He finds the most beauty in connection - to himself and to others - whether it’s during a Saturday afternoon football game or in a church pew. He’s attracted to a story as much as its secrets: the kind that is found in the dripping graffiti on a glass door at the corner store; the story that's in a picture of Muhammad Ali in a London barber shop. His thought-provoking nature truly shines through as we discuss his formative years, and the role of media in life. His appreciation for real-life stories underscores his curiosity for the world around him. His acting journey has brought him closer to the art of storytelling, and he acknowledges the responsibility that comes with each role. Responsibility is a heavy word, and it looks impressive on his shoulders.
Araloyin’s role as Stefan in Netflix’s Top Boy has been key to broadening his perspective, despite his role hitting close to home (literally home - it is set in East London, where Araloyin grew up). The series is underpinned by authenticity that doesn’t pale even when presented under a more negative light. This is exactly what intrigues Araloyin - authenticity that doesn’t partition out ‘good’ from ‘bad.’ With each scene, he weaves the unseen threads of subtext into the narrative fabric. From the silhouettes of his nuanced expressions to the symphonies of his dialogue, his performances transcend mere depiction.
If there’s one thing I took away from our conversation, it’s that leadership and legacy matter to him. He strides with purpose, embodying the spirit of those who paved the path before him. We talk about redemption, and his answers make clear his enduring belief in positive potential, in anyone. His emotions are an integral part of him, and his openness in sharing them further strengthens his connection with humanity, and subsequently in his work. He aspires for his name to evoke happiness - a simple ask, but again, a heavy purpose. He makes depth feel easy.
Top Boy season five will be available to stream on Netflix starting 7th September 2023.
Tell me about the impact of media on you - films, music, and books. They play a huge role during formative years. Do you have any favourites from your childhood or teenage years?
Definitely, everyone has that one favourite movie, book, or music from back then. I used to be into documentaries. Real-life stories always intrigued me.
Do you recall a specific documentary that left a mark on you?
Yeah, I remember one about the way Genghis Khan conquered half the world, creating the Mongol Empire. It stood out because it showed his ambition and the negative side of his actions. Everything you do has consequences, whether positive or negative, and it leaves a mark on history.
Any quotes or themes from that documentary that stayed with you?
I can't recall the exact quote, but it was about how when he died, the location of his burial was kept secret. It fascinated me how even in death, there were secrets surrounding him.
If you could step into the shoes of any historical or literary figure, who would it be and why?
Oh, that's a great question. Can it be a real-life person or does it have to be fictional?
It can be anyone, real or fictional.
Well, if I had to choose, I'd say Mansa Musa. He was a remarkable leader who left a legacy and even impacted the world economy. His wisdom and ability to influence people on such a grand scale would be incredible to experience.
That's a unique choice. So, getting into your own journey, has your perspective on acting changed since you started your role in Top Boy?
Definitely. I've started taking acting more seriously, realising that each scene or movie is like portraying someone else's life. It's made me understand that every role is an opportunity to shed light on different aspects of the world, whether positive or negative. It's become a responsibility to tell stories authentically.
Your performance in the series has been impressive. How do you prepare yourself for your role? Do you read certain books or talk to people to get into character?
For my role, I infused personal elements from my own life, especially my relationship with my older siblings. I empathise with my character's background. Also, growing up in Hackney, the same area as the series is set, I could draw from real experiences to make it authentic.
So, about the actors' guide you published - what's one guideline you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
I'd emphasise the importance of learning different accents. It's a skill that can open up diverse roles and help in many situations, both on and off-screen. Accents are keys to different characters.
Accents can really transform a character. Do you have a favourite accent to portray?
I enjoy the American accent, but it's also quite challenging due to its variations across the country. I've also worked on RP, which is the first accent I tackled and it's quite versatile.
That’s so impressive. As the series concludes, what makes this last chapter so meaningful for you?
The closing chapter is significant because it's the culmination of years of work and dedication. It's a wake-up call for me, realising how far I've come since the beginning. This season will be impactful for many viewers, and I'm excited about its impact.
It must be incredible to see how far you've come. Is there any other show you'd love to be a part of, like something you watched growing up?
I've always been a fan of comedies like "Little Britain" and "My Wife and Kids." Also, series like "Black Mirror" and movies such as "Rush Hour" appeal to me.
Those are some great choices. Moving deeper, your insights on storytelling and human nature are intriguing. Do you believe that anyone can be redeemed if we understand their story?
I believe everyone goes through different experiences, and it's impossible to fully know their struggles. Redemption is possible for anyone, and understanding their story is a key step towards that. We all make choices influenced by our circumstances, so judgement should be tempered with empathy.
That's a compassionate perspective. So, what's the driving force behind your decisions and actions? What's your "why"?
My main driving force is to set a positive path for future generations. I want to leave behind a legacy of positivity and help those from similar backgrounds overcome challenges. I want to show that with support and effort, great things are achievable.
That's a noble purpose. Do you find it easy to express your emotions?
I'm quite emotional and expressive. Whether I'm happy or upset, it's usually evident on my face. I believe emotions should be shared, as they connect us as humans.
Absolutely. Managing emotions is important. Speaking of emotions, how do you handle audition setbacks or rejection in the competitive world of acting?
When facing rejection, I always seek feedback. I see rejection as a redirection towards something better suited for me. Every "no" has a lesson, and I implement that feedback to improve and grow.
That's a healthy approach. Your perseverance is commendable. Moving towards personal influences, who has been your most profound inspiration, and what qualities do you admire in them?
My older brother and my mum have been my inspirations. Their leadership, rational thinking, and constant push for the best are qualities I deeply admire.
Any advice from them that has stuck with you?
They've taught me to put family first no matter what, and my mum has emphasised finding my purpose in life. When you know your purpose, everything falls into place.
Purpose is important. And what qualities do you admire in yourself the most?
I'd say my ability to adapt and connect with different environments and people. I enjoy bringing joy and positivity wherever I go.
That's a wonderful trait. So, how do you manage your acting career alongside education and personal pursuits?
While in school, I'd stay late to catch up on studies after filming. It required balancing and dedication, but it's been manageable.
That sounds like quite a juggling act. What else brings you joy besides your career?
I'm a big football fan. I also love going to church, and it's something that brings me peace.
Football and spirituality – both great sources of joy. Lastly, when people hear your name, what emotions or impressions do you want them to associate with you and your work?
I'd love for people to smile and feel happiness when they hear my name. I hope they associate me with positive emotions and impactful storytelling.