TBB Talks To… Rising Star Actor and Playwright Temi Majekodunmi

After acclaimed performances at The Golden Goose Theatre and Theatre Peckham…

This February Temi Majekodunmi brings his one-man play The Life of Olu to Soho Theatre. A whirlwind navigation of teenage life, The Life of Olu introduces audiences to Olu’s world: a world beyond the walls of the Roundwood Estate filled with dreams of getting into Oxford University, panic attacks and the goddess Kelly Rowland.

TBB spoke to Temi to find out more…

Please introduce yourself…

I’m Temi, sometimes known as ‘Tems’ no association with the singer(although she seems like a vibe). I’m 100% Nigerian. I’m a storyteller, sometimes I write them and sometimes I act in them. 

Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now.

I love questions like this, it’s like what would my album be called… It would be called ‘Transition’.

You’re both a playwright and an actor – have you always done both, or did one come before the other?

I think writing came first, at home we have this huge bookcase full of books so I’d read a lot. I started writing summaries of books I wanted to turn into novels. It probably runs in the blood, my granddad wrote a couple of novels too. Acting came during GCSE times, I’ve never stopped since then.

You’ve previously been part of various writing schemes, including the Kiln Young Writers Programme and Soho Writers’ Lab. What’s the most useful piece of playwriting advice that you’ve learned to date?

Write what you want to write, not what you think other people will like. 

So, let’s talk about The Life of Olu. Is this your first play? How did you come about writing it?

I wrote a 10 min short play with Kiln Theatre but this is like my first full-length play. It started at drama school, I really wanted to follow in the footsteps of people like Kayode Ewumi and Michaela Coel who wrote and starred in their own stuff. I wrote the first 5 pages with a couple of characters and read it to my friends and it was well-received. Shortly after corona happened, we were due to have a festival at drama school where you could share anything you wanted. I used this opportunity to share the first iteration of The Life of Olu. It was only 5 minutes long but it was something. After that, I went full steam ahead writing it into a full piece and then sending it to theatres to see what they thought. After a couple of lockdowns, I got to perform it for the first time at the Golden Goose [Theatre].

The Life of Olu examines the difficulties of navigating teenage life – how far is the play based on your own experiences as a teenager?

It’s based a lot on my own experiences but most of the time it is my own experience heightened and made dramatic for the stage. The characters are people I met along the way growing up in NW.

Writing a play about a character’s teenage years, of course, you now have the benefit of hindsight. If you could talk to your teenage self, what advice would you give?

Probably to have more self-belief, there was a lot of time doubting and not doing. I wondered how much different I might be if there was more confidence when I was a teenager.

The Life of Olu was previously performed at The Golden Goose Theatre and Theatre Peckham – has anything in the show changed for this new performance at Soho Theatre?

Right now we’re in rehearsals polishing and building on the foundation we’ve already made. Making sure these jokes really hit and making sure the audience connects the character as a human.

What do you hope audiences take away from The Life of Olu?

That there isn’t a typical Black boy, to always find laughter in the most serious situations. And to always have hope, hope is a big theme in the play.

Have you got any other projects on the horizon that you’re excited about?

I’m excited about being in Soho Writers Lab. I’m due to write a full-length play before the end of the year with them.  Also, I’m hell-bent on turning The Life of Olu into a TV show. I’ve written the script. It’s just at the stage where it’s boiling on the stove, waiting until it’s perfect to be served.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

  • A book you have to have in your collection? 

Can I be cheeky and add a play in play? A Kind of People by Gupreet Kaur Bhatti and book would be Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

  • A song / album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? 

Right now it’s Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged album. She speaking the truth!

  • A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly?

Too hard to pick one TV show I’ve got three: How I May Destroy You, Insecure & Ramy.

  • The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance or concert)? 

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I saw this at sixth form with my drama class. It was really my first awakening to theatre, I had so much respect for actors for creating this world that I could get lost in for the duration of the play.

  • What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week? 

Sad- Nothing really made me sad funnily enough.

Mad- People walking too slow in central London.

Glad- Seeing actors that look like me perform on stage (I saw A Troubled Mind at The National)


The Life of Olu plays at Soho Theatre on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd February. Book tickets and find out more here.

You can keep up with Temi on his socials – Twitter | Instagram 

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