Fela! plays at the Fox in Atlanta from February 28 to March 3, 2013 and I got a one on one with Atlanta’s Duain Richmond who is living his dream as an actor. The interview got rather personal as he took my back to his beginnings and opened up about his mother’s determination, his twin brother’s support, his inspiration, and what working with Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams is really like! – Arthia NixonSierra Leone-born, Atlanta-raised and now nationally-known, Duain Richmond is the newest face of Fela! According to Richmond, it’s a dream come true as it will be the first time his family will see him live on stage when he hits Atlanta’s famous Fox Theater. And when he does take the stage in the lead role, he will be holding his own alongside a strong cast which includes Destiny’s Child member and gospel chart-topper Michelle Williams.
Fela! is a musical set in the late 1970’s, based on events in the life of groundbreaking Nigerian composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It portrays Kuti in the days when he was the target of 1,000 government soldiers assigned to end his public performances at the legendary Lagos nightclub The Shrine.
Having earned the lead role, Richmond is officially living his dream. It’s a dream that began with a journey a little over 20 years ago when the grandmother who raised him and his twin brother Dwight one day sent them to New York to a mother who finally saved enough money to get the visas needed to bring her children to a better life before the civil war fueled by the diamond trade ignited the nation.
“I was nine years-old and fresh off the boat,” he recalled. “My English was horrible but we were told this was the land of opportunity. When our mother left, we were babies so when we came to America, it was like meeting her for the first time. I was in New York but didn’t know about Broadway even though I would later aspire to be there. At that time, I was more impressed with American life, Burger King and elevators.”
With his mother’s standard for success in the home, Robinson recalls his days as a youth in College Park, Georgia and his struggle to keep up with his twin who excelled at school while trying to quench his thirst for the arts. He was a part of a rap group and later was one of the students who worked to establish a theater program at his high school.
Still, his brother would indulge him in helping him act out scenes from some of his favorite films.
“The first movie I saw that made me want to do film was READ FULL INTERVIEW HERE.