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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Anna Nicole's Segun Akande

by Susan Yung

Akande (center) in Anna Nicole. Photo by Stephanie Berger.
This inaugurates a new series, the BAM Blog Questionnaire, in which we'll chat with visiting artists. Segun Akande, who plays a news reporter in Anna Nicole, is from Fort Greene, and came to BAM as a child. After performing in regional theater productions, he has moved back to the neighborhood, and is extremely happy that family and friends can see him on BAM's stage.

Which artist do you admire from a field other than your own?  
I admire any artist, as Don Was said, who reaches the height of their creativity, their freedom, their experimentation, and their fearlessness. Right now, I'm digging on The Funk Brothers, who basically created the musical foundation of Motown. Yet they aren't widely known today because they went uncredited during Motown's heyday. For example, the bass player, James Jamerson, was a musical genius who changed the chorus of bass forever. He received little recognition for his work, and still created something that never existed before. I admire that!

Actress Donnetta Lavinia Grays with Akande 
What's the biggest risk you've taken?
My biggest risk has been choosing a professional life in the arts.  My entry point was unconventional and I had stability, security, and, for the moment, was content following a more conventional script. So leaving that world for the often chaotic and unpredictable world of the arts felt like a big risk for me. But ultimately, that leap allowed me to be my most authentic self and gave me freedom to do what I love. I've become more intimate with uncertainty and rejection and embracing "failure." It's like jumping off a building... there's no jumping back up.

What's your favorite food in the neighborhood?
There are so many good spots to choose from, but I am a regular at Buka on Fulton Street between Cambridge Place and St. James. It feels like a home away from home.

What ritual or superstition do you have on performance days?
I used to have a whole ritual but I'm moving away from locking myself into anything. I'm learning to trust the work and go from there. I was overthinking and rigid routines were slowing me down. So I got rid of them because I don't want to choke on thought. I wanted to rely more on natural instincts and impulses. The one constant, however, is relaxation. Yoga and singing wildly in the shower go a long way. I can't help myself.

What are you looking forward to most about the run at BAM?
I am looking forward to being in this moment and making the most out of this experience. I look forward to learning more about myself, learning from the cadre of brilliant artists I'm so fortunate to play with, and telling this new story without any inclination of how the audience will respond.  I find that so exciting!

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