Next to feature in our #AdaptToSucceed campaign is British Hollywood actor and star of new sci-fi thriller Life (view the trailer here), alongside Jake Gyllenhall and Ryan Reynolds, Ariyon Bakare. Best known for his roles in British series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Dancing On The Edge, and Hollywood movie Jupiter Ascending, Ariyon has worked hard to join the growing influence of home-grown talent in the US. Learn about his motivations as we hang out with Ariyon in London’s Soho and South Bank.
What motivates you to succeed?
When I get a role I love unpicking the puzzle of the script and then putting it back together. No two pieces fit in exactly the same way as the writer intended. Each actor has their own intention and story to add to the mix. Each director has his own vision and then every department have their own amazing skills to make that picture better than the writer could ever imagine. I love the Camaraderie, the passing on of the script baton to the next player in the story and watching it manifest into the spectacular event that you hope moves audiences. The end product is the best motivation.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
Each job requires you to give a little bit more of yourself and dig that little bit deeper. Sometimes that can be the biggest challenge of all, accessing that part of your psyche that might have laid dormant for many years, for good reason. I mean when I cry it’s really ME crying. I guess the other battle is trying to ignore the voices in your head that tell you that there is always someone younger, better looking and more talented just around the corner and sit with the confidence that no one can do what you do better and that’s why you’re playing that role. Acting is challenging but when you hit the sweet spot is the most rewarding job in the world.
How have you adapted to succeed?
By being less brutal to myself: I no longer take every rejection as criticism of myself or my abilities, which in the early days I think I did quite a bit. Once I realised that there were so many other factors in landing a role I was able to take my foot off the pedal and enjoy the long game and watch my career play out.
"Be open to leap out of your comfort zone with ease and grace"
How much further do you have/want to go?
Acting has no limits! My future growth as an actor is down to dedication and resilience. I've always seen my last job as if it were the last job and when the next job comes along its as if it were the first job. It’s my way of keeping it fresh, staying current and never taking this amazing craft for granted. There are so many roles that I haven’t had the chance to play, so many directors I’d love to work with. On each film set I find myself zoning in on every aspect of film-making. Maybe one day I’ll expand to directing, screenwriting or even producing. I love storytelling in all formats; in my craft the possibilities of achieving that are endless, though seemingly impossible.
What piece of advice would you give to a young actor starting off?
I could say the obvious; go to drama school, find an agent etc. but the best advice I got from a director was to read plays, learn history, challenge yourself daily; mentally and physically. Have fun!! Read fiction, read autobiographies and read history books. Watch plays, watch films. Dance. Yoga. Immerse yourself in all art forms. Observe the world and then question it. Be open to leap out of your comfort zone with ease and grace. Learn to be in touch with your emotions and then how to control them. Remember it’s business that you’re in control off, so be patient and learn to ride the down times. READ, READ AND READ.
Ariyon wears: Colonies Knit Merino Vine.
Describe your personal style?
I love simple muted tones; simple silhouettes with an edgy, classic twist. I’m a leather boot man more than trainers but still own several pairs. I have to be pressed to wear bright colours but I’m always surprised when I do and how good it looks.
Photography by Michael Drummond.