Hollywood Unscripted Ep 32 - O-T Fagbenle (Maxxx, Black Widow): A Stuck at Home Special

00:00:01
Jenny Curtis: From CurtCo media.

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Speaker 10: There's  no  place like Hollywood. (music)

 

00:00:03
Jenny Curtis: Welcome  to  another  stuck  at  home  special  of  Hollywood  Unscripted.  I'm  Jenny  Curtis,  and  today  we're  virtually  catching  up  with  actor  and  creator  O. T.  Fagbenle.  You  probably  know  him  as  Luke  on  the  Handmaid's  Tale,  and  if  you  haven't  already,  you'll  soon  be  getting  to  know  him  better  as  Max.  O. T.,  thank  you  for  joining  us.

 

00:00:32
O.T. Fagbenle: Oh,  thanks  for  having  me. 

 

00:00:34
Jenny Curtis: So, you're in the middle of traveling right now. You just traveled to London from Tanzania and today, the day of our recording, is the day that Maxxx drops on Hulu.

 

00:00:43
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah.

 

00:00:43
Jenny Curtis: So,  I'm  sure  it's  been  crazy.

 

00:00:45
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  it's  been  pretty  busy.  Yeah,  yeah.  Pretty  good.  Thoughts  about  press  stuff  and  things  and  chatting  to  friends  and  stuff,  but  really,  I've  just  got  back  to  England  from  Tanzania,  so  it's  a  chance  to  socially  distance,  see  my  family  for  the  first  time,  some  of  my  younger  siblings,  so  that's  really  the highlight of  my  day. 

 

00:01:01
Jenny Curtis: Oh good. So, jumping into Maxxx, this is a show that you wrote, produced, co directed some episodes, are starring in, you're basically wearing all of the hats. Tell us about it. How did it begin?

 

00:01:15
O.T. Fagbenle: Well,  I've  been  developing  stuff  for  a  while  and  some  shorts  and  the  shorts  in  the  awards  circuits  and  all  that  kind  of  stuff,  and  then  I  basically  had  an  opportunity,  I  pitched  this  idea  to  the  channel  about  this  pop  star  who  is  fading  and trying  to  make  a  comeback,  this  kind  of  anti  hero  type  thing  and  they  really  loved.  They  were  like, " Great.  Make  it."  And,  I  really  had  my  executive  brother,  Luti  made  this  pilot  which  is  really  like  three  shorts.  They're  on  YouTube,  and  they  really  dug  that and so  they  asked  me  to  write  some  scripts  and  so  I  wrote  some  scripts  and  then  they commissioned the  series.  Obviously,  it's  a  lot  more  circuitous  than  that, but that was the  basic  rundown  of  it.

 

00:01:49
Jenny Curtis: You  were  writing  the  scripts  while  you  were  shooting  Handmaid's  Tale,  is  that  correct?

 

00:01:53
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah, that's right. That's right. It took me a couple of years really, to get the six episodes down, start from scratch in a new series. And so, yeah, I'd write during Handmaid's. Actually after, I think it was the first or second series of Handmaid's, I then stayed in Toronto for a summer. I wrote there.
But, a lot of the writing I did, or at least the development I did, I did work with professional improvisors from Second City. And so, we had some incredible Canadian actors and actresses come in and help me beat out the ideas.

 

00:02:19
Jenny Curtis: Are  you  a  member  of  Second  City  or  did  you  go  there  with  the  goal  to  work  with  them?

 

00:02:23
O.T. Fagbenle: No,  you  know  what?  It's  one  of  those  serendipitous  things  where  the  hotel  I  was  staying  at  was  across  the  road  from  Second  City  and  I  knew  I  like to work  with  actors  and  direct  my  way  into  writing  and  so  I  just  walked  in  there  and  asked  to  see  the  principal,  and  I  went  on  from  there.

 

00:02:39
Jenny Curtis: What  kind  of  work  would  you do  with  them  while  you  were  developing?  Would  you  pitch  them  a  scenario  and  just  let  them  go  for  it?

 

00:02:45
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  so  I was working with  a  script  editor  called  Bruce  Peery  and  he  and  I  would  sit  down  and  we'd  chat  out  our  storylines.  And  so,  we'd chat out  a  storyline,  A  story,  B  story,  C  story, these are obviously  our  main  characters.  These  are  our  antagonists.  They'll  overlap.  And  then,  I  would  come  out  with  16  scenes.  And  so,  I  know  what  happens  in  a  scene. 

 

 I  know  that character  A  comes  in  wanting  X  from  character  B  and  there's  going  to be a conflict and at  end  of  it,  we're  going  to  come  out  with  solution  C.  And  so,  I  would  go  in,  I'd  pitch  the  whole  episode  to  the  six  or  seven  actors  we'd  have  there,  and  then  I'd  say, " Right.  We're  going  to  start  with scene one. You're  playing  character A,  you're  playing  character B. This  is  what  you  want.  This  is  what  you  want.  Let's  improvise  it."
 And  so,  we'd  improvise  the  scene  and  then  I'd  be  like, " Okay,  great, and we're going to  make  some  changes.  Character  A,  you're  going  to  be  drunk,  character  B,  you're  going  to  be  more  resistant  and  I'm  going  to  replace  actor  to  play  character  A  with  this  other  actor,  and  you  come  in  and  let  me  see  your  version  of  it." 
And,  I  would  have  men  playing  women,  women playing men, black people playing white people, white people playing black people. It was a free  for  all  and  as  it  would  develop,  I  would  get  more  and  more  ideas  which  I'd  put  in  and  maybe  we'd  do  each  scene  about  three,  four  times. 

 

 Anyway,  we'd  spend  a  day  and  in a  day  we'd  get  to  about  half  an  episode  and  then  I  would  sit  down  in  a  coffee  shop  and  I  would  just  write  and  listen  to  the  recordings.  And  funnily  enough,  I'd  be  really  interested  to  go  back  and  check it  out,  but  there  was  very  little  actually  verbatim  that  was  taken  from  the  improvisations.  There  definitely  were  bits,  but  a  lot  of  times,  it  helped  me  flesh  out and understand  the  characters  understand  different  ways,  unexpected  ways  that  the  jokes  could  go.  And  so,  I  would  build  on  them  and  write  on them.  But,  they  were  such  a  valuable  part  of  the  process  for  sure.

 

00:04:20
Jenny Curtis: And,  how  long  was  that  part  of  the  process? 

 

00:04:22
O.T. Fagbenle: What  happened  is,  I  wrote over  the  summer,  and  by  the  end  of  the  summer,  I  had  six  episodes,  so we would  do,  then  I would  go  off  and  do  rewriting  and  stuff  like  that, and  we  were  supposed  to  go  into  production  that  September  I  believe.  There's  a  long  story,  but  basically,  we were  going  into  pre  production.  We  were  casting.  We  were  da, da, da, and  the  channel  said, "Look,  we  want  some  changes.  We're  not  ready  to  go  into  production  yet."  It  was  a  heartbreaker. 

