurate depiction of the modern day ‘crisis’ but told from the point of view of those being badly or misrepresented. The immigrants never get to tell their story and so this piece is incredibly important as it’s the voice of the voiceless.
Interviewer: While filming the movie (Invisible Men) how were you impacted personally from the story that it’s portraying?
Emmanuel: I have an aunt that was deported early last year. I never got the chance to say goodbye to her which is something that still plagues (hoping to visit her later this year). My mother worked a lot while I was growing up so my aunt had a big hand in raising me. With something like this in the forefront of my mind it made the story all the more real and I felt a strong sense of duty to tell this story with as much truth as I possibly could.
Interviewer: Any advice to young Africans trying to move to Europe or the West to seek greener pastures?
Emmanuel: I would say to think very long and hard before making the leap. There are opportunities in Africa waiting to be discovered but at the same time it is quite possibly in God’s will for them to cross over to the West and seek new opportunities elsewhere. It’s a tough one but I think you must learn to thrive in your own back yard until that longer contains you, then and only then do you seek other opportunities elsewhere.
Part three – The future
Interviewer: What other types of movies would you be interested in filming?
Emmanuel: I am very much interested in scary movies; I have been for a while so when I got the part in my next project I was absolutely over the moon! I will be filming a scary movie next month called Servants’ Quarters so watch this space and get ready to be spooked!
Interviewer: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Emmanuel: I see myself creating more things. I would love the chance to change the face of British television. I feel as though we have more stories from different POVs to be told. For one I’d love to see more Asians on television as they are heavily underrepresented in British television.
Interviewer: Any advice to inspiring young actors?
Emmanuel: My one piece of advice is always to train somehow. I went to drama school to do a 3 year BA hons in acting and it was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life, now I understand drama school isn’t for everyone but there are various alternatives. You could do a part time course in shakespearean text, you could go to the actor’s studio, pinewood to take some cases – various options are available but training to me seems to be crucial.
Thank you and hope you enjoyed the interview.
Rising Africa team