‘The Hunger Games’ star Dayo Okeniyi talks first major role

Dayo Okeniyi

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Nigerian-born Dayo Okeniyi is one to watch. In “The Hunger Games” (opening March 23) he plays the silent warrior from District 11, Thresh. The actor sat down with Essence to discuss his acting career, and his role in the blockbuster film.

ESSENCE: You’re new to Hollywood. Share your background for those who don’t know.

DAYO OKENIYI: I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and I moved to Anderson, Indiana, in 2003 to go to school. I finished high school in America, then I went to college. I studied graphic design and advertising. But while I was there I did plays, so acting has always been my true love. And I did theater in Nigeria, too — I did a ton of plays when I was home.

ESSENCE: The Hunger Games is your first major movie. How did you land the role of Thresh?

OKENIYI: I moved to LA a couple years ago and I was lucky to land an indie feature right away. At that time, I was tipped off that there was a casting director looking for young actors. So, I followed up and performed for him and he was really impressed. He was like, “Who’s your agent, I’d love to get in touch. I have roles I’m casting for right now and I think you’d be perfect!” I was like, “Sir, I don’t have any representation.” He then made a phone call and set me up with a manager. It was a victory just getting representation. The first audition my manger sent me on was The Hunger Games, and I got the role.

Read the full interview here.

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