 

 And,  most  of  the  times when  a  channel  tells  you that,  that  means  they  are  not going  to  make  your  show  anymore.  And,  they  reassured  us  that  they  were going  to  make the  show  and  that  they  just  needed  some  changes.  To  be  honest,  I  imagine  there  was  some  politics  involved.  It  wasn't  all  about  the  show,  but  there were  some  issues  with  the  show,  but  they  kept  their  word  and  we  retooled  and  rejigged  and  tweaked  and  improved  and  then  made  it  the  following  year.  So, that's probably the reason  why  it  took  so  long  to  write.

 

00:05:15
Jenny Curtis: Were  they  story  changes?  Because  the  show  itself  can  be  very  raunchy  at  times  and  really  push  the  comedy.  So  was  it that it  went  too  far  and you needed  to  pull  back,  or  was  it  actual  story  that  had  to  change?

 

00:05:27
O.T. Fagbenle: It's  interesting.  It's  hard  for  me  to  see  woods  in  the  trees  and  I'd  be  very  curious  to  read  the  first  drafts and the last drafts,  something  I  haven't  done  in  that  comparison,  because  from  my  tastes,  they  were  very  incremental  changes  that  we  actually  made  by  the  end  of it.  To  be  honest,  there  was  some  pushback  on  some  fundamental  things  which  I  just  said  I  wasn't  going  to  do,  changes  that  I  just didn't  believe  we  should  make.
 To  be  fair,  and  kudos  to  all of  the  commissioners  they  had  some  great  ideas,  but  also  when  I  said, " Look  this  is  really  important  to  my  vision  of  the  show,  they  backed  me."  It  took  some  push,  but  they  backed  me and  I  really  appreciated  them  for  that.  So, I don't know.  One  of  the  episodes  had  quite  fundamental  plot  changes  and  I  think there  was  some  development  of  the  characters,  in  particular,  Tamsin,  the  main  female  lead,  I  think  there  was  some  development  to  do  there  some  rounding  out  of  her  character.  So,  those  are some of  the  main  ways  that  it  improved.

 

 But  also, a big part of it was also  tuning  up  production  wise.  We  brought  on  Phil  Clark,  the  legendary  executive  producer.  It  was  funny,  because  we  had  a  meeting  and  they  said ...  because  me and  my  brother  has  got  a  long  history  of  making  music  videos  and  some  features,  but  never  really had  made  television,  and I never  really  made  television,  so  there was  a  lack  of  experience  on  our  team. 

 

 They  basically  said, " Look,  we  need  someone  on  your  team  that  can  tell  us  to  fuck  off,  and  right  now,  you  don't  have  anyone  who's  got  enough  weight  to  tell  us  to  fuck  off."  And  so,  we  went  and  got  someone  who could  tell  them  to  fuck  off,  who  was  Phil  Clark,  who  never  used  that  phrase,  funnily  enough. 
 In  fact,  almost  the  opposite.  Phil  was  one  of  the  secrets  to  being  successful  in  the  industry  is  how  much  shit  you  can  eat.  How  much  shit  can  you  take  and  still  keep  going? And, that was  very  disheartening,  but  I  think  probably  very  good  advice.

 

00:07:08
Jenny Curtis: Maxxx is about a formerly famous boy band member who is trying to make a come back as a solo artist and he is basically juggling his need to be authentic with his need to be loved and famous. And so, it's a really complicated character that must have been just absolutely fun to play. I'd love to hear about your process with him.

 

00:07:29
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  I  guess  in  some  ways,  he  echoed  parts  of  my  journey,  of  my,  I  guess,  ambivalence  between  going  for  the  art,  I  was  a  theater  actor  for  many,  many  years  and  very  happy  to it,  and  then  also  the  idea  of  being  popular  and  being  on  TV  and  stuff  like  that.  So, I guess  there  was  some  of  that  autobiographically  played  out,  and  then  also  I'd  gone through  this  terrible  heartbreak  and I was  trying  to  recover  from  that,  and so  I  guess  that  played  out  a  little  bit  as  well. 

 

 So,  I  guess  developing  him  in  some  ways  was  a  process  of  enhancing  and  over  blowing  and  exaggerating  lots  of  parts  of  myself  I  despise  and  then  an  opportunity  to  play  them  out.  That's  on  a  more  personal level, but  also  as  they developed,  I  realized  that  I  was  interested  in  exploring  a  broader  cultural  phenomenon  where  because  of  social  media,  it's  just  some  big  validation act. 

 

 We  constantly  put  forward  not  our  true  selves  but  our  idealized  selves  our  presentation  of  ourselves,  our  ego,  and  we  put  it  out there  and  we  hope  to be  liked  and  then  we  might  change  what  we  post,  depending  on  how  much  validation  we  get.  And,  it's  quite  an  obscene  process  that  evolves  the  mind  in  some  ways of thinking that. I  feel  sorry  for  young  people  who are  going  up  against  the  brilliant  minds  of  Harvard  and  Yale,  it's  programming  suites,  trying  to  manipulate  our  fickle  minds.
 So,  I  also wanted  to  talk  about  that.  Not  everyone  is  a  pop  star,  but  I  think  on  some  level,  everyone  who's  on  social  media  has  some kind  of  desire  to  be  validated  by  their  peers.  So,  the  process  of  developing  Max  was a confluence of  those  two  things.

 

00:09:09
Jenny Curtis: When  you  were  writing  him,  knowing  that you were going  to  play  him,  did  you  write  with  yourself  in  mind,  or  were  you  able  to  separate  the  two  between  writing  and  playing  the  character?

 

00:09:21
O.T. Fagbenle: My personal process generally as an actor is I don't ever see my characters as not me. I feel that they are me and I like to believe that there is quite a bit of differentiation between the characters I play. And so, the way that's achieved is just by leaning into different parts of it. I once read this psychologist said that by the age of three, a human being has experienced every emotion, murderous rage, jealousy, love, because all of those things are in us in different quantities and so I just believe that as I write each character and as I think about Maxxx, all of the characters are me. My son, is me. I was a geeky kid at school who would get these terribly strong crushes and I am Camden as well, that is sometimes socially awkward and probably unnecessarily verbose. And so, that's how I think about writing.

 

00:10:14
Jenny Curtis: If  you're  tapping  into  parts  of  yourself  that  aren't  necessarily  the  comfortable  parts  of  yourself.  Are  you  able  to  leave  it  on  set  or  do  you  take  it  home  with  you?

 

00:10:24
O.T. Fagbenle: I  did  get  accused  of  being  a  bit  Maxish at  various  points.  I  guess  I  do  find  it  hard  to  entirely  differentiate,  and part of  my  process as an  actor,  even  outside  of  Max  is  like ...  I  know  some  actors who  can  quick  and  turn it  on.  They're  there  and  they're  having a cup of tea  and  chatting  about ...  they  will  gossip  and  they  stick  their  fingers  in  there,  the other character, and  they're  crying. 
 Unfortunately,  I  don't  have  that  capacity.  I  have  really  embody  and  live  through.  It's  boring.  I  tell  you.  I  wish  I didn't have to, but over  20  years  of  being  an  actor,  I've  realized  that  that's  what  produces  the  best  results  for  me.  So,  yeah.

 

00:11:00
Jenny Curtis: So,  Max  comes  home.

 

00:11:02
O.T. Fagbenle: Well,  you know what? At the end of the  day, I've got to  have  meaningful  conversations  with  costume  designers  and  makeup  artists  and  Nick  Colette,  the  other  director  on  it,  and  not  be a ... so,  I'm  not  entirely

 Maxish,  but  there  is  some  blurred  lines  I  guess  maybe.

