Meet Rotimi: Singer and Secret Movie Star

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You may have seen Rotimi in recent films like Divergent and Black Nativity, but don’t think for a minute this star in the making plans on slowing things down. In fact, with a new single, an indie film under his belt and a starring role in 50 Cent’s “Power,” he’s quickly proving he’s here to stay.


Rotimi is easily noticeable with his boy-next-door charm and thespian savvy. He’s set to star alongside stars like Naturi Naughton and Omari Hardwick, and with his upcoming EP “Rotation,” he’s putting in the work. He spoke to The DM about his recent successes, working with T.I., and what keeps him driven.

So glad you could join us. How are you today?

I’m doing well. How’s everything?

Really good. You’re definitely a busy guy, and you’ve been filming Power, so how has that been?Can you tell us a bit about your character?

It’s been amazing. My character – I play Dre. I’m basically 50 Cent’s protégé. He plays Kanan in the show. I’m his protégé and we have a set plan to bring down Ghost, so that’s where we’re at right now, but yeah, it’s been amazing. I’ve been able to just learn so much just being around Omari, 50, Naturi, La La – everybody has just been super great, and we had just a great learning experience.

It sounds really exciting. You mention you worked really closely with 50 Cent What’s that’s like? What are you learning from it all?

I’m learning how to be a professional. I’m also learning how to maximize every opportunity. I’m learning how to move in a room full of vultures, ya know what I mean – just putting it into perspective, just being able to read people better to, so everything’s been really good.

So, how did you get into acting?

Well, it was God, honestly. I booked my first audition with a show called Boss, and I did that for two seasons, and I kind of just caught the acting bug from there, and just been working ever since.

Okay so you’ve been doing the acting thing on the TV screen, but I know you’ve also been working on the silver screen, and you recently worked with director Malik Vitthal on the film Imperial Dreams. Do you want to tell us about the movie and what you liked about playing the character, Wayne? 

Oh man, it was great. We won Sundance, so that was an experience. Coming from a movie that we didn’t really spend that much money-making, it was just interesting to see how people gravitated towards it and how people loved it and how heartfelt it was, and it was a passion project. It became a passion project for all of us, so we all just want to see it win because it’s setting the tone and telling a story that hasn’t been said before, so this was one of my favorite projects that I’ve done so far.

It got really great reviews. Were you surprised by the reception? 

Oh man, we were really, really surprised by it all because we had people leaving there crying, and we had people just emotionally blown away by it, and it was just like “wow, we did this? We were able to touch people this deeply,” so it was a good feeling…We were leaving the theater and knowing that we just made an impact on people’s lives. 

I know you’re also still working with T.I., and you recently paired up with him for his new video G’ Shit, and can we expect a musical collaboration in the near future?

Well, we’ve talked about it a couple[of] times, but he’s just a very busy man and so am I, so it’s all about timing and the right record, but that’s definitely a possibility. We’re working on modifying my single, “Lotto”, right now, so once we get Lotto established and get that going, we’ll start having those conversations again.

Speaking of “Lotto”, it definitely sounds like a club banger, and I just want to know what inspired this track and what can fans expect from your upcoming EP, Rotation?

Well, since you’re asking…it’s one of those records where it actually happened very organically. Nothing was planned. We were actually working on another song called See You Later, and when the producer kind of made a long chord, he was like looking for sound for See You Later, and he then he just started the dum, duh, dum, duh, dum, dum, dum…he just played that part of the beat, and we we’re like “Yo, that right there is another song.” So, we’re working on that and so we did that and the…We wanted a song that made people feel like they hit the jackpot by getting with whoever they wanted, like somebody they didn’t expect that they could have…that kind of thing.

So, just speaking of music in general, what musical artists inspired you growing up? 

I like Paul Thomas. I love Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, Lauren Hill, and I’d say Tupac.

All right, so you have a very soulful, kind of, background in music, and you’re inspired by that.

Yeah, yeah.

Switching back to the acting tip, what actor would you absolutely love to work with on the silver screen?

I would love to work with…I’d say Robert De Niro and Robert Downey Jr.

Awesome, they’re intense, definitely. If you had to pick any Hollywood actress to be your love interest on the screen, who would that be?

Um…I’d say, Jordin Sparks.

Ah, Jordin Sparks. 

I like her, yeah. She’s nice. And then there’s a girl from Beyond The Lights named Gugu who I think is really dope too.

Oh wow, good choices! So, I know you talked about your TV debut in Boss. You worked with Kelsey Grammer. What was your reaction when you first heard you got the part? How did you feel?

Oh man, I kind of just um…Ya know what, at first I didn’t know what I just had accomplished because I didn’t know the magnitude of what it would be for me. I was like oh I booked a show, guys, and nobody around me really knew what that meant either, so they were all like what’s up, bro. So, as time went on and I’m with Kelsey Grammer and just being on set and just seeing everything and then getting that first check, and I’m like “oh, this is real,” but it was like a gradual understanding of what it was, and I’m just like…it became a super, super, super, super humbling moment to me.

Now that you’re ingratiated in the industry, I know there’s a lot of pressure, what keeps you grounded? 

What keeps me grounded is the fear of failure. So I always want to work super hard and stay focused because I’m so terrified of failing, and with the support system that I have, my mom, my dad, my team, and just my drive and just literally the failure of losing, that kind of just keeps me grounded and focused and continue to trying to get better and better and do more things.

Is your family definitely a place that you go to feel grounded?

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. My mom is my best friend, and I talk to her like at least once a day. 

Now that you are exploring the world and doing a lot more things, is there a place that you would love to visit but you just haven’t been yet?

I would love to visit Dubai. I’d say Dubai.

Dubai?

Yeah. I’d say Dubai. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I definitely want to check that out, I think. I’ve heard so many cool things about it and I think it’s just somewhere I could picture myself being for a little bit. I’d definitely say Dubai.

One last thing. Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?

Well, my fans can all follow me on my social media:

Twitter @Rotimi, Instagram @RotimiMusic, Facebook rotimi1, and just keep supporting. It’s going to be a great year. The single is coming out. Official release is coming out soon, and we going to keep killing ’em. Power comes out this summer.

 Check out Rotimi’s single “Lotto” on Soundcloud:

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Kenya Evans

by Kenya Evans

Special Contributor. Kenya has been a writer for as long as she could remember. A fashionista with a love of the arts, Kenya’s background in social justice inspires her to help make the world a better place, one written word at a time. When not writing, she can be seen on underground stages across Chicago as a tribal belly dancer and classical Indian dance student of Bharatnatyam.