Nigerian actor Samuel Abiola Robinson is over the moon.
He has been inundated with messages on social media from viewers appreciating his performance in the Malayalam film Sudani From Nigeria.
The movie, which has already released in Kerala and is receiving rave reviews, will hit UAE cinemas on April 5.
Robinson plays Samuel, a star football player on whom his team manager has pinned all his hopes. This story directed by debutant Zakariya is about the popular Sevens Tournament held in Mallapuram. Actor-director Soubin Shahir plays the team manager.
“Every morning I wake up to new messages,” said Robinson, before flying back to his home in Lagos. “I couldn’t believe it when within two days of film’s release the number of my followers touched 30,000.”
This is Robinson’s debut in Indian cinema — a role that came to him after director Zakariya spotted him online.
For the role, he underwent football training for two weeks before filming commenced.
“I also learnt to walk with crutches as required by my character,”
A self-taught actor, Robinson was inspired by Hollywood actors Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The child actor was seven years old when he went on stage to play an elderly person at a church event. Since then, the bug refused to leave him.
At 16, he made his acting debut with Walt Disney’s Desperate Housewives Africa and subsequently worked in a couple of Nigerian films.
Working in a new environment and with a language barrier was not easy. While he is grateful for the love that fans have shown him and felt privileged to experience the warm culture of Kerala, Robinson has been in the news recently for accusing his film’s producers of discrimination. He took to social media to express his disappointment with his producers.
“It was nothing violent or directly in my face but for my role in Sudani from Nigeria, the producers offered me far less money than Indian actors who are not half as popular or accomplished as I am. I only became better enlightened after meeting several young actors and discussing payment with them,” he wrote.
Robinson feels this happened because of his skin colour.
“Zakariya did his best to help but as he was not financing the movie there was very little change he could foster. He is a man with a good heart and a brilliant director.”
Robinson added that the producers had promised to pay him more if the film became successful but the promise was not honoured. He believes it is his responsibility to speak up.
“It could ease the suffering of the next generation of black actors,” said Robinson, who hopes to work in Bollywood.