 

00:11:17
Jenny Curtis: Now,  your  brother  worked  on  this  project  with  you  as  executive  producer,  Luti.

 

00:11:22
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  yeah,  he  did.

 

00:11:24
Jenny Curtis: What  is  it  like  working  with  family, because  I  do  that  as  well  and  for  me,  it's  a  gift  because  you  can  support  each  other  like  nobody  else  can,  but  you  can  also  call  each  other  on  your  shit  like  nobody  else  can.

 

00:11:34
O.T. Fagbenle: Right.  Yeah, I guess it  all  depends  on  what  kinds  of  siblings  you have.  My  brother  is  one of the  most  inspirational  people  I  know.  He's  incredible.  He  so,  both  supportive,  but  he  dreams  big  and  he's  got  big  drive.  He  was  born  on the  24th  of  July,  he was going  24/7. He  doesn't  stop  and  exactly  that  thing,  we  were  both  desperate  not  to  let  each  other  down  and  to  bring  out  the  best  in  each  other and  we  implicitly  trust  the  intentions  of  each  other,  which  is to create  the  best  work  we  can  create.  And  so,  yeah,  it's  one  of  the  biggest  joys  in  my  life  being  able  to  create  Max  with  him. 

 

00:12:13
Jenny Curtis: Other  people  who  you  worked  with  on  this,  one  of  which  is  Christopher  Meloni  who  plays  Don  Wild,  who  is  just insane. 

 

00:12:20
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah. 

 

00:12:20
Jenny Curtis: He  was  so  much  fun.  But  also,  he  was  in  Handmaid's  Tale.  Is  there  a  connection  there  or  was  that just  a  small  world  that  you  guys  were  both  in  that?

 

00:12:30
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah.  Weirdly  enough  it's  the  latter.  I  never  met  him  on  Handmaid's.  I  actually  wanted  him,  asked  for  him  because  of  his  work  on  Happy,  which  I  found  so  fun  and  unexpected.  All  his  decisions  were  so  interesting  to  me  and  I  thought, " Wow,  if  we  could  get  him ..."  I  really  didn't  think  we  could  and  it  was  Luti  again  with  his  expansive  mindset  which is  like,  we  can  get  him, and  we  sent  him  the  script.  He  fell  in  love  with  it.  And,  we  were  just  lucky  enough  that  he  was  just  on  it,  because  we  didn't  have all  the  bells  and  whistles. 
 We  didn't  have  big  trailers.  We didn't  have  trailers.  We  had  nothing.  He  really  came  and slummed it with us, God  bless  him. I don't know,  I  just  think  he's  brilliant  in  this. 

 

00:13:07
Jenny Curtis: Speaking  of  not  having  trailers  and all  the  bells  and  whistles,  for  even  the  crew,  this  was  really  a  passion  project  for  everybody  and  you  worked as  a  big  collaborative  family.

 

00:13:16
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah.  It  was  tough.  There  were  tears.  It  was hard.  It  was  hard.  And  to  be  honest,  not  everyone  who  began  the  journey  with  us  ended  the  journey  with  us,  for  a  number  of  reasons,  but  I  put  some  of  it  down  to the fact that  we  were  trying  to  create  something  which  was  beyond  our  means.
 We  didn't  have  all  the  budget  in  the  world  and  we  wanted  to  create  something  brilliant.  And so,  we  just  had  an  expectation.  And  I  tell  you, there  were  a  number  of  opportunities  that  we  gave  people  including  people  from  minority  groups  and  stuff  like  that  to  be  heads  of  department  where  they'd  never  been  heads  of  department  before,  but  we  believed in them. 

 We  believed  in  their  skill  and  we  believed  that  their  reason  for  not  being  head  of  department  before  this  time  was  the  industry  creates  blocks  in their  process  of  hiring,  naturally  discriminates.  It  doesn't  need  an  individual  to  be  racist.  It's  just  the  way  of  the  industry.

 

 And  so,  we  gave  a  number  of  people  their  first go,  and  I  tell  you,  they  showed  up  so  hard,  so  brilliantly,  they  brought  a  kind  of  value  to  the  show  which  I  just ...  I'm  so  grateful  for, I'm  so  thankful  for.  It  was  just  reconfirmation  that  the  benefits  of  diversity  is  not  a  tick  box  exercise.  The  benefits  of  diversity  isn't  that  everyone  gets  to  feel  that  they're  doing  United  Colors  of  Benetton.  It's  that  there  are  brilliant  artists  here  which  are  underused  and  under  utilized  and  it's  to  our  benefit  to  give  them  that  opportunity.

 

00:14:37
Jenny Curtis: Did  any  of  them  bring  something  completely  surprising  that  you  wouldn't  have  had  without  them?

 

00:14:42
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  well,  in  particular,  there's just  one  that  comes  to  my  head,  is  Joanna,  our  esteemed  costume  head.  In  episode  two,  there's  this  big  industry  party,  and  I've  been  to  some  weird  parties  in  my  life,  and  I  know  what  it  feels  like.  I  know what  it  looks  like,  and  we  were  asking  for  these  extras,  and  the  extras  we  were  getting  just ...  I  didn't  believe  them. 

 

 It  was  very  frustrating.  For  weeks  and  weeks  I'd  look  through  these  reams  of  extras  and  just  be  like, " We're  not  going  to  have  the  party  with  this,  with a  party  that's  in  my  head,  the  parties  I've  been  to."  And  so,  Joanna  came  and  she  was  like, " Well  look,  I'm part of the  scene,  whether  it's the  fetishing  or  the  kink  scene.  I  know  people  who  were in there  and  we  can  both  cast  them,  but  they  come  with  costume,  because  that's  their  lifestyle." 

 

 And  so,  we  managed  through  her  to  get  half  the  party  through  her  contacts  and  people  who  are  above  and  beyond.  I  was  walking around that party, hell yeah.  This  is  now  a  party  that  I'm  both  intrigued  about  and  scared  about.  And,  that's  the  way  I  want  to feel.

 

00:15:42
Jenny Curtis: So,  Max  is  making  his  comeback,  fighting  with  trying  to  be  authentic  versus  trying  to  be  famous,  and  it  brings  up  two  opposing  songs.  One  is  a  song  about  sex  and  frozen  yogurt  and  the  other  is  a  song  that  has  been  stuck  in  my  head  since  watching  the  show.  You  say  that thing  with  me.  (crosstalk) . 

 

00:16:10
O.T. Fagbenle: Sing it girl.

 

00:16:10
Jenny Curtis: It  doesn't  leave  my  head.  Who  composed  those?  How  did  you  come  up  with  those  songs?

