Paradise Found By TV Actor!

Paradise Found By TV Actor!

Death in Paradise star Tobi Bakare tells iBelieve about being too short for football and the faith that sustains his acting career.

Like most young boys I grew up with a dream of becoming a professional footballer. My older brother had a promising career ahead of him in the sport so naturally I wanted to follow in his footsteps. But I was too short, too slow and according to some didn’t represent the typical playing style that was desired by youth clubs.

But it wasn’t long before I discovered I had a different talent, which at the age of 14 led me into a whole other world.

In 2003, a new part-time drama school called ‘Identity School of Acting’ opened up close to where I lived in Hackney, East London. It was designed to bring diversity to the arts by attracting actors from black and ethnic minorities and provide top quality training. It’s now one of the UK’s leading drama schools with almost a thousand multicultural students in its classes, producing some of Britain’s biggest names in the industry.

In its first year, I thought I’d give it a try, considering many of my school friends had told me I was funny.

Going into the first session I was blown away by the amount of beautiful girls in attendance, and as a young teen that was enough to keep me going! As time went on, my appetite for acting grew.

First Break

I booked my first job as an actor at the age of 15, in Max Stafford Clark’s ‘Macbeth’ as a young ‘Fleance’. I remember watching an amazing actor called Danny Sapani take the stage as Macbeth. His performance was outstanding and greatly inspired me. I still remember my lines, the songs and the smells from that production.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of starring in a few big movies and several other TV shows. I’ve been playing the role of officer JP Hooper on BBC1’s Hit TV show ‘Death in Paradise’ since 2015. I was newly engaged when I started the first series, now I’m married to Prisca with two children, Ariella and Isaac.

Although my career to date has been pretty smooth, the acting industry can be somewhat unstable. In those times, I’m thankful that my security is in God, but it wasn’t always the case.

Growing up, my parents did daily Bible devotionals with me and my other siblings and brought us to church every week, with the hope that some day we would each make a personal commitment to Christ. It seemed like their prayers were answered when I got baptised in 2007. Sadly I was just copying my brother who had done the same the year before. He had a big influence on me. But something in me genuinely wanted to know more about Jesus.

Devil's Distraction

Unfortunately, within a couple of days the devil brought the perfect distraction. An attractive girl from the past. We ended up dating for a couple of months. My curiosity about God began to fade but my conscience grew strong and any time I slept with her or any other woman, my heart felt heavy and my legs gave way. What was once effortless was now becoming a struggle.

It wasn’t until 2011 when I was 21 that I finally got the wake-up call I needed. I was invited to watch a church drama production called ‘Heaven’s gates and Hell’s flames’. I was only there to woo the girls that invited me but after seeing the play, it scared the life out of me. I probably needed something that strong to slap me out of my promiscuity. That night I stood up at the altar call and gave my life to Christ. I haven’t looked back since.

Today my faith plays a huge role in my life. It gives me integrity that’s needed in an industry that people usually bow down to.

As a Christian and self-employed actor I believe it’s important to exercise choice. My wife and I talk about every job I’m offered and look at how it’ll affect our family before we make a decision. My wife is also an actress and practises the same thing. We try to keep grounded in God by reading and meditating on his Word. We also set aside time for prayer and enjoy fellowship with other believers wherever we are. I always marvel when I see how consistent the Spirit of God is all around the world. God has taught me so much but most of all that he’s my Father, and I’m his son. That provides a lot of security knowing that I’m his responsibility. It also helps me to resist the temptation to be impatient and the need to seek validation through credentials and relevance which only gives room for discontentment.

The world is constantly projecting fear of the future but God says: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

This article was taken from the Spring 2020 issue of iBelieve Magazine.

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