Best known for his roles in Bagdad Central and We Hunt Together, I was really excited to interview, the Nigerian Born British Actor Dipo Ola. The newcomer (his debut was in 2020) is already showing great promise and can now be seen on HBO Sky TV series Landscapers starring opposite Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis.
During a very relaxed and pleasant conversation, I learned that Dipo’s surname has the sound of a Portuguese hello (Olá). That his childhood dream was to be a football player and that the promising actor, fell into his acting career “for not wanting to walk home alone…”
Hi Dipo, it’s great to finally catching up with you. So, tell me how are you today?
D O – I am good. Thank you. I do not know where you are. But where I am. The sun seems to be shining a little bit. It is not too cold today. So, it is a lovely day. Sitting in my hot apartment, I jokingly moan about the constant sun and heat in Portugal. In conversation he told me he had been to Portugal in June, gone to Faro. Unfortunately, he did not visit my favorite beach, in Lagos Dona Ana beach, but told me maybe next time. The chat continues.
So, Dipo, you were born in Ibadan, Nigeria, then moved with your family to the UK as a child. After finishing your studies, you attended the Oxford School of Drama, enrolling on the BA three-year course in acting. Your training was then completed in Oxford. After you graduated, am I correct? Was acting a childhood dream?
D O – No, it was not, surprisingly enough, like many kids my age in the UK, I wanted to be a footballer. And that was the dream for quite a little bit of time when I was between like 14 to 16. Did that, unfortunately it did not work out for whatever reason and I just fell into acting randomly. Because I used to live in Birmingham. And when we made the move, it was worked out in a weird way that the school I went to be a performing arts specialist. So, one of my friends was like, I am going to go to audition for this thing after school. You want to come with me? And I was like, Yeah, I did not want to walk home by myself. That’s how everything started.
Oh, wow. Wow. See, it is always good to ask because a most answers are different from yours. And your story is really, you know, you became an actor because you did not want to walk home alone. I laughed!
D O – You know, it is funny that “the friend” is called Eddie Robinson. He is also an actor; it is poetic and beautiful that we are both doing it.
Poetic indeed, I agree before continuing. Baghdad Central. How does it feel to have made your screen debut in a multi award nominated series? It was not just any series; they were nominated for lots of awards.
D O – It was a great production and it was a dream because you know, it was one of my first jobs, no sorry, it was my first job. I got to travel to Morocco and stayed in this place called Ouarzazate which is a known place in Morocco used for film production. In August 2018, there was like, two or three different productions there doing stuff on the Bible. At the time you do not really know if it is going to be a success or not, you just do the show and I only had a small part, so it felt like a holiday you know, for want of a better word, I was just living my life, met some amazing people. And it was led by Waleed Zuaiter a fantastic actor and he ended up getting a BAFTA nomination, it was amazing to be a part of that even in the smallest way possible.
Wonderful. Thank you. You We’re best known for your roles in the two series Baghdad Central, where you played Kellerman and we hunt together where you played Baba, both out in 2020. You appeared in episodes of Cobra, where you played the character of Mark Everly and inside No9 where you played Calvin cook. From all those roles, which one was your favorite? And why?
D O – I am extremely fortunate. But I think the first job, playing Kellerman because you always remember your first job no matter what it is that you are doing. I remember it well because my birthday was a couple of days into it. Then whilst we were all in the greenroom, myself, Bertie, Charlotte Spencer, Corey stone, we were all talking and for some reason got into the subject of jobs. And I said, “This is my first job.” Although everyone was a bit tired before when they heard that everyone said, “Wait, this is your first job.” there is just something about an actor who has worked a little bit when they meet somebody who has done their first job that kind of makes them remember why they do because there was such an amazing atmosphere to be in. Even for those like 30 seconds. Felt good to be congratulated. So, now whenever I am working or my friends go, I got my first job; I always make a big deal too. Yes. Like a little Celebration is I added. Ola agrees and continues I tell everybody, you get a first job. Go celebrate, man. Go celebrate! But to answer your question: My first job, Kellerman in Baghdad Central, will always be my favorite.
Thank you, Dipo. You will soon be starring in the sky, HBO wildly anticipated series Landscapers. What attracted you to the role?