 

00:16:16
O.T. Fagbenle: So,  Rolling  Dice,  I  first  wrote  the  verse  for  about  10  years  ago  and  then  when  we  were  trying  to  find  a  song  for this  show,  I  hit  up  one  of  my  writing  partners,  Marcus  Marr,  a  brilliant  guy  and  I  said, " Look,  this  is  where  I  am  with the  song.  I'm  having  problems  with  the  chorus,"  and  so  he  went  out  and  he  wrote  me  chords,  and the way  he  writes  the  chords,  he'd  be  like,  (inaudible)   like  that. 
 And  so  one  day,  and to have  a  longer  version  of  the  story,  I  sat  down  at  my  keyboard and  I  wrote  the  lyrics  to  the  chorus.  So,  that's  how  that  song  came  about.  And  then,  the  other  song,  the  soft  serve  song,  someone  came  with  a  beat.  I  listened  to  20  beats  and I was trying to find  something  which  was  silly  but  real,  corny  but  fun  and  I  just  fell  in  love  with  this  beat. And so,  I  just  wrote  the  lyrics  and  chorus  and  rest  of  that  one  day  in  the  studio. 

 

00:17:08
Jenny Curtis: But,  it  was  you  who  wrote  the songs?

 

00:17:09
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah. Yeah. I had the  theme  tune  as  well.  But  again,  almost  like  with  everything,  there  were collaborations.

 

00:17:14
Jenny Curtis: So,  Max  plays  three  instruments,  and  you  had  to  learn  to  play  drums  and-

 

00:17:21
O.T. Fagbenle: Guitar and  bass.

 

00:17:23
Jenny Curtis: So,  you  learned  those  for  the  show?

 

00:17:25
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  yeah.  That  was  ridiculous,  as  if  I  didn't  have  enough  on  my  plate,  so  yeah,  I  was  doing  drumming  lessons  in  the  evenings  and  guitar  lessons.  It  was  stupid.  But,  actually  I  still  play  guitar  a little  bit  now,  so I'm  really  glad  that  I go  to  do  that  and  over  this  quarantine  period  with  my  nephew,  I've  been  teaching  him  bass,  so  it  was  worth  it  and  carried  on. 

 

00:17:43
Jenny Curtis: And  now,  you're going to have  to  take  Max  on  tour.

 

00:17:45
O.T. Fagbenle: Take  Max  on  to ... no, no,  we  have  been  pushing, we're literally  pushing  me to  go  record  that  song,  the  Rolling  Dice  song  so  we  can  release  it  or  whatever.

 

00:17:52
Jenny Curtis: You should. 

 

00:17:54
O.T. Fagbenle: (crosstalk)   and  stuff.  Yeah,  I  guess  we  should.

 

00:17:57
Jenny Curtis: So,  Max  has  some  truly  cringe  worthy  moments.  Is  that  something  you  love  to  play,  or  is  that  something  that  you  had  to  gear  up  to  play?

 

00:18:06
O.T. Fagbenle: No,  I  love  that.  I  love  it,  because  I  love  watching  it  in  real  life.  I'm  just  like, " Oh  my  God,  what  a  car  crash  is  going  on  here."  And,  I  guess  I'm  very  sympathetic  to  why  people,  or  why  I in  the  past  dug  yourself  a  whole  and  then  keep  digging,  trying  to  redeem  it,  and  I  find  that  very  amusing  to  me.  And,  it  comes  from  a  great  British  tradition  of  that,  from  Steve  Coogan  to  Ricky  Gervais,  to  Fawlty  Towers,  to  Back  (inaudible) . 
 I  think  it's  the  class  thing.  We're  so  obsessed  with  class  and  social  climbing  in  England,  and  I  think  that's  where  a  lot  of  it  comes  from,  people  wanting  to  be " better  than  they  are."

 

00:18:45
Jenny Curtis: Going  back  to  the  cast.  You  had  mentioned,  so  he's  heart  broken  and  desperate  to  win  back  his  ex,  Jourdan  Dunn,  who  is  played  by  Jourdan  Dunn.  How did  you  meet  her,  get  her  involved?  How did that happen?

 

00:18:57
O.T. Fagbenle: My  childhood  friend,  one  of  my  best  friends  in the  whole  world,  a  guy  called  Stephano  Moses. He is  a  very  brilliant  guy.  He's  an  associate  producer  on  the  show.  He  was  also  our  location  manager  funnily  enough,  and  he  had  a  connect  to  Jourdan,  pitched  it to her, showed her  some  of  the  material,  the  pilot  that  we  shot.  She  loved  it.  We  met  with  her  and  had  tea. 
 I  was  very  nervous  she  wouldn't  be a  very  good  actor,  but  she  looked  great  and we  got  on  very  well,  so  I  wrote  quite  modestly  for  her.  Then,  we  had  our  first  rehearsal  together and that's how we  deal  a  lot  with  improvisation,  so  I  did with her  everything  I  did  the  Second  City  people.  I  said, " Hey,  look,  this  is  the  scene.  You're  going  to  do  this  and  I'm  going  to  say  some  stuff to you and  you  say  some stuff back  and  let's  see  what  happens."
 And  we  did  it,  by  the  end  of  the  rehearsal, I wrote  back  to  my  producers  Ali,  Karen  and  Luti  and  I  said, " We've  got  a  problem  because  she's  so  good,  we're  going  to  need  more of her in  the  show." And,  we  did.  We  boosted  what  she  had  to  do  a  lot.

 

00:19:44
Jenny Curtis: Was there a lot  of  improvisation  on  set?

 

00:19:47
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  yeah, there was,  particularly  with  Jourdan.  That  last  scene  was  pretty  strictly  scripted,  at least her  part  was,  I  always  got  off  on  a  tangent.  But,  everything  else  that  we  had,  and  we  had  loads  of  material  that  we  didn't  use  to  be  honest,  me and her just  played  around. 
 And,  it  was  a  lot  of fun and  we  had  a  great  chemistry  on  set,  but  generally  speaking,  we'd  try  and  do  the  script,  but  there  was  leeway.  And  Helen  Monks,  who  plays  my  assistant  in  it,  she's  brilliant.  She  comes  out  and  we  would just do another  take  and we would just be like, "Keep going. Give us some more," and  Chris,  and  Pippa.  They're  all  really  talented. 

 

00:20:19
Jenny Curtis: Pippa  Bennett- Warner,  who  plays  Tamsin,  your  manager,  so  she's  on  her  personal  mission  of repping  true  artists  and  creating  something  beautiful  for  the  world  and  then  her  very  first  client  who  lands  in  her  lap  is  Max,  who's  fighting  against  being  a  novelty  act.  But,  that  was  a  really  fun  relationship  to  play  with  and  you  said  you  had  to  develop  it  more  in  the  beginning,  so  I'd  love  to  hear  more about  the  process  of  her  character.

 

00:20:40
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  it's a funny  one,  because  I  think  sometimes  as  a  writer,  and  especially  because  I  know  I  work  with  improvisation,  so  sometimes  what  I  see  on  the  script  isn't  what  the  execs  might  sometimes  see.  So,  sometimes  there  would  be  notes  and  I'd  be  like, " I  know  it  won't  be  like  that,"  because  I'm  going  to cast in a certain  way  but  it's  my  first  rodeo,  so  why  should  anyone  believe  me  about  that?

 

00:21:03
Jenny Curtis: Yeah.

 

00:21:03
O.T. Fagbenle: And  so,  but  that notwithstanding, we did get  some  very  good  notes.  Tanya,  who  works  with  Val,  did  some  great  notes  for  her  as  well.  And  then,  Pippa  herself,  Pippa  Bennett- Warner  is  such  a  talented  actress.  She's  predominantly  works  in  drama.  She's  a  RADA  trained,  classical  actress  who's  done  Shakespeare  at  the  Globe  and  all  sorts.  She's  the  real  deal.  And,  she  brought  such  detail  and  differentiation,  and  humor  and  truth  to  Tamsin.  I  am  very  indebted  to  her  actually,  to  how  she  fulfilled  that  part.

