As the rain hits the roof of a images studio on an industrial property in South East London, two younger British actors are planning to take over the world. Stephen Odubola is making an attempt to influence Micheal Ward that he ought to transfer to Los Angeles. Like every good British chat, it begins with the climate, however that is no small speak.
“You will love it. The weather is good there and it’s like the home of the film industry, Hollywood’s there. It’s where you want to be,” he says.
“I need to go there first,” replies Ward. “I need to go and see if it’s LA or New York. I might not like it, but I feel like I was destined to be in America.”
The speak of future is catching. “I see this film as being the first step there. I know I’m on a bigger track to where I want to be. That’s the goal,” says Odubola.
“One hundred per cent,” says Ward. “It’s every actor’s dream to end up in Hollywood. I know for a fact that everything’s going to be coming soon.”
If you be taught that each actors are exactly one movie into their appearing careers, it may sound smug; they’re not solely plotting a transfer to America, however plan to let LA and New York battle it out for his or her affections. However that is no atypical movie, and these are not any atypical actors.
OUTFIT CREDITS | (LEFT) Go well with: Edward Sexton, Roll Neck: Reiss, Sneakers: Grenson, Watch: Mannequin’s Personal (RIGHT) Go well with And Pocket Sq.: Edward Sexton, Roll Neck: Daks, Trainers: Veja, Watch: Mannequin’s Personal
They’re joint leads in Blue Story, the story of two schoolboy buddies, Timmy (Odubola) and Marco (Ward), who stay on council estates in several components of South London – Deptford and Peckham – and whose lives turn into sophisticated, to say the least, by a postcode struggle between gangs within the two districts.
The movie – additionally a primary for writer-director, Rapman, aka Andrew Onwubolu, who primarily based it on his personal childhood in Deptford – is gathering warmth sooner than an asteroid coming into Earth’s environment. It’d simply be probably the most vital British image of 2019, and these males are its undisputed champions. So somewhat confidence is allowed.
“We like to describe it as a modern Romeo and Juliet,” says Ward, referring to Rapman’s ‘signature’ rap narration of the movie which provides it a Shakespearean flavour. “But instead of a love between a male and a female, it’s a love between brothers. The rapping gives it a USP. This is history. It’s going to be the first of its kind and it’s going to do numbers.”
Nearly from nowhere, the three males are gatecrashing the bigtime. Nearly. Rapman made his title with the favored three-part YouTube drama Shiro’s Story earlier than being taken below Jay-Z’s Roc Nation umbrella and having this, his first characteristic, launched by Paramount. Our stars have put the work in, too, having caught the appearing bug at college and finding out the artwork ever since. Every had precisely the identical easy however efficient philosophy: discover one thing they take pleasure in and make a residing from it.
For Odubola, 23, it is a display screen debut of any variety, however Ward, 24, has a couple of strains on his IMDb web page. After signing for an company, he entered “a kind of spiral” of auditions, small roles, brief movies and music movies earlier than touchdown his first TV present, Netflix horror The A-Record, in 2018.
A 12 months later, he joined the forged of long-running and mightily-acclaimed Prime Boy for its third season. One other Netflix present, it’s set on a fictional housing property in East London, is backed by Drake and stars Kane Robinson (aka Kano) and Ashley Walters (aka Asher D). It offers with crime however is about an awesome deal extra. The identical goes for Blue Story.
OUTFIT CREDITS | (LEFT) Go well with: Thom Sweeney, Shirt: Gieves & Hawkes, Watch: Mannequin’s Personal (RIGHT) Go well with: Richard James, Zipped Prime: Topman, Vest: David Gandy @ Marks & Spencer, Chain: Gucci, Watch: Mannequin’s Personal
There’s crime. There’s violence, too. However at its coronary heart of the movie you’ll discover these age-old themes of loyalty (merited and misplaced), love, satisfaction, revenge, hope, friendship, the trials of youth and masculinity. It’s common, but additionally particular to the individuals who stay in that world. Individuals like Odubola, who grew up on a council property in Kennington, additionally in South London.
“It was similar to how Timmy grew up,” he says. “It was powerful, man. You get uncovered to numerous issues and, as a young person, you’re nonetheless looking for your self as an individual, as a person. I can relate to rather a lot within the story. Sure scenes and emotions like friendship, peer strain, psychological well being states. Not lots of people actually get our tales, so I’m simply glad that this displays the lifetime of so many individuals rising up on a council property.
Odubola is extra softly spoken than Ward, however on this topic he speaks with intent and readability. These communities are a big, vibrant and essential a part of British tradition and but are painted negatively by the vast majority of each the press and the humanities. See a younger black man within the information and there’s probability he’ll be a sufferer or a perpetrator of against the law. Or he may be a ‘cocky’ footballer splashing his cash on ridiculous issues like, say, a pleasant home for his mum.
“Once I determined I wished to be an actor, I didn’t actually need to be in something associated to city life as a result of lots of people don’t painting it correctly. Once I learn the script I noticed an actual story that hasn’t been informed earlier than. I needed to get entangled as a result of it’s the reality. That’s all I wished to be concerned in, the reality.”
Ward was born in Jamaica earlier than transferring to the leafy (nicely, leafy-ish) East London suburban city of Romford as a toddler. Even he – who could be seen by means of the identical prejudicial lens as any younger black man – had a skewed view of Blue Story’s world.
