Earlier this year, the Oscars race row dominated headlines and put diversity in Hollywood back on global agenda. Now, British actor and director Femi Oyeniran has said that it isn't only the US struggling with inaccurate depictions.
Speaking to IBTimes UK, the Anuvahood star− whose crime thriller, The Intent, hits cinemas on 29 July− said that there needed to be more films that are representative of the British working class. "The films don't have to be like The Intent, Kidulthood or Adulthood. I want us to make a broad range of films. I have made two films within different genres intentionally comedy and now an action thriller," he said.
Discussing his latest project, the actor said that he was spurred by a desire to create a film akin to cult classics In Too Deep (1999) and Paid in Full (2002).
"We took elements of all those films to create this film. We were inspired by Hype Williams' visual style as exemplified by Belly as well as the fact that he casted the biggest rappers of the day DMX and Nas in lead roles," he said. " Some elements of our story is inspired by Juice − such as the corner shop robbery, and our lead character HOODZ is informed by Tupac's bishop."
Oyeniran, who is now stepping out of the acting world, wrote and produced the film with Nicky Slimting Walker."The film follows the story of people who are reluctant to get into street life in the same way as Paid in Full. And ultimately, In Too Deep inspired us as we have a police officer who delves too deep like Omar Epps. These 90s/ early 00s classics inspired us to create this film."
Fan can also expect appearances from grime duo Krept and Konan , which Oyeniran says were "a complete joy to work with".
While some may recoil at the thought of their film being likened to another, Oyeniran welcomes the comparisons between Noel Clarke's Kidulthood and Adulthood, the British drama films that gave him his big break. The third installment of the British drama film will be released on 29 August. He said: "I think it's a good thing to have two (Brotherhood) UK films coming out at the same time. This has never happened before. For us to be compare to Brotherhood is amazing. They are backed by one of the biggest distributors in the world, Lionsgate − we are completely independent. We are chuffed by the comparison people are making."
Know who you are
The Taking Stock actor, who was born in Nigeria, revealed that he was working to combat the negative stereotypes of young black men. "I'm a young black man raised on a council estate. I emigrated to England as a 10 year old. I read Law at one of the best universities in the world, London School of Economics. I have released two feature films theatrically in three years – one of them independently, " he explained. "We have to challenge negative stereotypes everyday through our actions. It doesn't matter what people say about you as long as you know who you are!"
Oyeniran previously co-directed comedy It A LOT, which is still available on Netflix. The actor admitted that he finds it a lot easier acting than directing. "I love both but I would say acting is easier as you have to worry about less things. You just have to turn up and be a good actor, whereas producing/directing/writing takes a lot more time and you have more responsibilities," he said.