 

00:21:32
Jenny Curtis: And,  you  also  went  to  RADA,  so  you're  both  alum.  Did  you  know each other?  Or,  were  you  different  time  periods?

 

00:21:37
O.T. Fagbenle: Different  time  periods  by  quite  a  bit,  but  we  did  know  each  other.  The  black  acting  community  is  very  small,  and  it  was  even  smaller  10  years  ago,  and  so  everyone  knew  everyone. And  so,  yeah,  we  bumped  into  each  other.  We  knew  each  other.  After  the  auditions,  we'd  have  a  good  old  laugh,  so  yeah,  that  was great.

 

00:21:51
Jenny Curtis: You  made  a  point  to  have  an  adopted  son  character  that  was  such  a  fun  relationship  to  play  in,  because  Max  has  so  much  depth  to  him  while  being  so  shallow.  So,  it's  just  fascinating  all  the  tools  you  gave  yourself  to  really  show  that  he  cares  about  people.  I  would  love  to  hear  more  about  your  reasoning  for  having  an  adopted  son,  your  reasoning  for  him  having  a  crush  on  the  non  binary  character.  I  thought  the  whole  thing  was  wonderful.

 

00:22:16
O.T. Fagbenle: I  love it too. I  love  those  guys.  I  love  those  young  actors.  So  basically,  I  think  it's  quite  amusing,  the  whole  thing  about being a celebrity  and  adopting.  When  I  say  amusing,  I  mean  I  really  respect  it  actually.  People  get  (inaudible)   it's  like, " Hey,  you're  dedicating  a  lot  of  time  to  a  young  person,  kudos  to  that." 
But,  I  also just think  the  phenomenon  was interesting. So,  I  thought  it would  be  great  for  Max,  and  also  gives  him  a  bit  more  heart.  I  don't  know.  It  came  pretty  early  that  idea.  Funnily  enough,  the  idea  for  the  non  binary  love  affair,  it's  really  interesting  to  me,  because  originally  that  character  was  a  female.
 And in fact, the first  time  round  we  auditioned,  we  were  only  auditioning  women  for  that  part.  And,  I  think  part  of  the  feedback  that  came  back  was  just  the  concern  that  maybe  there  were  a  lot  of  female  characters  that  were  particularly  sexual,  because  you  have  Siren  in  episode  three  and  you  had  Rocks  in  episode  two,  and  then  you  had  Chris  Meloni's  wife  and  then  you  had  the  assistant  Rose.

 

 And  so, we  were  all  sexually  forward,  but  I  really  didn't  want  to  change  that  dynamic.  I  really  liked  the  dynamic  of  Alan,  the  son,  being  the  sub  as  it  were  in  that  relationship.  And  so,  I  wasn't  sure  how  to fix it and then  I  thought, " Well,  what  if  we  just  change  the  gender  then?  If  that's  the  issue,  then  let's  just  change  the  gender  and  to  get  that  diversity  in."

 

 And  so  then,  we  auditioned  some  young  guys  and  yeah,  suddenly  a  bright  shining  light,  I  was  adamant.  The  moment  I  saw ...  I  was  just  yeah,  that's  who it  is. And, it  was  a  bit  of  a  shock  to  Alan,  because  he'd  of  course,  auditioned  with  a  lot  of  very  pretty  girls,  and  then  suddenly ...  and  he  comes  from  a  Muslim  background,  so  it  was  a  little  bit  of  a ...  he  was  like, " Oh,  really?"  But,  kudos  to  him.  He  wanted  to part and believed in it, and  they  just  had  a  great  chemistry.  It's  an  echo  of  my  teen  love  affairs  and  infatuations  and  unrequited  loves  (crosstalk) -

 

00:24:11
Jenny Curtis: Mystical  unicorn  of  a  crush.

 

00:24:12
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah.  Exactly. Exactly.

 

00:24:14
Jenny Curtis: But,  what  was so great about it, because  it  came  from  a  character that  was  originally  written  for  a  female,  there  was  no  comment  on  the  non  binary  character.  It  just  was  life. And, everybody  was  okay  with  it.  And,  I  thought  that  was  really  refreshing.

 

00:24:27
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  thanks  for  noticing  that.  That  was a very conscious decision, and  there  were  notes  for  us  to  mention  it,  and  why  don't  we  have  a  conversation  about  it  and da, da, da. And,  I've  been  in  a  show,  Looking,  for HBO, which is a  very  popular  cult  gay  drama  kind  of  thing,  and  it's  a  funny  one  because  I  think  for  people  in  minority  groups,  the  fact  of  their  minority  identity  is  quite  a  relevant  part  to  their  day  to  day  life.  But,  it's  not  necessarily  what  we  talk  about  all  the  time.

 

 All  our  storylines  don't  have  to  be  about  that.  We had the  '90s and the  2000s  to  have  those  conversations,  kind  of  thing.  And  I  just felt, here  we  are  in  2020,  it's  possible  for  us  just  to  find  out  about  these  two  human  beings  and  how  did  they  try and match together, and it doesn't have  to  be  about  the  issues.
 Of  course,  the  issues  are  very  important.  That  was  just  something I  just  wanted  to  attempt  in  this  show. ( music)

 

00:25:28
Jenny Curtis: A  Moment  of  Your  Time,  a  new  podcast  from  CurtCo  Media. 

 

00:25:31
O-T Fagbenle: I'm  currently  21  years  old  and  today  I'm  going  to  read a poem for you.

 

00:25:35
Speaker 4: It felt like magic extended  from  her  fingertips  down  to  the  base  of  my  spine.

 

00:25:38
Speaker 5: You  have  to  take care of yourself because the  world  needs  you  and  your  voice.

 

00:25:41
Speaker 6: Trust me, every  do  gooder  that  asked  about  me  was  ready  to  spit  on  my  dreams.

 

00:25:44
Speaker 7: Her  fingers  were  facing  me.

 

00:25:45
Speaker 8: It  can  feel  like  your  purpose  and  your  worth  is  really  being  questioned.

 

00:25:49
Speaker 9: You're  going  to  stop  me  from  playing  the  piano.

 

00:25:51
Speaker 10: She  buys  walkie- talkies,  wonders  to  whom  she  should  give  the  second  device.

 

00:25:54
Speaker 11: Cats  don't  love  humans.  We  never  did.  We  never  will.  We  just  find ones that are more-

 

00:25:58
Speaker 12: The community  of  rock  climbing  is  that  you  can  only  focus  on  what's  right in front of you.

 

00:26:01
Speaker 13: And so,  our  American  life  begins. 

 

00:26:06
Speaker 3: We  may  need  to  stay  apart,  but  let's  create  together.  Available  on  all  podcast  platforms.  Submit  your  piece at  CurtCo. com/ amomentofyourtime.

