Darone Nkem Okolie is an Atlanta-based promising young actor making waves with his method acting and ability to play a diversity of characters. In his short career as a performer in short films, TV films and more recently in webseries, Darone has warmed himself into the hearts of viewers around the world.
Born in Washington, D.C. to Sheila Lucas and Alexander Okolie, he considered John Ellis Nabinett Jr, a police officer and former football coach as his father while growing up.
Darone traveled out of Washington D.C. as much as possible because of the violence, and found his passion for acting as a solace most of the time. During his high school years, he began playing football and baseball, and he excelled – winning several titles. He landed a $50,000 scholarship and was faced with the option of Acting school at American Academy Of Dramatic Arts (AADA) or Clark Atlanta University (CAU).
He opted for Clark Atlanta University because he wanted that college experience and to be the first generation graduate from college. He used college as a way to chase his dreams as a actor and that brought him to Atlanta, Ga.
I caught up with Darone to find out more about his journey into acting, family, passion and future plans among others.
How would you describe yourself?
My full name is Darone Nkem Okolie. Most people would describe me as an character but I would just say I’m a humble, hungry dude that came from nothing and want the best out of life because I have seen the worst already. My faith in God has grown tremendously but not through success; just for listening to that 6 year old prayer in the shower years back and having faith in me to carry his glory.
How was your childhood like? Did you ever live in Nigeria?
I grew up in S.E Washington, D.C. My childhood was tough but it wasn’t the location that made it tough. It was the people and their vibes. My city trains you mentally and physically to protect yourself but everybody was inside a box when I was coming up. I wanted better for myself so I made several sacrifices to win in life, and that was through athletics and education. Graduating from college at Clark Atlanta University was not just my goal, it was proof that young black men in my city could do more for themselves and I wanted to challenge the system that said we couldn’t. I traveled a lot as a teen but never to Nigeria because of the passing of my father, so I decided when I graduated that I was gone travel there to embrace the heritage and culture my family honour.
Did you have troubles with your Nigerian father growing up as your online profile seem to suggest?
Establishing my career as a performer meant making my story public to the world. I was always nervous of how I would speak of who my dad was because I grew up in a place where I didn’t know who my father was, but I knew what a father was supposed to be like (If that makes sense). I had several people come around claiming to own the title “Father” but the only person I considered “DAD” was John Nabinett.
My Nigerian dad was not absent he came around but It takes more than that to be a dad. Everything I am came from my mother Sheila Lucas and John. It’s hard to speak on a man that’s not here no more by the grace of God. I did grow up with my Nigerian family also, but I don’t know them as well as I wanted. So, I still have some family bonding to do.
How did acting start for you?
As a kid, I was always active and re-enacting whatever I saw. I didn’t know I had a gift until I started bringing my family’s attention to it every holiday, performing songs and monologues. Unfortunately, I could never turn it on in class when I had to get up and speak. So, I decided to research the way actors got into characters to portray somebody else on screen. Being that I was really shy as a kid, I let my pride stop me from certain opportunities. Therefore, I mastered the art of method acting and my improv skills came natural. I didn’t have a Theatre Program in any of my schools so everything I learned was through experience.
What has your journey into acting been like?
My journey into acting has been amazing. After spending my whole life in D.C., I knew Atlanta, GA was where I needed to be. This is my 4th year here and I’m filming more than ever. Every challenge that I’ve been through had been a blessings because I learned so much from them. The biggest challenge as an actor is knowing yourself so you won’t lose yourself to your character. The highlight of my career would have to be my tour to LA, a month ago. That’s when I knew that all my hard work was paying off.
What has been your most memorable role yet?
I’ve played every role you could think of from gangster, doctor, policemen, to zombie characters. The most exciting role for me thus far would have to be a film where I got hung on a tree. It taught me so much and disciplined me as an actor. Diversity is key in this industry so I make sure I select roles that show every part of life.
You have also been involved in web-based movies and series, do you see that as the future?
I actually don’t have a lot of Web Based movies or shows. I just recently did my first Web Series called ” About Him”. This was a struggle for me even though I’m not gay because the attention I was getting from it. The Internet phenomenon is huge because there are so many websites sponsoring shows and movies. Especially, for upcoming writers and producers that don’t have the money.The Internet is the perfect spot to get your work out there.
Do you have any major projects in the pipeline?
“Do more and talk less” is the quote I go by. There’s a couple big movies in the pipeline but I can’t share the information until it’s final.You can follow my IG: @Darone.Okolie or check my IMDB to check out my credits if interested.
Where do you want to go with your acting career?
I’m living my dream as we speak. My ambitions as an actor is to be as consistent as possible and remember how I got here. I want to be able to take care of myself and my family so I have a long way to go.
Many actors with African roots are making waves in hollywood, what do you think of the development?
I haven’t met too many actors with African roots in Hollywood, but I’m sure there are some great talented folks out here. Having that root makes us unique and opens the door to so many roles.
Are your familiar Nollywood and would you consider a role in Nollywood?
Yes, I am familiar with the Nollywood industry. I actually auditioned for a project shooting in Africa. Hopefully, I’m looking to work a lot more over there once I graduate and take time out on my schedule.
What should your growing fanbase expect from you in the future?
I have 6 films coming out this year that you can expect and they are ‘The Products of the American Ghetto’, ‘The Rookies’, ‘Strikers’, ‘My Annoying Dead Brother’, ‘Turnt’, ‘Money Back Guaranteed’, and ‘The Liar, The Snob, and The Bully’. There is also a music video that I’m featured in called “Pipe Dreams” by Salim Bakari..