O. T. Fagbenle

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O-T Fagbenle
MEN awards.jpg
Born Olatunde Olateju Olaolorun
(1981-01-22) 22 January 1981 (age 36)
London, England
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor, songwriter, director
Years active 2002–present

Olatunde Olateju Olaolorun "O. T." Fagbenle,[1][2] also spelled O-T and O.T, is a British actor, writer and director. He has appeared in several films, stage and television productions.

Early life[edit]

Born in London to a Nigerian journalist father and a British mother, Fagbenle moved to Spain as a child and started learning the alto saxophone. Within a year he was playing for the South Coast Jazz Band and toured the Edinburgh Festival.[3][4] He moved back to England where he continued to perform as a musician in big bands at the Wembley Arena and the Royal Albert Hall.[3] His name "Olatunde" means "Wealth comes again" in Yoruba.[5] His younger brother is actor and film producer Luti Fagbenle.[6]

Acting career[edit]


He started acting at the age of 14 for the Ritual Theatre Arts and was given the lead role in an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, performing at international venues and at central London's Bloomsbury Theatre. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts[3] and graduated early to make his graduate debut at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester in Les Blancs in 2001.

Fagbenle continued his Shakespearean roles performing in Romeo and Juliet as Mercutio in a national tour culminating at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2004. The Evening Telegraph said of his performance, "O-T Fagbenle achieves the impossible by almost overshadowing the young lovers with his inspired performance of Mercutio".[7]

Fagbenle was soon offered his first all out lead. Outstanding reviews[8][9][10][11] preceded a M.E.N. Theatre award for best actor in a leading role[12] for his portrayal of a man claiming to be Sidney Poitier's son in John Guare's award-winning play Six Degrees of Separation.

In 2008, Fagbenle flew to Paris with world-renowned theatre director Peter Brook to help workshop and develop Brook's international production of Tierno Bokar.

Fagbenle played the role of Sportin' Life in Sir Trevor Nunn's award-winning production of Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre in the West End of London (a part played by Cab Calloway in the opera and Sammy Davis Jr. in the feature film).[13] Fagbenle received outstanding reviews across the board,[14][15][16][17][18] Variety magazine's review remarked 'There are moments everything take wing as a musical, mostly whenever Fagbenle's splendidly serpentine, easeful Sportin' Life is around. Light on his feet, his every moment is poised and polished.'[19]

In 2012 in London, England, Fagbenle took on the role of Slupianek, (originated by Alan Cumming) in The Conquest of the South Pole, at the Arcola and Rose Theatres. Again Fagbenle won critical acclaim across the board for his performance, with TimeOut, The British Theatre Guide, Spoonfed, Whatsonstage.com and industry standard 'The Stage' all praising his performance.[20][21][22][23][24] Fagbenle went on to be Panel nominated for 'Best Male Performance' at the prestigious Off West End Awards.[25]

It was announced by The Royal National Theatre, that Fagbenle would be cast as the lead in their 2016 production of the Award New York Drama Critic Circle Award-winning play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Fagbenle led his cast to win the prestigious Olivier Award for best revival.[26] BBC's Radio 4 said of his performance "Mesmeric - almost impossible to take your eyes off him." "I wanna see him again and again and again." " Rips your guts out."[citation needed]


Fagbenle has also appeared in Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella's movie Breaking and Entering[27] with Jude Law and Juliette Binoche.

Fagbenle portrayed Sean, an American television star opposite Oscar nominated Michelle Pfeiffer, in Amy Heckerling's I Could Never Be Your Woman.[28] Fagbenle had a lead role in both the highly successful Thorne movies Thorne, which adapted the Mark Billingham novels Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat.[29] They were directed by 24 producer Stephen Hopkins and the second starred Emmy award nominated actress Sandra Oh.


Fagbenle starred in a sitcom for the BBC called Grownups and appeared in the British TV series Agatha Christie's Marple. He also played 'Other Dave' in the two part Doctor Who story "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead".[30] He starred in Little Miss Jocelyn as Mrs Omwokwopopo's dead husband (number 2) and the YouTube hit Postman Black (2004–06). Fagbenle starred in two dramas for the BBC,[27] including the role of Walter Tull in Walter's War, a biopic of the first mixed-heritage officer in the British Army in which he again garnered outstanding international reviews.[31][32][33][34]

In January 2010 Fagbenle took a leading role as Chris in the BBC One flagship show Material Girl,[27] starring Dervla Kirwan (Doctor Who) and Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Sugar Rush). Off the back of his performance he went on to be cast in the 2011 American romantic comedy 'Double Wedding'.