 

00:26:14
Jenny Curtis: ( music)  In  a  completely  different  direction,  the  Handmaid's  Tale  is  basically  a  whole  other  world,  and  I'd  love  to  jump  into  Luke  a  little  bit  because  he's  a  far  cry  from  Max.  In  this  last  season  he  is  patient  and  loving  and  he  is  raising  his  wife's  child  from  another  man,  and  he  faces  his  wife's  oppressors  and  rapists,  not  to  mention  her  boyfriend.  So,  a  lot  happened  for  Luke  in  the  last  season  in  Handmaid's  Tale.

 

00:26:55
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah.  (crosstalk)  about it. It all happened,  yeah.

 

00:26:57
Jenny Curtis: What  was  that  like  going  through?

 

00:26:59
O.T. Fagbenle: You  know  what, that's  what  actors,  we  come  for  that. Oh  yeah,  make  me  go  through  pain.  Yeah.  So,  it's  a  joy.  When  you've  got  great  writing  and  you  get  to  act  opposite  Samira  and  Yvonne  and  Elizabeth,  Joe  and  Max,  yeah,  please. 
 So  of  course,  Luke  is  going  through  the  run  of  the  mill,  but as O.T., that's why I came into the profession. That's the kind of turmoil  that  rocks  my  boat.

 

00:27:24
Jenny Curtis: Yeah. We  had  Bruce  Miller  on  the  show  a  few  weeks  ago  to  talk  about  Handmaid's  Tale,  and  Bruce  talked  about  how  the  set  and  the  writers'  room  are  always  actually  really  lighthearted  because you  have  to  counterbalance  how  heavy  the  material  is.  Is  that  your experience  on  set?

 

00:27:44
O.T. Fagbenle: Oh yeah. There's a lot of laughter. There's a lot of jokes on the set. Yeah. It's great. It's  great.  It's  lovely.  And,  Bruce  also, I've got to  say,  I think, is  very  generous  as  was  Warren,  but  Bruce  in  particularly  and  Colin  Watkins,  our  VP  and  sometimes  director,  in  that  when  we  were  shooting  Handmaid's and  I  was  developing  Max,  Bruce  let  me  come  into  the  writers'  room  and  sit  down,  and  Mike  Barker,  who  should  be  nominated  for  an  Emmy  every  year  for  Handmaid's,  he  let  me  shadow  him  on  the  final  episode  of  season  three.
 And,  there  was  so  much  generosity  from  that gang  and  supporting  me,  in  making  my  first  show,  so at any rate,  that  somewhat  speaks  to  the  joy  and  openness  and  love  that's  apparent  in  the  show,  yeah.

 

00:28:18
Jenny Curtis: Do  you  have  a  piece  of  advice  that  they  gave  you  that  stands  out  to  you?

 

00:28:21
O.T. Fagbenle: You know what?  Bruce  gave  me  a couple  of  goodies.  He  once  told  me  that  the  best  book  he  read  on  writing  was  a  book  called  Drawing,  and  one  of  the  things  that  stuck  out  to  me  is  that ...  and  I'm  going  to  butcher  what  he  told  me,  but  basically,  it  was  like,  when  you're  drawing  a person,  you  don't  have  to  start  at  the  top. 

 

 You don't have to  start  at  the  beginning  or  the  feet.  You  don't  have  to  do  a  rough  outline.  You  don't  have  to.  You  can  just  take  any  discrete  piece,  and  the  example  I  think  he  gave  is  like  if  a  person  was  standing  there  with  their  hand  on their hip.  You  can  start  with  the  space  between  their  arm  and  their  body,  and  that  can  be  the  starting  point. 

 

 

 And,  you  could  think  of  the  same  thing  with  a  script  or  a  scene  or  a  sentence.  You  don't  need  to  start at  the  beginning.  The  first  thing  you  write of a  script  does  not  have  to  be  scene  one,  and  the  first  thing  you  write  in  a  scene  does  not have to be the  first  lines  written.  You  can  find  a  discrete  part  and  grow  of  that  and  that  was a really piece  of  useful  information  I  got.

 

00:29:14
Jenny Curtis: So,  what  was the first part of  the  drawing  for  you  with  Max?

 

00:29:18
O.T. Fagbenle: The  funeral  scene  was  something  that  really  stuck  out.  I  remember  I  had  gone  to  my  sister's  house,  my  big  sister.  I  was  just,  such  an  important  part  of my life and  her  husband  who  is  my  brother  now,  and  I  remember  pitching  them  who  Max  was  and  I  was  like, "He's  the  kind  of  guy  who,  let's  say  there  was  a  funeral,"  and  I  just  starting  pitching ...  and  they  were  cracking  up  as  I  was  acting  it  out.
 And,  I think that  was  an  anchor  for  him.  He's  that  guy  who  sees  a  celebrity  opportunity  at  the  funeral. 

 

00:29:48
Jenny Curtis: Oh  Max.

 

00:29:48
O.T. Fagbenle: Oh Max.

 

00:29:50
Jenny Curtis: So,  I  know  you  can't  talk  about  anything  because  Marvel  is  notoriously  secretive.

 

00:29:56
O.T. Fagbenle: No,  I'm  going  to  tell  you  everything.  This  is  the  interview  where  we're going to  (crosstalk) -

 

00:29:59
Jenny Curtis: Oh great. Fantastic. Spill it. Can  you  tell  us  though,  emotionally,  what  is  it  like  to  be  a  part  of  the  Marvel  Universe  with  Black  Widow.  You've  said  this  is,  after  20  plus  year  career,  the  biggest  job  you've  had. 

 

00:30:13
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  it  is  an  incredible  honor.  If  you  notice,  it's  a  bit  surreal  honestly.  When  I  graduated  drama  school,  I  had  no  ambitions  to be  in  movies.  I  had  no  ambitions  to  be  on  television.  Zero.  I just wanted to be a theater actor.  That's  all  I  really  understood  and that was  all  that  was  in  my  mind.  I  was  very  content  with  that  future,  seeing  the  decades  ahead  of  me  performing  on  various  stages  and  performing  some  great  roles  and  plays  and  stuff.

 

 So  in  a  way,  it's  weird  because  being  part  of  something  like  the  Marvel  Universe,  was  never  part  of  my  original  dream,  and not because  it's  not  really  attractive  and  amazing  and  wonderful,  it was  just  something  else.  It  was  like,  do  you  want  to  be  an  NBA  basketball,  yeah,  sure.  But,  that's  not part  of  reality.
 And  so,  as  it's  happened,  it's  very  surreal.  I'm  doing  things  like  Comic  Con  and  things  like  that.  I  feel  like  I  really  appreciate  it.  I  don't  take  it  for  granted  at  all  because  I  don't  know.  I'm  a  person  believes  that  luck  really  plays  a  huge  part  in  the  outcomes  of  people's  lives  and  I  believe  I've  been  incredibly  lucky.

 

00:31:18
Jenny Curtis: Has  the  required  secrecy  been  just  killing  you?

 

00:31:21
O.T. Fagbenle: No,  I  think  it's hilarious.  It's  so  funny  because  I'm  not  an  industry  person.  I  don't  read  industry  mags.  I'm  embarrassingly ...  I  have  to  start  watching  television. I have to learn  about  television,  and  so  to  me,  it's  all  a  fun  fair.  And,  people  think  like,  oh  am  I  task  master,  and  I  just  think it's  fun. And  to  me,  it's  I  don't  know,  it's  not burning inside.

