‘I attempted suicide at 16’ — Akinnuoye-Agbaje turns tragic childhood into movie
‘Farming’ stars Kate Beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Genevieve Nnaji.
The movie tells the story of a young Nigerian boy ‘farmed out’ by his parents to a white British family in the hope of a better future.
But things did not go as planned, forcing the boy to join a white supremacist skinhead gang, after being incessantly bullied by the group. He eventually rose to become the leader of the feared, violent gang.
In an interview with Deadline, the Nigerian-British Hollywood star said he attempted to commit suicide when he was 16 after facing extreme racism and violence in Britain.
The actor said he was fostered by his Nigerian parents into a white working-class family in Tilsbury, Essex.
This practice, which was common in Britain in the ’70s, is called farming. Families accept custody of a child in exchange for payment.
At that time, the ‘Suicide Squad’ actor said he saw death as freedom and the incident became a turning point for him.
“I remember distinctly having failed at death, you know, so how do I now succeed at life? How do I move forward? And I just didn’t have the tools. I didn’t think I had the tools. Until somebody gives you an opportunity, which is hope,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje said.
“I was so beaten down by my self-hatred, engendered by the various forms of racism, that I had no self-worth whatsoever. Then to start to piece that together is a really arduous, miraculous journey.
“I think the turning point for me was the passing of my first exam. I still weep when I think about it because I never thought I could achieve anything. I never thought I was worth anything.
“Today, it’s still the formula I use, because passing that exam—and it wasn’t like I got an A or anything—it was when I knew that with effort, focus, and determination, I could achieve something. That’s the same formula I’ve used throughout my life.”