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LØST CULTURE MEETS – Joivan Wade: On Black British Actors In America, Cyborg Announcement and ‘VS’ Movie

The Black British creative sphere is in a place of renewal. With artists winning across the industry as a whole, new doors are being opened at any given time. Joivan Wade is no stranger to this. After a string of success domestically, the British-born actor recently (August 11th) got signed as Cyborg in the upcoming DC action series ‘Doom Patrol’ set to premiere next year. As I prepare to interview the actor I reflect on his recent success. However, an even more prominent shock-story in his life at this time is ‘The First Purge’. Standing as the latest in a string of films in the series, this one is unique as it’s the prequel and features a predominately Black cast. I begin here as we finish greeting one another.

“It was an amazing experience man, absolutely amazing.” Wade has an unshakeable excitement in his tone as he recalls his experiences.

“The whole franchise came into a family while filming. It was such a unique film in the series being mainly Black and to be the most successful ‘Purge’ film is just the best feeling.”

We touch on the premise of the film, where politics takes centre-stage, and ironically has a startlingly familiar feel to the real-world political arena. “This film is so important, it was almost written as if it knew the times we would be in when it came out. It’s so relevant to us all in this time, particularly Americans, it’s crazy over there.”

America is a dynamic nation at the moment, because while a polarising figure leads it, the nation as a whole is part of the reason that Black British actors are doing so well at the moment. The likes of Idris Elba, John Boyega, and Letitia Wright have been able to crack the market and allow a more frequent arrival of opportunity for their peers. I delve deeper into why exactly Wade went over there in the first place, especially considering his wins (‘Doctor Who’, ‘Youngers’) in the UK to date. “I wanted more dynamic roles to be honest.” he expresses. “I needed to work with the best equipment, directors and get to the top for my industry.” Beyond this, Wade shares his aspirations for more depth. “In my career, I want to play different characters. I predicted that America would hopefully give me that, a year or two later it did.”

The glass ceiling that’s currently being broken for Black British creatives has been a controversial discussion in recent years. Samuel L Jackson publicly voiced his concern and protection over African American opportunities during his interview with Hot 97 last year.

“When it comes to that, I think it’s ignorance. Some African American’s don’t get that we’re Black and that we went through slavery also.”

As we unpick the subject further, the young creative touches on his industry as a whole. “In acting, even in the creative field, it’s every man for themselves.” Still Wade seeks to replicate the career of elders such as Idris. “I strive to create at the end of the day, globally. I have projects here also such as ‘Shiro’s Story’, that I want and do invest in, I’m going to be multifaceted in my career.”

We talk further into the UK and projects that the former ‘Eastenders’ actor has been associated with. One of his many acting opportunities is a film called ‘VS’, set to premiere this October, when asked about the opportunity, Wade expresses a similar passion to when he was reflecting on ‘The First Purge’ earlier on in the interview.

“The director Ed Lilly was excellent. The fact that such a young cast was involved made the dynamic so incredible. Us actors don’t get the opportunity to fully experience school sometimes, so it felt like one big playground throughout.”

Delving further into the films plot the South Londoner anticipates the release. “I can’t wait for everyone to see this one. It’s such a unique cast and tale.”

At this point, comic book hero’s are introduced and the star can’t contain his elation for his latest signed work.

“I’ve always wanted to play a prominent, Black super-hero and there’s only been two that I can think of on either side of the more prominent franchises (DC and Marvel)”.

“When I got the call, I had to weigh it up at first, because I always wanted to do a Super-hero film. However, once I went and met with the producers, the deal was set in stone.”

Amongst the clear feeling of accomplishment, the offer on the table wasn’t always set in stone for the talent. The idea of each episode being like a mini-movie was what brought the deal alight, and let the actor know that he was in good hands.

As we wrap up I reflect on the intense schedule that Wade has been subject to for the last few years, and wonder how he can keep up. “Consistency.” He replies in an instant. “I know what I want for my career. When I’m not in-front of the screen, I’m either behind it learning from peers and directors, or working on my own separate ventures. I never stop.”

‘The First Purge’ is in Cinemas now, ‘VS’ is set to premiere in October.

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