 

 I  really  care  about  my  family  and  I'm  working  on  a  charity  called  the  ABC  Foundation,  and  it  provides  tech  opportunities for  young  people  in  Africa.  These  are  the  things  which I think are important and these are the things that burn me. I don't know. This is fun.

 

00:31:52
Jenny Curtis: Can you talk about at all,  the  audition  process  since  as  far  as  I  understand,  they don't  tell  you  anything  when  you're  auditioning  for  a  character?

 

00:32:04
O.T. Fagbenle: Well, you know what? I will tell you some stuff that I've not said on any interview before. Basically, the audition sides I got were not the same as the part I played. It was completely different, and I got sent them ... I was on holiday with my then girlfriend, and to be honest, when I first got the audition, I was like, " Oh, I'm not going to do that." I was writing Max at the time. I was just like, "I'm not going to do that," because I was already, embarrassing enough, my then girlfriend ... I told her, "Look, we're going to go on holiday, but I'm going to be working from 9: 00 a. m. to 1: 00 p. m. writing every day during our holiday to Mexico. And so, I was like, I'm not now going to take 1: 00 p.m. to 2: 00 p. m. to put down an audition that I'm never going to get because they're going to give it to someone else. I was just like, I'm not doing it. I'm not putting myself on tape. And so, she was like, " You should." I was like, " Look, I can't ... I do want to be respectful to you," and things like that, and bless her heart, she was very generous and she was like, " No, you put yourself on tape." So anyway, long story short, I put myself on tape, in this quite different character. And, it was a banging tape. At some point, I feel like I want to share it, because it was like, that's one of the best auditions I've ever done.
And, at the end of it, she was like, " This is good. You're going to get this." And I was like, " No. Doing a great tape does not mean you do get ..." I've done a bunch of good tapes and no one's even called me back telling me thanks for sending it. No expectations. So, I just sent it off. And then, I was told that I would do a screen test with Scarl and it was me and six other guys, and I wasn't a favorite. I was number four on the list for something that I don't know. But to do a screen test, you have you sign a contract and the contract that I would sign would mean that I wouldn't be available to shoot Max. So, I was like, I don't even know if I can sign this contract. I don't know if I can do that because doing a Marvel Universe, that's, like you said, the biggest job I could ever hope for, but Max is my heart. It's something I did with my brother. I'm going to let my brother down. I have to have that conversation. My brother was like, " Bro, I've got this screen test, and I don't know what to do, because I don't want to let you down," and he's staked his company on this show. It was a really challenging time, and eventually, I was just like, I don't know if I can sign a contract that says I can't do Max. And so, please go and talk with them. And, my reps are like, "I don't know if they'll take that. They're Marvel." And then, I got a call about a week later. My agent called me up and said, " Right. You've got a problem." And, I was like, " Oh, okay." And she's like, " Well, they just offered you the role."

 

00:34:20
Jenny Curtis: Oh my gosh.  I  even  know  you  got  it,  but  I  still  got  jealous. 

 

00:34:24
O.T. Fagbenle: I know.  I  was  like, " What?  I don't believe this."  I  was  just  beside  myself.  I  remember  just,  I  was  so  happy  and  joyful,  but  then  at  the  same  time  I  had  this  like, am I  going  to  have to call my brother up  and  tell  him  that  we're  not  going  to  do  the  show,  and  I  was  like, " Listen,"  I  said  to  my  agent  Julia  who's  amazing,  Julia  Burkoff.  I  said, " How  are  we  going  to  make it work.  We've  got  to  make  it  work." 
 And,  you  know  what?  It  was  just  like,  I don't know,  luck,  fate,  destiny,  whatever,  Handmaid's,  for  whatever  reason,  was  running  late  and  so  they  said, " We're  not  going  to  be  shooting  in  September,"  so  they  were  pushed  four  months,  and  then  we  just  asked  Marvel, " Hey  look,  can  you  fit  my  filming  into  these  two  months  and  push  those  there,"  and  then  we  asked  channel  four  if  we  could  push  Max  there  and  they  all  overlapped  like  this,  but I've actually  get  to  do  all  three.  It  was  so  surreal  and  I  felt  so grateful.

 

I felt  so  grateful  for  Marvel  and  Cate  Shortland,  who  assured  me  when  I  got  to  speak  to  her.  She's  an  indie  filmmaker,  and  I was like, "Look,  this  is  my  baby."  She  said, " We  can  make  it  work.  We'll  make  it  work."  And  so,  I'm  so  grateful to her and  to  Marvel,  who  was  surprisingly,  just  flexible  and  responsive  and  I  feel  very  grateful  for  that.

 

00:35:36
Jenny Curtis: That's awesome. So,  again,  after  a  20  year  career,  is  it  weird  that  now  you're  popping  on  lists  of  actors  to  watch,  even  though  you've  been  around  for  decades?

 

00:35:47
O.T. Fagbenle: Well,  yeah, I don't know. I have  a  bit  of  a  kind  of,  I  don't  know.  I  don't  know.  I  really  try  to  not  care  about  that.  Of  course,  I  care  about it.  I  do  care  about it. I fricking  love  it.  Let  awards  rain  on  my  face,  but  at  the  same  time,  I  just  try  and  remind  myself  what's  important,  what's  real. 
 If  you  get  too  much  of  a  sense  of  self  from  others,  then  you're  really  dangerous,  because  the  world  can  be  fickle  and  everything  changes,  and  so,  look,  it's  a  lesson  I'm  trying  to  relearn  and  teach  myself  every  day  to  be  present  and  to  be  grateful  for  the  small  things  and  stuff  like  that. 
 And so,  I  try  not  to  put  too  much  stock ...  of  course,  like  I  said,  (inaudible) ,  but  I  try  not  to  put  too  much  stock  in  those  things,  because  I  know  it's  not  a  sustainable  way  of  having  peace. 

 

00:36:42
Jenny Curtis: So,  it's  speaking  about  what's  real.  Can  you  tell  us  more  about  ABC  Foundation?

 

00:36:46
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  you know what?  As  my  career  grew  and  I  realized  how  lucky ...  I  was  getting  paid  better. I  was  getting  paid  American  money  for  a start and  I  was  like, " Look,  I  have  a  responsibility.  I've  got  more to give."  And  so,  I  started  this  charity  which I've got the  tech  passion.  I'm  passionate  about  tech and  I'm passionate about  young  people.

 

 We  matched  up  with  this  organization  called  Induna  Girls  in  Zimbabwe,  and  they  do  exactly  that.  They  give  tech  training  to  young  women  in  Zimbabwe,  and  some  of  it  is  as  rudimentary  as  teaching  them how to turn on  a  computer  or  write  an  email,  go  online,  because  these  people  don't  have  necessary  access  to  the  internet.
 And so,  over  the  last  two  years,  we  have  provided  tech  training  to over  100  young  people.  We  created  a  tech  hub  which  has  solar  panels  and  cooling  system  which  is  mobile  and  the  young  people  can  come  there  and  have  access  to  over  a  dozen  computers  we  have.

 

 We've  paid  for  them  to  get  tuition,  both  on  a  remedial  level  and  also  in  things  like  robotics.  I  just  think  tech  is  the  future,  and for  people  in  developing  nations  to  keep  up and  to  compete,  they  need  access  to  that.
 And  so,  very  recently,  Elizabeth  Moss  (inaudible) ,  Angelica  Ross  all  joined  me  on  an  Insta  live  which  you  can  check  out.  They  were  so  generous in their  time,  to  help  fundraise,  because  we're  aiming  to  create  more  of  these  tech  hubs  so  we  can  provide  access  to  more  and  more  people  in  Zimbabwe.