Fagbenle also appeared as 'Mark Lightfoot' in episode six of the first season of Death in Paradise in 2011.

In 2012 after taking some time out to 'do some theatre and develop [his] writing projects' Fagbenle accepted a lead role in the BBC comedy Quick Cuts alongside cult comedy actress and star of Smack the Pony Doon Mackichan.

In 2014 Fagbenle starred in the first season of HBO's original drama Looking. He played 'Frank' a sweet hearted musician from Ohio having trouble with his live in partner. He reprised the role in 2015 for season 2.

In 2014, BBC Drama cast Fagbenle in the lead role of their criminal drama The Interceptor. Filming began in London in April 2014. In 2015 O-T was nominated and awarded by the MViSA awards for BEST MALE ACTOR for his performance in The Interceptor.[35]

After appearing in the second season of HBO's Looking, Fagbenle was cast as the lead in American crime writer Harlan Coben's original drama series The Five which first aired in April 2016 on the Sky 1 channel in the United Kingdom.[36]

On 14 November 2016 he appeared in a BBC2 adaptation of Zadie Smith's novel NW.


For several months in 2004 he took the part of Kwame in the BBC World Service radio soap opera Westway.

He has performed multiple times for the BBC including the lead role in Six Degrees of Separation, playing Marvin Gaye in a biopic, and two roles in the BBC Radio adaptation of The Color Purple, which went on to win the Sony Radio Academy Awards for Drama in 2009.[37]

Writing and directing[edit]

In 2008 he authored an article which appeared in a double page spread in the national Nigerian newspaper The Guardian about the life and times of Walter Tull.

In 2011 Fagbenle wrote and directed the cult black comedy Kandi and the Jinn.[38]

In 2012 Fagbenle was commissioned by the BBC to help develop the comedy Quick Cuts. Later that same year Fagbenle was commissioned by the Theatre Royal Stratford East to develop and write his one-man play Synthesis.

After a being awarded a fund by the Nigerian high commission/TRSE[clarification needed] to write and direct a teaser for his movie idea, Fagbenle was commissioned by Bafta-nominated Lutimedia to develop Big Bad Blood, a teen comedy television series.[39]

In 2014 Fagbenle wrote, directed and executive produced the short film Moth starring Tamzin Outhwaite. Moth was later made a part of the official selection at the Los Angeles Screamfest Film Festival, New York City Horror Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and in 2015 won Best Horror/Sci Fi at the London Short Film Festival.[citation needed]


Along with a starring actor credit, Fagbenle composed the music and penned the lyrics for several songs for the NBC drama Quarterlife, created by Marshall Herskovitz and Oscar-winner Ed Zwick.[40]

In 2011 Fagbenle co-wrote the song "Storm" for Grammy nominated artist Tyga on his Black Thoughts Vol. 2 mixtape and received over 8 million hits on worldstarhiphop.com.[41] The song features vocalist Stefano Moses, a long-time musical collaborator with Fagbenle.

Awards and history[edit]

In 2016 Fagbenle was nominated for BEST ACTOR, for the prestigious Evening Standard Awards, for playing the lead role of Levee in the Royal National Theatre's production of Ma Rainey. Other nominees that year were Sir Ian McKellen, Ralph Fiennes, Patrick Stewart and Kenneth Branagh.

In 2016 Fagbenle won an MVSA award for Best Actor for his acting in the titular role of The Interceptor on the BBC, and in the same year he was also nominated by the Screen Nation Awards for Best Actor for the same role.

In 2016 O-T Fagbenle led his cast to an Olivier Award - the most prestigious honour in British Theatre - with his portrayal of Levee in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, at the Royal National Theatre.[42]

Fagbenle has been honoured by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (of which Queen Elizabeth II is patron) by being included in the 100 faces of RADA along with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Clive Owen and Sir John Gielgud.[4]

Fagbenle is the first British actor of mixed race heritage to play a lead in a period drama in the history of UK television (Walter's War). He is also the first to play a leading role in an HBO series (Looking) and to win a best actor award at the M.E.N.

