Blacpire Sits Down With Aml Ameen, Star of Idris Elba Directed Film "Yardie"

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Yardie is a crime drama released in February 2018 and produced by Idris Elba. The film is based on the book written by Victor Headley, a Jamaican born author. Yardie is set in 1970’s Kingston, Jamaica and 1980’s Hackney, UK which takes us (the audience) on a journey centered around a young man called D who, after loosing his brother to a violent crime, embarks on a quest to seek vengeance. Today I am talking to the main man himself- Aml Ameen who plays D.

We are talking all things Yardie, his prior acting experience and what makes him “the best actor in the world!”

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We are talking all things Yardie, his prior acting experience and what makes him “the best actor in the world!”

So Aml, when and where did your love for acting start?

When did my love for acting start dad? [asking his dad] It was very early about 4 or 5 years old. My dad was in the music business before and so we grew up in an entertainment family. We used to put on shows, I’d always put on show with my siblings, I’m one of 8 children!

The reason I was asking him [his dad] Is because I usually say I was around 7 and I watched Home Alone with Macaulay Culkin but it actually goes back further than that because by that time I was in stage school. I went to stage school from 6-16 years old. So it kind of began around then. I used to watch a lot of old school movies with my mum. I just wanted to become an actor and I so I turned up to my dad one day- I think I was around 6 years old- and said, “Dad, I want to be an actor” and he said, “you sure son?”

So he sent me to stage school the next month. I went to stage school which was with my normal school from 6-16 so I grew up in the business and around that time I worked in West End, Oliver Twist in the West End… worked with Michael Jackson when I was 11. I grew up doing it- musical theatre, dancing, singing. And then I was around 16/17 is when I got my first big break as a serious actor.

Yardie came out in cinemas on 31st August did you think it was well received?

Yardie…wow. I was here promoting and imagine this feeling…just imagine it yeah: Everywhere you go you see you face on billboards, on busses… you’ve got friends you haven’t seen in years telling you they’ve seen it. It was one of the first times in my career (and I’ve had a few moments) but I said to myself “You know what, I made it, I’ve made it! I’ve made it, is official.”

It was a beautifully rewarding feeling and then when it came out people were going really crazy, I mean people were tracking my career from Kidulthood to Maze Runner to The Butler to Sense8 and various different projects but I think this one meant a lot to people just because they saw quite the transformation to who they usually experience when theyre talking to me and so I loved it man!

It’s a special film to me because it deals with my heritage as well. My parents are form the Caribbean. My mums Jamaican so I grew up with that sub culture. You know, my dad had clubs when I was a kid, in Hackney, so the clubs would play that type of music. I grew up listening to sound system culture as a child looking up to it, so to be there, seeing how it would be like for my dad in the 80s when he first came to the country. And to see what it would be like for my dad in the 80s- how they moved, how they talked. Their clothes were smooth back then, people made an EFFORT! Or back in the day when you want to talk to a lady, and you want to go ask her for a dance, you’d actually have to ask her “would you mind taking this dance with me” like all of those things. It’s just like an etiquette and class and a romance. There’s a real romance to Yardie that I love and so I loved it and I think it really reached a great audience.

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How would you describe your character, D, in one sentence?

If I had to describe him in a sentence alone, I would describe D as a beautiful Greek tragedy. He’s a tragic guy. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across somebody who is incredibly unlucky and they were born into a circumstance that was incredibly tragic, so when we first meet D the only person we know that loves him is his brother. It forges the question about what happened to his mum and dad? So, I would describe him as a great tragic hero, one that we root for because we know that he’s got a heart. It’s almost like a lot of young people these days that are caught up in certain lifestyles- something bad happens and you cant even let it go-they’ve still got that trauma. And that’s why I think Yardi relates to young audiences as well. For a lot of young men- and women but especially for a lot of young men, letting it go is not an option. So, I’d describe him as a ‘great tragic hero.’

Let’s discuss a bit about Idris Elba, so he made his director debut on this film. How was it like to work with him and is he as chilled as he seems?

Idris is very chill. That’s a good adjective to describe him. He’s a very chill guy. He’s quite reserved naturally but a great collaborator. He gave me this part two years before we actually got on set and I happened to be on the flight with him from London to Los Angeles by accident and he had watched me in the film [The Maze runner] and said he wanted to offer me this part of D in Yardie so that’s how it happened. He gave me the opportunity then trusted I’d do the work. He set the parameters of what he wanted and then trusted- and that’s one of the things I admire about him. He’s defiantly a gentle soul. Its very interesting to be someone that’s so famous and known but to be shy and quite gentle especially as a big, tall, large figure.

You got your offer for this film when you were in the lift and plane with Idris. If you were stuck in the lift with 1 cast member for about 5 hours- who would you want it to be?

Erm, I’m the closest to Shantol Jackson so it’ll probably be Shantol because we’d sit and just talk about the memories of the movie and would laugh and catch joke. None of the mandem, we’d be like bruv man, stop farting. We’d start fighting [laughs]

So, in terms of feedback, what would you say to the people who say “Why isn’t the lead a Jamaican actor when you’re supposed to be depicting a Jamaican mans life and struggles”

Other than being the best actor in the world. LOL. [laughs] I am Jamaican. Listen, I played a Kenyan in Sense8. I play Americans all the time and if I couldn’t play Americans then I wouldn’t even have the career that I have. So, I don’t really subscribe to that at all. We are the sum of everything- all of us! We are the sum of all experiences, so I think its important to know that as long as someone plays it authentically and really has a sense of responsibility and desire to portray something, sometimes it’s even better when they’re not exactly from there.

Last month you went paragliding in South Africa which looked amazing. What’s next for you to tick off your bucket list?

I want to go to the moon! Its possible. I want to get out of Earth- that would be amazing. Before I die I want to see Gods work. It’ll be very scary but I’m up for it!

What advice would you give to young actors that are looking for their big break?

You never know when your big break is going to come. It could come tomorrow, or it could be a series of different breaks that lead to a big break. Focus on your craft, study people you admire and have a plan of action of how you can possibly navigate your way through this career. Have resilience! One thing this particular business does as an actor is, it kicks you down for a living and you have to stand back up. In acting and entertainment, you’re in front of everybody so if you get kicked down its publicly.

Blacpire’s Mayo Egbo sitting with Aml

Blacpire’s Mayo Egbo sitting with Aml

YARDIE is out on digital download from 24th December, and on Blu-ray DVD from 26th December.