“The media like to demonise these people,” he says. “They don’t know what leads them to be in these situations or the aftermath. I didn’t even know. The script was a revelation to me. I used to think, ‘What’s wrong with these people?’ But you don’t understand. That’s why these stories are so important: it’s educating me, it’s educating you.”
The violence and risks confronted by, particularly, younger black males in working class areas can’t be ignored. They actually aren’t in Blue Story. Violent acts are central to the plot and, as tends to occur with such acts, issues don’t prove nicely.
With the nation in what appears like a fug of despair and optimism in brief provide, it makes you surprise if issues can get any higher – if there’s hope on the market for younger individuals surrounded by pressures, prejudice and dangers. The excellent news is, each Ward and Odubola are brimming with hope. Confidence of youth meets confidence in youth.
“A thousand per cent,” says Ward. “I believe we’re going to a place where there are a lot more opportunities and directions that people can see themselves going in. People used to think, ‘I want to be on TV’. Now it could be director, cameraman. People from our world don’t realise these opportunities are out there, but now we can ask friends, ‘Have you ever thought about being a sound guy? A writer?”
“There are ways of stimulating someone’s mind to think wider and I feel like this is the time for it. There’s more content being made, which means more opportunities.”
They two are actually taking advantage of the alternatives afforded by Blue Story. They’ve attended awards exhibits, premieres and now they’re on a photoshoot sporting designer fits.
Ward has been modelling since his teenagers, however they each have a look at residence right here. Slender, athletic, handsome males, items cling on them like they’re supposed to hold. However the garments we’ve put them in at this time aren’t their ordinary type. Odubola loves a potent sweatshirt, whereas Ward likes his garments with quantity, “like my personality”.
“One of my favourite outfits I’ve worn was at the BET Awards,” he says. “It was this pink Casablanca look. Double denim. It was sick, man.”
On the identical time, they’re additionally very conscious that alternatives for black actors to get good roles are restricted, and that this drawback is exacerbated should you’re working class. Any success for the celebrities and makers of issues like Blue Story and Prime Boy must be cherished.
Not that the humanities or some other business ought to bear the load of making an attempt to even up society; we’ve got a authorities that’s supposed to try this. However, as each males level out, a movie like this will result in a larger understanding of points similar to knife crime, which in London reached a nine-year excessive in 2019.
OUTFIT CREDITS | Jacket: John Lewis, Jumper: Arket, Trousers: Reiss, Hat: Lock & Co, Sneakers: Grenson
“I feel like the film is going to create awareness and might change some people’s lives,” says Odubola. “There are factors that we as filmmakers can’t control. Communities need to step up and create more opportunities for these young kids as well.”
Ward provides: “It’s not going to occur in a single day. When the film comes out, perhaps 10 individuals out of 1,000 would possibly take this message critically and put down the knives or search for alternatives, however at the very least that’s 10. And in one other 12 months it might be one other 10. All these tens would add up. I do know for a undeniable fact that we’re going to enhance as a result of we will’t keep on going like this. It’s ridiculous.
“Masculinity is unquestionably in concern. In some conditions, it may all be solved by communication, being mature and simply letting your satisfaction go. A number of males don’t like to try this. That’s comprehensible, however on the identical time, was all of it value it?”
With such appearing chops, Ward and Odubola’s confidence in their very own futures is nicely positioned. You may solely think about a really sharp upward curve of their profession trajectories and fame ranges as soon as Blue Story, as Ward says, does numbers. After that?
OUTFIT CREDITS | (LEFT) Coat: Scabal, Knitwear: Edward Sexton, Trousers: Reiss, Scarf: Lou Dalton, Trainers: Harry’s of London, Sun shades: Oliver Spencer (RIGHT) Coat: Scabal, Shirt: Drakes, Knitwear: Dashing Tweeds, Frames: Ace & Tate
“I want to emulate Kevin Hart,” says Ward. “He’s inspired me. What he’s done, created history, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to be a legend. The only way you can be a legend is if you create history.”
“I’d love to go into different parts of the industry, to direct maybe. I’d love to produce a film, have my name on big projects. Those are all aspirations that I know I’ll be able to achieve, but all in due time. I see the vision and it’s just about chasing that.”
Aiming low once more, then.
“Talking about being a legend,” says Odubola, “I don’t know what cause I’d want to help, but eventually, when I’m at a certain place I’d want to branch out and help other people. If you’ve got power and you’ve got a platform you might as well use it for the advantage of other people.”
Confidence is a robust factor: confidence in your self and in others. It may possibly nudge us ahead when it’s simpler to face nonetheless or retreat. It may possibly result in nice issues, it could result in silly issues, but it surely does at the very least make us do these issues.
It’s wager that these males will do issues that can breed confidence in others who, in flip, will do issues that breed confidence and so forth. Then, perhaps, a unique circle can start.
Blue Story (@BlueStoryMovie, @ParamountUK) is in cinemas November 22.
Photographer: Kirk Truman
Artwork course: Luke Sampson
Stylist: Sarah Ann Murray
Stylist assistants: Bethany Parkinson and Jess Gwyneth
Grooming: Keshia East