Shawn Faqua: My faith has helped me deal with fame

Shawn Faqua is an actor, producer, director, model, and public speaker who has appeared in over 80 films and television shows. He has received over ten nominations, including the African Movie Academy Award for Best Young Actor in 2014, the Golden Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2017, and the African Movie Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy in 2022. In 2012, Faqua earned a Certificate in Acting from the Nollywood Upgrade Training, which was affiliated with the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University. In 2016, he also attended Relativity School in Los Angeles. He is the creator of Riverbank Media, a media and advertising production company. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, he discusses his objective to encourage industry ethics and collaboration.

Tell us about your journey into performing. What, in your opinion, prepared you for the craft?
My narrative is purely a matter of chance. I mistakenly strolled into a place where an open audition session had just ended, and the director/producer who (I had no idea who he was at the time) spotted me approaching exclaimed, “I’ve found my actor.” Life had prepared me for the craft, but I still needed professional training since talent is never enough. As my father always said, ‘everything worth doing is worth doing well.’

You’ve appeared in projects for Netflix, Prime Amazon, and Africa Magic. How have these aided your development?
Aside from the fact that it feels fantastic to have your work seen and loved all across the world, audience criticism can occasionally help enlighten on how believable each character is or is not. These worldwide platforms are shaping not only my acting abilities, but also the storylines that come out of Africa, and I believe we have only scratched the surface.

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What roles are you looking forward to playing?
Roles that frighten and challenge me, as well as those that allow me to modify and develop or block neural pathways. Every actor’s aim and aspiration, as well as the pinnacle of craftsmanship, is to be able to smoothly and convincingly exit character. So I’m looking forward to doing a biopic next, and I’m already thinking about it.

Do you resemble Denzel Washington in any way? If so, except from your natural ability to play any character, how else do you feel akin?
He is a man of profound Christian faith, in addition to being an amazing actor whom I greatly admire. He’s a man who loves his family deeply and has mastered the art of keeping his personal life quiet.

Is there anyone in your filmography who you wish you hadn’t played?
There are none! Every single film has helped mould me into a stronger actor on my path to greatness.

Our local and international stars make us proud in films like The Woman King. Do you anticipate further collaborations between Nollywood and Hollywood?
There will be a lot more of this. The African culture is highly rich and diverse, yet it has not been fully explored. Hollywood wants us, our stories from ages ago that make for a good story. The history of the black race has to be one of the best-selling storylines, just like “Wakanda” so clearly. As projected, the frequency will increase.

In Nollywood, your Christian religion is widely rumored. What role does your faith have in your film career?
It has really aided me in not losing my identity to the various characters that I have to embody, as well as the temptations that come with being a showbiz part of the film industry. My faith has helped me deal with stardom and the excesses that often accompany it.

What are you currently working on, and what can we expect from you in the future?
Currently working on a feature called ‘Take My Breath Away’. So far, it appears promising.

How would you describe your personal style?
I am a traditional man who believes that style should be ageless in order to remain relevant through different times and seasons.

What exactly does fashion mean to you?
Comfort is synonymous with fashion. I would select comfy clothes any day, because I am constantly on the move and cannot afford to be burdened by the weight of clothing. I need to be able to move as quickly as I want.

What is your go-to outfit?
My favorite clothing as a true reflection of African culture and heritage have to be white traditional ensembles. I always feel divine in these.

What’s your favorite regional dish?
Pounded yam and white soup, also known as Afang soup. I enjoy doing this anytime I have the chance.

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What are the most important lessons you’ve learned so far?
Being actively kind, grateful, and giving flowers to deserving individuals while they are still alive. A citation is more beautiful than a eulogy.

In three words, describe Faqua.
Intentional, caring, and wise.

What are some unusual hobbies you enjoy?
I enjoy playing lawn tennis, soccer, and dancing, which was and still is my first love.

What changes in the industry do you wish to see?
True African stories; we have the power to shape how the world views our dear African continent; our culture is vast and rich, and I believe it is underutilized. I am extremely thrilled about the upcoming synergy in terms of partnerships between Hollywood and Nollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood, and other ‘woods’ from across the world. We hope for greater finance, more investors interested in film, better equipment to work with, and ongoing and progressive craftmanship from crew and cast, all of which will result in a multitude of intentional and fruitful body of works.

What is your life philosophy?
What you give or sow is what you will reap, therefore give love and you will undoubtedly receive it in full measure. Love always triumphs.

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