After John W Bubbles in the origingal opera and Sammy Davis Jr in the film Fagbenle originated the role of Sportin' Life in the world premiere of Porgy and Bess - The Musical at the Savoy theatre in London's West End.[43]

Fagbenle was awarded Best Actor in a Leading role at the M.E.N. awards for his performance in Six Degrees of Separation.[44]

He was the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 13th African Film Awards.[45]

Fagbenle originated the role of "Perry" in the Royal Court's production of the award-winning production of Fallout.[46]

In 2012 Fagbenle was nominated for Best Male Performance at the Off West End Awards for his 'charismatic'[20][21][22] portrayal of Slupianek in The Conquest of the South Pole.[25]

In 2015 Fagbenle was honoured by being nominated for "Best Male Performance on TV" by the Screen Nation Awards for his performance as Frank on HBO's Looking.[47]

In 2015 Fagbenle was nominated and won the award for Best SciFi/Horror for the short film he wrote and directed, Moth, at the London Short Film Festival.

In 2015 Fagbenle was nominated and awarded by the MViSA awards for BEST MALE ACTOR for his performance in The Interceptor.[35]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ ""Looking" Interview: O-T Fagbenle On Playing Frank And His Cool Name". newnownext.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "O-T Fagbenle…One of Many". ivymunro.com. 31 October 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c [1] ashbee.net, 15 March 2001.
  4. ^ a b [2] imdb.com, 11 November 2004.
  5. ^ "Olatunde". Online Nigeria: Nigerian Names and Meanings. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "O-T Fagbenle…One of Many". ivymunro.com. 31 October 2010. 
  7. ^ [3] findarticles.com, 13 November 2003.
  8. ^ [4] thestage.com, 10 May 2004.
  9. ^ Walker, Lynne (27 April 2004). "Six Degrees of Separation, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester". independent.com. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  10. ^ [5] guardian.co.uk, 27 April 2004.
  11. ^ [6] reviewsgate.com, 26 April 2004.
  12. ^ [7] britishtheatreguide.com, 9 December 2004.
  13. ^ O-T Fagbenle London.Broadway.com, 7 February 2007.
  14. ^ [8] africanmoviestar.com, 10 March 2010.
  15. ^ [9] reviewsgate.com, 22 November 2006.
  16. ^ [10] guardian.co.uk, 10 November 2006.
  17. ^ [11] indielondon.com, 10 November 2006.
  18. ^ [12] British theatre guide.com, 10 November 2006.
  19. ^ [13] Variety.com, 12 November 2006.
  20. ^ a b "The Conquest of the South Pole". onestopparts.co.uk. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  21. ^ a b [14] timeout.co.uk, 2 May 2012.
  22. ^ a b [15] britishtheatreguidet.co.uk, 2 May 2012.
  23. ^ [16] Thestage.com, 25 May 2012.
  24. ^ [17] whatsonstage.co.uk, 2 May 2012.
  25. ^ a b [18] offwestend.com, 25 May 2012.
  26. ^ [19] olivierawards.com, 25 May 2016.
  27. ^ a b c [20] imdb.com, 15 March 2001.
  28. ^ "I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)". IMDb. 11 May 2007. 
  29. ^ russellty300 (25 August 2011). "Thorne: Scaredycat (2010)". IMDb. 
  30. ^ Wicks, Kevin (March 3, 2014). "'Looking' for 'Doctor Who': Russell Tovey, O.T. Fagbenle's Whovian". BBC America. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  31. ^ [21] torontoist.com, 23 November 2009.
  32. ^ [22] thescotsman.com, 8 November 2008.
  33. ^ [23] telegraph.co.uk, 8 November 2008.
  34. ^ [24] thecustardtv.com, 11 November 2008.
  35. ^ a b "Movie Video & Screen Awards". Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  36. ^ Gerard O'Donovan (15 April 2016). "Harlan Coben's The Five is like a blood-spattered Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  37. ^ [25] bbc.co.uk, 24 October 2009.
  38. ^ [26] imbd.com, 24 May 2012.
  39. ^ "BIG BAD BLOOD TRAILER". Vimeo. 
  40. ^ [27] quarterlife.com, 18 September 2008.
  41. ^ [28] worldstarhiphop.com, 25 May 2012.
  42. ^ http://www.olivierawards.com/video/view/item358998/best-revival-ma-raineys-black-bottom/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. ^ "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess - West End - Tickets, Reviews, Info and More". theatermania. 
  44. ^ [29] citylife.co.uk, 16 March 2010.
  45. ^ Gbenga-Ogundare, Yejide (27 November 2008). "Night of glitz, as African Movie Award holds in London". modernghana.com. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  46. ^ "Fallout at The Royal Court Theatre". royalcourttheatre.com. 
  47. ^ "Screen Nation Awards". Doowebdev. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 

External links[edit]