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Mike Afolarin on Preparing for the Thrilling Lead Role in Netflix’s “Far From Home”

With an all-star cast that includes Genoveva Umeh, Olumide Oworu, Elma Mbadiwe, Richard Mofe Damijo, Funke Akindele Bello, Chioma Akpotha, Bimbo Akintola, Femi Branch, and Ufuoma Mcdermott, Netflix’s young adult Nollywood series “Far From Home” centres on Ishaya (played by Mike Afolarin), a charismatic teenager and talented artist from a poor family whose dreams suddenly appear within reach when a prestigious scholarship to the most exclusive school in the country catapults him into the affluent world of Nigeria’s elite. Meanwhile, a huge secret jeopardises Ishaya’s newfound status and, ultimately, the safety of his family.

It tells the age-old story of talent vs. opportunity, where talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not. Each of these worlds has a distinct story to tell, and Ishaya depicts them all.

The audition was how I landed the role. Shout out to my friend and colleague, Kolade Shasi. I believe he mentioned my name in the casting room. Soon after, he reached out to me and asked for my headshot. Then, due process prevailed, and after several auditions (self-tapes and physical), GOD DID!

What was it like to play the lead in a Netflix series? We imagine it must have been demanding. Walk us through your experience.

It was quite an amount of pressure, because firstly, to film this, I had to be “Far From Home.” It was generally a really busy time in my life. Despite the early call times and physically demanding scenes with multiple takes, I had a good time. I got to do what I love while working alongside some of my incredible friends and also the good people at Inkblot and, of course, Netflix, which made the journey a remarkable one. The entire cast and crew brought their A-game, and we had a wonderful time creating this masterpiece.

Tell us how Ishaya is similar to Mike without giving any spoilers. And would you trade lives with Ishaya, if given the choice?

Well, Ishaya saw plenty shege. He is very familiar with sapa, and thankfully Mike isn’t. It was a familiar experience for Mike a few years ago, but not anymore. I literally traded my life for Ishaya’s for a couple of months, and I totally had fun being him. As a matter of fact, I’m ready to do it again.

What was your favourite scene from Far From Home while playing Ishaya on set?

There are too many epic moments in “Far From Home.” Some of the highlights of filming “Far From Home” were working with my friends, the coolest people in the industry—both on and off screen—and OGs (legends and icons) in the industry like Funke Akindele, Bimbo Akintola, and RMD, whom I had watched on the screen since I was a kid. Every scene shared with them is special to me. It felt like a full-circle moment for me and my career.

Are we going to love or hate Ishaya? And why?

I think you will either hate or love him. It totally depends on the angle you’re watching from. I do love him wholeheartedly, though.

What do you hope audiences take away from Ishaya and Far From Home?

Hopefully, it isn’t the drugs… More seriously, I would say, “Your dreams are valid.” Regardless of what your reality is, don’t lose focus on your goals. I have seen this play out in my reality, not just in Ishaya’s world. Ishaya wants you to focus on the focus.

What is a typical day in the life of Mike Afolarin?

When I’m not on set filming or shooting drone shots, my typical day consists of me at home learning, researching, and trying to get enough rest in preparation for when I have to return to set.

What’s next from Mike Afolarin?

Frankly, I’m taking each day one step at a time. I will definitely keep pushing myself to do my best on every project I get to be a part of and to continue to allow myself to be a vessel for each new character and story. I’m looking forward to producing a couple of stories as well, and I’m just honestly hoping that God’s grace completes my hard work.

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