Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù has opened up about ‘giving a voice to the voiceless’ and playing a young refugee in Netflix horror, His House.
The 30-year-old stars as Bol Majur in Remi Weekes’ flick – starring opposite Wunmi Mosaku and Matt Smith – which focuses on a young couple who come to the UK from South Sudan, but struggle to adapt to life in England and are met with racist remarks from their neighbours.
After a harrowing journey to London, they find that the home they have been placed in is haunted by an evil spirit, but due to strict rules on immigrants and the threat of deportation, they are unable to move.
Ṣọpẹ’s portrayal of Bol has been praised by viewers and critics alike, with the role earning him a coveted nomination on the EE Bafta rising star list – alongside Kingsley Ben-Adir, Bukky Bakray, Conrad Khan and Morfydd Clark, with the winner voted for by the public.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk ahead of the awards, he explained that being given the opportunity to tell the story of people who are often not given a voice, and are simply reduced to a statistic, was a huge honour.
‘It was a great privilege, if I’m honest. It was a great privilege to give a voice to those who are often voiceless and it was like talking to people who are often talked about, and reduced to statistics, and dehumanised by a lot of right wing media especially,’ he told us.
Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù and Wunmi Mosaku stole the show in His House (Picture: YouTube)
‘So it was a great privilege and I felt a lot of responsibility in telling the story. Also, in terms of the immigrant narrative, I felt a lot of responsibility and a great honour to be able to try and express through our medium, what it is like to be not native to this land.
‘While we were born in the UK, there are many aspects of the country that like to remind us that we are not British, or we are not English, and I think there’s a lot of nuance in Remi’s storytelling that really taps into that feeling of being ‘othered’ in the country of your birth or not, or the country you forcibly migrated to.
‘That’s something that I’m really proud of, in terms of our storytelling. Remi really captured the immigrant experience and it’s great to be able to share that on such a large scale.’
Ṣọpẹ has been a fixture of the big and small screen for years, making his debut in Utopia in 2014 – with one of his most notable roles coming as Elliot in Gangs of London.
Ṣọpẹ has been tipped for Bafta success this month (Picture: YouTube)
Despite being part of some huge projects, he wasn’t expecting anywhere near the reaction that His House received – with the film currently commanding a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Touching on the response, he explained: ‘When things go on to Netflix, there’s a fear that they’re going to disappear. It was an indy-esque feature, and it was a very niche story as well. There was no guarantee that this is a story that people wanted to hear, but it was a story that was really important to tell.
‘So I think a lot of our energies were in that position, to be as truthful as we can, let’s tell the story to the best of our ability. Whatever happens after that happens after, but we want to be proud of the work that we’ve created and what we’ve achieved so far.
‘All these nominations started coming in and you’re just like, “Whoa, people actually watched our film, let alone thought it was great.” That was an entire surprise.
‘For it to be as recognised as it has been at the Baftas… it continues to overwhelm us how successful the film has been. And how many people are watching and engaging with such an important story, I think that is one of the greatest takeaways from this award season buzz.’
There certainly is a lot of buzz surrounding Ṣọpẹ, who has been tipped for the Bafta rising star award – with voting closing for the gong on Friday, ahead of the ceremony on April 11.
And he celebrated the nomination in the most 2021 way possible – by setting off on a lockdown-friendly stroll.
‘I went for a walk and then cleared my head to find out it it was real,’ he laughed. ‘I FaceTimed my family and we had a sing, they prayed for me because they’re very religious. I suppose I congratulated myself for how far I’ve come in my career so far, in a very relatively short amount of time.
‘I think I celebrated it by allowing myself to be proud of myself, because that’s all I could do so far.
‘Hopefully, come April 11, there’s something more to celebrate and I’ll figure out a way of doing that then, within Covid-19 protocols and government guidelines.’
Public voting for the EE Rising Star Award is available at ee.co.uk/BAFTA and the winner will be announced at the EE Baftas on Sunday April 11, 2021.
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