 

00:37:56
Jenny Curtis: That's  awesome.

 

00:37:56
O.T. Fagbenle: If  anyone  wants  to  check  out  ABC  Foundation,  it's  abcfoundation. me,  that  was  available  and  then  people  can  also  see  on  my  Instagram, there's a  link  in  my  bio,  if  people want  to  find  out  more  about it  or  to  donate.  We  take  both  money  and  also  things  like  computers,  old  computers,  old  smart  phones,  all  of  these  things  can  be  put  to  real  use  to  young  people  in  Zimbabwe.

 

00:38:14
Jenny Curtis: We'll  also  put  the  link  in  the  notes  to  this  show,  so  if  you're  listening  to  the  podcast,  go  into  the  show  notes  and you can  just  click  the  link  and  go  right  there. 

 

00:38:22
O.T. Fagbenle: Right.  Thank  you.

 

00:38:23
Jenny Curtis: So,  classically  trained  actor  from  RADA,  accolades  aside,  fame  aside,  money  aside.  If  you  had  to  choose  one,  would  it  be  theater  or  film?

 

00:38:31
O.T. Fagbenle: Oh,  it's  a  no  brainer.  It's  theater.  It's  not  even  close,  really.  But,  I  don't  do  it  now  because  those  things  (inaudible)   aside.  It's  hard,  and  it  doesn't  pay  anywhere  near  as  well,  but  I  was  born for the  stage. 

 

00:38:45
Jenny Curtis: What  is  the  difference  to  you  between  a  live  audience  and  a  film  audience?

 

00:38:50
O.T. Fagbenle: The  audience  is  definitely  a  huge  part  of  it.  That  relationship  with  an  audience,  that  thing  that  changes  each  performance  as  you  feel  them  and  have  a  relationship  with them.  But  also,  a  lot  of  it  is  the  writing.  There's  a  style  of  writing  which  is  available  in  theater,  which  isn't  available  in  television.  If  someone  told  me, " You  watch  television,  but theater  has  an  audience.  They  listen  to  the  words." 
 And,  what's  amazing  about  theater  to  me  is  it's  not  unusual,  in  fact  it's  very  common  for  me  to  do  something  written  400  years  ago  in  Shakespeare,  or  to  do  something  within  the  '80s  or  the  '60s,  Lorraine  Hansbury.  And  so,  what  we're  saying,  the  best  works  of  art  from  the  English  language  are  available  to  an  actor  to  do  again  and  again.

 

 I  can't  go  and  play  my  favorite  character  in  Game  of  Thrones.  That's not  available  to  me  to  go,  oh,  the  Wire.  Okay,  well actually, I'm going to  do  the  Wire  next  year.  I  can't  do  the  best  of  television  again  and  then  do  my  interpretation  of  True  Detective  or  whatever.  I  can't.

 

 Once  it's  in  television,  once  you're  done,  it's  pretty  much  done,  unless  30 years have gone. In theater,  you  can  have  four  productions  of  King  Lear  going  on  at once.  So,  it's  that.  The  last  play  I  did,  I  did a  play  called  Ma  Rainey's  Black  Bottom  by  August  Wilson. 
 It's  one  of  the  greatest  plays  in  the  English  language.  It's absolutely  heart  wrenching  and  stunning.  It's a  play  I wanted to do for  20  years,  and  that's  available  to  me  on  stage.  And  so  yeah,  that's  a  big  part  of it.

 

00:40:14
Jenny Curtis: Do you have  a  favorite  line  from  any  character  you've  ever  played?  One  that  just  really  you  would  tattoo  on  your  arm  if  you  could?

 

00:40:24
O.T. Fagbenle: Oh  my  God.  I  don't  know,  I'm  a  commitment  phobe.  What  am  I  going  to  tattoo on my arm. I don't know there's so many. It would  probably  be  a  line  from  Mercutio.  Shakespeare  is  just  somebody  who  the  world ... I don't  know,  nothing  really  comes  straight  to  mind  now.  But yean, it  would  definitely  be  one  of  the  Bard's  lines. 
 I  would,  listen,  I did  (inaudible)  for  four  months  on  tour,  little  regional  theaters  across  the  country  and  you'd  sit  in  your  dressing  room.  You  could  hear  the ... and then  every  night,  some  new  line  would ...  that  line  I'd  never  heard  before  could  be  the  best  line  in  another  play. 

 

00:41:00
Jenny Curtis: Do  you  have  a  favorite  Shakespearean  insult?

 

00:41:04
O.T. Fagbenle: I actually have  a  book  of  Shakespearean  insults  somewhere.  Why, do you just have  one  on  top  of  your  head?

 

00:41:08
Jenny Curtis: Canker  blossom  is  by  far  the  best  insult  I  think  you  could  ever  throw  to somebody.

 

00:41:12
O.T. Fagbenle: Canker blossom. The blossom of  the  canker.  Oh God. That's a  good  one.

 

00:41:18
Jenny Curtis: Any  final  thoughts  before  we  close  out?

 

00:41:21
O.T. Fagbenle: Well yeah, just I'd love you guys to watch Maxxx and hit me up on the socials and just if you liked it, tell me. If you didn't, it's fine, just keep it to yourself.

 

00:41:31
Jenny Curtis: How  Max  of  you.

 

00:41:32
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah, exactly,  exactly.  But,  I  guess  if  there's  one  thing  that  I've  been  contemplating  a  bit  recently,  is  it's  a  really  stressful  time  I  think  at  the  moment,  of  course,  with  coronavirus  and  civilized  matters  and  the  environment  and  it's  crazy  politics  and  I  think  it's  so  stressful.  And,  I don't  know,  I've  been  reminded  a  lot  this  week  how  important  it  is to  look  after  one's  mental health  as  much  as  possible, to be kind to yourself and  to  find  ways  to  find  peace  and  to  be  present  and  stuff.  So  yeah,  I  guess  if  I was  going  to  say  anything,  it's  just  like,  that's  something I've been thinking a lot  about  recently,  and  so  I  wish  everyone  the  best  of  luck  with  that.

 

00:42:10
Jenny Curtis: O. T. Fagbenle, thank you so much for joining us today. Everyone should check out Maxxx. It is now out on Hulu, and I can't wait for Black Widow in hopefully a few months.

 

00:42:21
O.T. Fagbenle: Yeah,  it  was  fun  chatting  with  you.  Thank  you. 

 

00:42:22
Jenny Curtis: Thank you so much. ( music) Hollywood Unscripted was created by CurtCo Media. This special episode of the stuck at home series, was hosted and produced by me, Jenny Curtis with the guest O. T. Fagbenle. The executive producer of Hollywood Unscripted is Stuart Halperin. The Hollywood Unscripted theme song is by Celleste and Eric Dick. Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss any special episodes of Hollywood Unscripted stuck at home, and we want to hear from you. If you like something, let us know, and if you don't, let us know what we could do better. Stay safe and healthy, and thanks for listening. ( music) CurtCo Media. Media for your mind.

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