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Tobi Bakre: The making of action movie star

When Tobi started his life as a young adult, he probably did not set out to be the number 1 action star in Africa, a title he is fast coming to hold and love. If he had known what lay ahead, he probably would have studied Theatre Art or something related instead of Banking and Finance as he did at the University of Lagos.

While he may not have seen his brilliant career then, Tobi knew he wanted more than the bank job he held after graduating in 2012. So, when a chance came to be one of the Big Brother Naija Double Wahala housemates in 2018, he took it with open hands. The actor quit his bank job and insisted on building a career in entertainment after he left the house in third place.

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He knew he had to pace himself, and he started by dipping his toes in the water – first as a host from the Future Awards, Teen Choice Awards, The Sctage Award, MBGN in 2018 and to the MultiChoice Showcase 2022. He also had his acting debut in 2018, starring as himself in Africa Magic’s Hustle. He also focused on his photography, did some modelling and became a fitness inspiration. His physique and fitness videos will eventually work to solidify his ‘action-star’ image.

Tobi continued to work on new films and host more events, getting comfortable in front of the camera, polishing up his skills and improving with every feature. In 2019, he took on more roles in The Scourge, Fix Us, The Sojjis, Mokalik, The Scourge, and Sugar Rush. The latter three had theatrical releases. Sugar Rush became a certified blockbuster, raking in over N40 million in its first weekend. These films made more people consider Tobi as a serious actor, not as just a BBNaija accompaniment to win viewership.

In 2020, after his appearance as ‘Ike’ in Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story, the industry and fans knew they had to take Tobi the actor seriously because he wouldn’t stop soon. The film was also the first time Tobi took on an action role. Even though fans didn’t see the media personality in an action role again till 2022, Tobi didn’t rest. He appeared as Detective Mike in Breaking Point and Ladi in Unintentional in 2021.

Everything changed for Tobi in 2022. His burgeoning career took a massive leap. He stamped himself as a certified action star. He started the year by starring in The Blood Covenant, showcasing some of his action skills as ‘Eddy’, trying to escape being used as a sacrifice, all while determined to escape poverty.

He had his breakout role in Brotherhood as Akin Adetula. In this film, he showed off his physical fighting capacity, wielded guns, and was an all-round bad boy and loverboy. Despite being the bad guy, the viewers saw themselves rooting for him, proving how fantastic his acting was. He recreated the magic again in 2023 when Gangs of Lagos premiered. He was brilliant as ‘Obalola’. If you had a checklist for skills an actor must display in a film, Tobi had them all. If anyone doubted that he had delivered fantastic performances in Brotherhood and Gangs of Lagos, he shut them up when he took home the AMVCA for Best Actor in 2023.

Then, as September 2023 rolled, Africa Magic announced that Tobi would be taking on another action role in Slum King. This time, he would have to push the boundaries of his acting as his character in the film – Edafe Majemijesu Umukoro – will fight internal and external battles. With this role, Tobi is cementing his title as the Number 1 African Action Star, and he is very proud of the title.

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Speaking to journalists about the upcoming crime thriller, Tobi said, “Please feel very free to call me the number one action movie star out of Africa. That’s my title.” He also made a point to note that despite the similarities in those roles, there are also vital differences. In Slum King, Tobi plays Maje, who witnesses his parents’ murder at a young age because he forgot to lock their doors at night. Sad events force ambition on him, causing Maje to detest his lowly status and develop an appetite for power. Trapped in the cycle of guilt and trauma, Slum King takes us on Edafe’s journey from a disturbed tout in the slums to become MAJE, the charismatic king of the slums.

Slum King premiered on Sunday, October 8, 2023. Fans can catch the crime thriller every Sunday at 8 p.m. on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv ch. 151 and GOtv ch. 12).

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