Sam Adegoke Inspires Us With His Heart and Talent
Part of the infamous series, DYNASTY, Sam Adegoke has been evolving both personally and in his career. Being part of a show that has aired many, many seasons, the actor has been able to explore his character in depth, something he may not be able t do in film. Sometimes finding himself becoming his on-screen character, it is fascinating to see how characters live double lives so to speak! With a unique perspective on fear and the world, Sam Adegoke inspires us with his charisma and humbleness. You can also see him in “This Is Not A War Story,” a film which holds a dear place in his heart.
As an actor, what are the benefits of starring in a series which has many seasons such as Dynasty?
What’s great about being on a show this long, is how it allows for deep character exploration. Not to say you can’t do that in film, but multiple seasons gives more story to cover, which means more material that challenges you to consider different aspects of your character you maybe hadn’t thought of. It keeps things fresh and interesting which is key when you shoot 22 episodes per season like we do. Getting to build relationships with cast and crew is also a plus and the job security of several seasons certainly isn’t bad either.
Do you ever feel yourself becoming your character at times?
Absolutely. It takes 10 months to film a season of Dynasty and other than a short break for the holidays, we’re shooting non stop. You don’t even realize it sometimes until you step back but when you’re in a role that long, it’s almost impossible not to blend elements of yourself with your character because it’s always top of mind. I’ve always felt a responsibility to Jeff Colby that surpasses acting because its so rare to see a young Black billionaire on TV, which for me, was an amazing opportunity to tell a Black male narrative that wasn’t the stereotypical thug, drug dealer, or slave we often see. You get so emotionally invested that it’s hard sometimes to separate acting from reality. I realize even off screen, when Jeff is happy, winning and thriving, I find myself feeling the same. When bad things happened to him I’ve literally had to remind myself this is my character’s experience, not Sam’s. Its crazy how powerful our imaginations can be.
Share with us a story in which you failed at something and overcame it.
Funny, I recently had this very conversation with a friend. “Failure” is defined as not achieving a goal or neglecting to do something. I try not to look at life through that lens. Are there things I haven’t accomplished that I really want, of course, but even though I haven’t achieved them, as long as I’m working towards the desired goal, I can’t “fail.” I think quitting is the only real failure and even that is nuanced because there’s nothing wrong with stepping away sometimes. There’s a film project I’ve been passionate about telling for years. I literally did everything to make it happen and it just wasn’t materializing. It was affecting my health. I was losing sleep and obsessing, but doubled on my efforts to make it happen by working harder, which just made things worse. It was like 5 am one morning, I’d been writing and hadn’t slept in days and just realized: What the hell am I doing? This isn’t serving me and I’m not even enjoying the process anymore. I decided to step away and channel my energy towards another project which allowed me to revisit the first with a clearer mind, more focus, and a much healthier approach. It’s challenging when you really want something, but I’ve been practicing letting go, because life has proven to me over and over again, if it’s meant for you, it will be.
You also star in “This Is Not A War Story.” Can you tell us more about your role and what it means to you?
This film is so deeply important to me and I’m extremely proud to have been a part of it. We made it in partnership with a real life community of veterans in New York and New Jersey who create art on paper, made from their uniforms, to tell their stories and support each other through the often crippling trauma that comes from warfare. Talia Lugacy directed and I co-ep’d along with Rosario Dawson. My character Will LaRue is former army intel officer and multi-tour vet of Iraq and Afghanistan who seemingly has it all together, until his PTS and moral injury demons resurface and set him on a downward spiral after his fellow vet and mentee commits suicide. Will meets Isabelle, a marine vet struggling with her own demons and the two try to come to grips with their past and learn from each other. It’s a deep exploration of trauma that I’m especially proud to have explored through the lens of a black character. At the time we were filming, I’d just begun to explore my own personal traumas and seek therapy. Its something that is often still seen as “weak” or “unmasculine” in black communities and as such, neglected. But I found tremendous value in it and I hope the film in some way contributes to building more awareness, conversation and resources around combatting traumas that we all experience whether veteran or civilian.
What did you learn when preparing for the role of Will La Rue?
The entire experience in some ways was like being back in school. I’ve never served in the military nor has anyone in my family or circle of friends, so outside of movies I’d seen, I was clueless. I read a ton of books and articles and was fortunate to spent a lot of time with vets from WW2, Vietnam, and Iraq to hear their stories and experiences. I of course learned how to make paper from uniforms which is an incredibly cool process, but most importantly I learned in a very jarring, intimate way just how crippling the trauma from war can be. I learned that so many vets scoff at Hollywood’s portrayals of war and find them misleading and further detrimental to their trauma. Many vets especially from Vietnam and Iraq don’t want to “thanked for their service” because these conflicts to them were pointless and ridden with lies. I also learned the sad reality that we as a country MUST do better by our veterans. We know this of course, but to see the extent to which VA centers are overrun and underfunded was mind blowing. That lack of support means they often don’t have the tools and resources needed to re-assimilate to society or deal with their trauma in a health way which as we’ve seen, has led to high rates of suicide in veteran communities. We must do better.
You also like to be behind the camera! Where id the passion stem from?
It certainly comes from producing shorts back in my school days long before my career took off. TV and film has always been a fascinating process to me. It’s creative challenging, organised, disorganised and often chaotic, but always rewarding. This is Not a War Story was the first feature film I’ve produced on and I learned so much. What it means to be involved in a project this size beyond acting, to weigh in on different aspects of the film, and to make a monetary investment to support its completion and promotion. The more invested I am, the more rewarding the process and the finished product become and I certainly plan to continue being as involved in future projects as much as possible. It’s given me a greater appreciate for what it takes to create and distribute a film and television and makes you a better, more informed actor.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working? Is there something about you most people don’t know?
Food, travel and I think most people know that motorcycles are an obsession – since I was 14. I especially like exploring national parks on long rides over a weekend or even weeks if I have time. Get out in nature, pitch a tent, grill over an open fire and just unplug. Before the last season of Dynasty started I road from Atlanta to LA and back with a friend for nearly 2 months and hit nearly every national park in between. Reminds me how beautiful this country is which is easy to forget when we’re grinding in the rat race. I’m hoping to do some rides in South America to Patagonia, Europe, and Morocco once we wrap season 5.
Growing up, what/who were some important influences in your life?
My brothers. I’m the youngest of 6 boys and they were like idols to me growing up. All very intelligent, charismatic and certified crazy. I was a toddler when we came to the US from Nigeria and but they were already young teens. Despite having odd clothes as we were poor and constantly being bullied or made fun of for their accents, they were just fearless and owned who they were.
Anything you would like to say to our readers right now?
Please go see This is Not A War Story now streaming on HBO. Also a massive thank you to all the Dynasty fans for rocking with us this long!
What comes next?
This is Not A War Story will be streaming on HBO so I’ll keep promoting that. We’re currently filming Season 5 of Dynasty so folks can look forward to more of the drama and insanity there. I’ve also been writing and developing some stories set in Nigeria that are really important to me and really important for people to know. Though indigenous to Nigeria, they’re stories with global appeal and characters in circumstances that are universally relatable and show how interconnected we all are. I won’t say much more than that but I’m really excited to tell them.
Talent SAM ADEGOKE @samadegoke
Photographer VANESSA NWEZE @vanessanweze
Interview ALEXANDRA BONNET @alexbonnetwrites