Amadou is set to grace our screens in the blockbuster ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’. Amadou plays the newest Vampire ‘Henry’, a part that was specially written into the legendary movie by the writers. Henry is part of the duo that makes up the much-anticipated French Coven, so having French as a second language made him more prominent to producers.
His screen presence and natural gift for acting have already projected this once shy young man into the public eye. Allied with handsome looks and bright mind he has also gained a big fan base, which is sure to expand when his character of Henry is revealed in Twilight: Breaking Dawn.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ADUNAGOW MAGAZINE BELOW:[PERSONAL] AM: How did you get into acting?
AL: In 2006, I participated in a robotic competition and we won the New York City regional Championship. However, I was undocumented and had been living on my own since 14. My story caught massive media attention and I started doing interviews, but I used to be very shy.
AM: Yes, that’s what we heard; you took acting to overcome your shyness. True?
AL: Totally. I used to be very shy. So a friend recommended that I start taking acting classes and after taking acting classes I fell in love with acting and changed my major from engineering to theater. I changed my major because I felt understood in the acting world. I felt that I could finally express my true feelings without being judge. And as an artist I am able to use my pain and turn it into a beautiful picture.
AM: Has acting always been your childhood dream?
AL: I always thought I was going to become the biggest scientist/engineer. But yes I knew I had an entertainment side in me, but I wasn’t sure. Besides, in school I was known as the math and science nerd. But there were day when I thought maybe I should become a musician or a politician (laugh), but I felt home once I found acting.
AM: If you happen to do something other than acting, what would be your first choice?
AL: A Psychologist simply because acting gave me the opportunity to accumulate knowledge on human psych. But I also love programming computers because I love math and I get overwhelmingly joyful whenever I solve a math problem. Weird; I know. I actually wouldn’t mind being a math instructor.
AM: What can a handsome young male like you be shy about?
AL: Well, my shyness came from numbers of insecurities and growing up in an environment where people usually tell you that you’re not perfect. I guess I was handsome and shy. I don’t know if that sounds sexy or not. (Laugh)
AM: Any brothers and sisters?
AL: Let’s just say I almost have a total of 30 siblings. Yep. (Laugh) I guess my dad is definitely not the shy type. Hopefully he won’t read this part. (Laugh)
AM: What does your family think of your acting career?
AL: I had a full scholarship and some of the biggest university in the nation accepted me but I gave everything up to pursue acting. My family definitely had doubts and it got to the point where they wanted me to quit and go back to school but luckily I resisted and followed my dreams.
AM: Are you still going to pursue Engineering? It appears that you excel in Science and Technology as well.
AL: I definitely plan on going back to school because I love education. Engineering for me is a hobby and I love programming because it involves math. But I might go back just to further my knowledge in math so I can teach at a university level. But as of now it is all about acting.
AL: I am really blessed. I learned about the role and my agent got me the appointment. I went in and did the magic. As far as my preparation I got informed from watching all the films and speaking to a lot of my friends who are twi-hards. However, the character Henri wasn’t in the book so I took all the juicy details from sides (audition script) mixed it with a lot of my imagination and I became fully ready.
AM: Were you nervous during your audition for the part?
AL: No, I wasn’t nervous for audition because I went in fully prepared and I had a lot of confidence in my preparation. But, the audition scene that I performed involved the character being nervous so I think if I was nervous I might of use it to my benefit.
AM: Do you think the fact that you also speak French contributed to you getting the role for Henri?
AL: Totally. Henri is a French vampire, so yes. But I think in every audition there will always be a number of factors, which makes one person stand out. Sometimes it is the look, other times it is your eye color (laugh), that’s why I usually just focus on the work because it can drive you insane.
AM: What other languages do you speak?
AL: I speak a bit of Arabic because I grew up studying Arabic and I took some classes in college. I am also fluent in Wolof (Senegalese traditional language) and of course French and English.
AM: Who do you enjoy working with most?