D O – That took me to Landscapers? It was the writing. There is so much to attract me to HBO project, a Sky project but for me it was the writing because I thought what Ed Sinclair had put together was such an amazing journey. It was sensitive obviously because it is a real case, you know, as well as, being imaginative to the fact that it was a story itself. And I remember reading it for four hours just straight away and no matter when it stopped… I decided to read the next episode. It was such a magical experience to look into the world of Landscapers. And, obviously, Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis are the leads. So, everything was attractive about that project. But the writing, especially, the writing was just one of the most amazing pieces of storytelling I have ever experienced.
Thank you for sharing your amazing insight into Landscapers. Has you just mentioned, you will be starring opposite the Oscar winner, Olivia Coleman, David Thewlis to name a few. How did it feel to work with such a diverse group of people?
D O – Amazing because like you said, Olivia Coleman is an Oscar winning performer and David Thewlis is renowned throughout the industry. And then people like Kate O’Flynn who is a serious and incredible actor, Sam Anderson as well – a fantastic actor, Dan Rugby just to name a few… so, a wealth of experience and once you get on the set and you interact with people, you talk to them, you meet people and you feel, I am not actually just working with these people, but I am working with kind of the ghosts of people they have met. There was an occurrence where I was doing a scene with Olivia and in between we were chatting about one of the other films that she was doing, she mentioned something about an actor. And I was like, oh, that is so interesting. And you realize that you are not only learning from these people, but you get to learn what they have learned, or what they have heard. I think that is such a beautiful thing to be able to experience because you feel, what can I get from this person? What can I learn to improve myself? Thinking of Olivia and David, I could not think of two better actors to lead Landscapers because I just think they are two of the best that this country’s ever produced.
I agree with you. Incredible talent, I really liked her in The Night Manager, especially with her baby belly she was great.
D O – And you know she a lovely person as well. So, if you love her on screen, you love her off screen.
Aww Fantastic. What can the audience expect from Landscapers?
D O – The audience can expect, a story that dives into the minds of two people. Aside from being about Susan and Chris committing a murder and got essentially going on the run, and then being put on trial, it is the exploration of people’s minds and the psychology of people and why people do what they do in the ways that they do these things. And why. the why and the how I added, yes, and how easily somebody could get caught up into doing this thing. So, it is a real exploration into the human mind.
Yes. Oh, fantastic. Oh, I like that. Um, which the fictional characters you have played so far, would you be most excited to meet in real life?
D O – He smiles before adding that is good question. So, I don’t know if I want to meet Baba because he’s got a tendency to kill people. Calgon he’s a bit too temperamental, he’s got his own demons. Mark, I do not think he would have any time for me and Kellerman is a bit too arrogant. You know? Douglas from Landscapers. He is the most well-rounded human being.
Dipo then quickly adds, oh, that said, I would never want to need him but I would want to meet him. We both laugh…
I like that. Um, in 2019, you made your professional theater debut. performing at the Vaults?
D O – Yes.
Which one do you find more challenging screen or stage?
D O – Hmm. They are both so different. That is the beauty of it. They demand different things of you. And so, in diverse ways, you know, theater is a lot more continuous. Yes. A lot more linear. And, you know, screen you can do your biggest scene on the first day, and that could be the end. And then on the final day you do “hi my name is” But I mean, in the face of it, it looks like screen because I have been getting more screen work. I cannot say one is harder than the other, they are completely different experiences.
Would you do more plays if they could?
D O – Oh, yes. If I had the opportunity.
Anything in the works that you can talk about? Got any exciting new projects
D O – Landscapers should be out soon. Other things may be populating, but I can neither confirm nor deny.
And, if you have not already, please go tune into Cobra Season Two on Sky Max. All episodes are available online. If not, I know the first two are or you can watch them every Friday. And remember to tune into Sky Max, HBO for Landscapers starring the amazing Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis. And Dipo Ola I added… to which he shyly replies
D O – Well, yes, I do my bit.
And suddenly my time with Dipo was over… God this seemed so quick, but it has been wonderful talking to you.
D O – Yes, pleasure is all mine.
You know, I will catch up with the series because I want to see you in action. Thank you.
D O – Thank you very much. Thank you. Bye
LANDSCAPERS is now on Sky Atlantic and streaming on NOW.