INSTAGRAM/abeislegend (taken by instagram/facetimportraits)

Back in March, at this year’s Watersprite International Film Festival, I sat down with Abraham Adeyemi to discuss how a potential politics graduate from South London flipped the script into being an award-winning playwright, writer, and director. 

After cutting his time short at Brunel University in 2011, where he studied International Politics and initially planned on becoming a lawyer, Adeyemi moved to Birbeck to study Creative Writing. Starting out by making short films at university, Adeyemi has established himself as a key player to watch within the industry, with his film ‘No More Wings’ (2019) winning the competitive Script House competition launched by Soho House.

As I was readying myself to speak to him, I sat for several minutes watching him eagerly offer further advice to the crowd after an hour-long talk. I do think it’s worth noting that the majority of these individuals were young black men, perhaps gratified to see someone that reflected them making waves in an industry that often appears closed off. Adeyemi spoke graciously of nine years’ worth of advice, mentorship and networking opportunities and was firm in his belief that it is important to give back. 

‘No More Wings’ was Adeyemi’s first time at directing and, he tells me, “I went into it saying I’d never direct again”. As things go, he ended up loving it and would be open to directing more as long as it was “something [he] loved” – though his passion for writing remains unshaken.

"A majority of these individuals were young black men, perhaps gratified to see someone that reflects them making waves in an industry that often appears closed off."

Adeyemi’s openness translates into his work, with two of his major productions (the short film ‘No More Wings’ and the play ‘All the Shit I Couldn’t Say to my Dad’) based on aspects of his life. The former is based on two people he grew up with who diverged significantly at the cross-roads of youth and have matured into near opposites. The latter is a play about an aspiring musician, frustrated with his father’s misguided attempts to restore their relationship.

"It is with great pleasure I can announce that No More Wings has been selected for We Are One Film Festival" announces Adeyemi on Instagraminstagram/abeislegend

I ask about whether the emotion that goes into such personal creations affects how he approaches the process. Adeyemi, like a true professional, expresses that his priority is to “serve the character and the story” he has created. Without diverging entirely from reality, he tends to make important elements of the story different to real life. For example, in his play ‘All the Shit I Couldn’t Say to my Dad’, even though it was based on his experiences, he decided that the protagonist would be a musician, a creative, but not exactly a playwright.

“Soho House changed my life,” he says. Since becoming a member and having his directorial debut, Adeyemi has also been accepted onto the Channel 4 Screenwriting Course which he applied to every year since 2011. “I don’t know if ‘No More Wings’ is what did it,” he says. “It came up in conversation, and the person that was interviewing me loved it, so maybe!”. 


Mountain View

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The course is incredibly competitive and alumni have gone on to create critically acclaimed hits such as ‘Shameless’ (2004-2013) and ‘Youngers’ (2013-2014). The opportunity to write a television drama pilot that is shown to over two-hundred production companies doesn’t come easily and Adeyemi describes it as "the most formidable screenwriting programme in the country”.

Adeyemi has a number of mantras to hand, mostly focused on not letting any challenges overcome you. “Things happen when they’re meant to” is one of them. He also expresses his “will I care in a year” philosophy about what he should focus his energy on worrying about. And finally, about mentoring and giving back: “I’ll always do it”. I believe him, and excitedly await the projects he releases in the future.