AL: I am definitely grateful for having the opportunity of working with Bill Condon (The director). In 2006, I watched his film Dream girls and Jennifer Hudson’s character Effie inspired me and gave me more hope and courage to pursue my dreams. Therefore having the opportunity to work with the same director is a dream that become true. He is such a loving and a phenomenal director.
AM: We know the public (especially young girls) is going to go banana over you after this. What can we expect next for Amadou?
AL: The fans are wonderful and sweet. They made Twilight the number one movie in the world and we’re all grateful for their great support. I think they’ll love Breaking Dawn 2 even more. There are a lot of surprises coming their way. My next project will be with Jessica Goldberg who is an amazing writer and director. I play a role that is very close to my life story as an immigrant and I am excited because people will see me in a different light. I’ll talk about it more after all the negotiation process are over.
AM: Any African films in your future?
AL: I would like to work with upcoming African directors; I love Nigerians and Ghanaian films, so hopefully they won’t be shy to approach me regarding their projects.
AM: At 23, what runs in your mind constantly when it comes to your career as an actor?
AL: 24/7 I am always thinking about my career and what steps I need to take. I always ask myself: Am I doing all that I can do to get the next opportunity? How can I be more ready for the next opportunity and what aspects of the business I need to learn more? Having agents and managers is great but I feel that it isn’t enough. I actually think soon my representation will force me to take a vacation. I can see it coming (Laugh). I love working.
AM: How has your entourage changed since you’ve moved to Hollywood?
AL: I am definitely cautious about my entourage. I have few trustworthy friends that I like going to dinner with. But I mostly like staying home and watch or read book, and I also go out to bars occasionally.
AM: People tend to forget that movie stars also watch TV. What are your favorites top five TV show lately?
AL: I love Entourage but it ended. I am looking forward to Californication and at the moment I like Revenge, Homeland and sometimes Game of Thrones.
AL: I moved to US in 2001; I was 13.
AM: What do you remember of Senegal?
AL: Senegal is such a lovely place, I mean, I remember almost everything. I love the food and the beach. I also love how it is such a peaceful place. I remember playing soccer during after school and going to the mosque during the month of Ramadan. I am huge fan of Mballax (The Senegalese traditional music).
AM: Do you follow news about Africa?
AL: I am always reading news about Africa.
AM: If you could change one issue in Africa, which problem will you solve first?
AL: We have such a beautiful continent full of gifts and I want my brothers and sisters in Africa to appreciate what we have. Literally, everything comes from Africa and if one sacrifices a bit it can change a whole generation. Abrams Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
AL: Few years ago I crashed at a Phillip Noyce movie premiere because I wanted to meet him and tell him to hire me because I am a great actor. But most importantly I wanted to see what it was like to go to a movie premiere at the Los Angeles Chinese theater, So I spent my last $150 renting a tuxedos but right before I got into the backdoor of the theater I got caught by security. And of course they threw me out and luckily I wasn’t arrested.
AM: What are your likes and dislikes?
AL: I love good energy and positivity. I believe we are whom we choose to be in this world. And I am not a huge fan of people that don’t pursue their dreams. It is a huge turn off for me.
AM: How do you stay fit?
AL: I like going to the gym 6 times a week. I love hiking and jogging and I also do a bit of Martial Arts.
AM: What’s your favorite sport?
AL: I don’t follow any sports. But I like soccer and basketball.
AL: Be ready for a journey and be in it for the right reason. Be ready to give it all. It is definitely not an easy profession but if it is your dream to become an actor than by all means you should pursue it. The number one thing I stress the most is TRAINING. Even Al Pacino still trains. However, acting is not academic where a great student meets a great recognition. It takes ridiculous hard work and a lot of patience. After all I don’t believe in overnight success but each actor’s journey is different. But if I can make it you sure can. You might face eviction today and have a movie premiere tomorrow (laugh) so be ready to laugh it all off. And remember to have faith in yourself because we were all born to become a star.
ADUNAGOW Magazine: NOV/DEC 2011 Issue
NOV/DEC 2011 Issue of ADUNAGOW Magazine. Exclusive coverage with Hollywood stars Amadou Ly and Tehmina Sunny.