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18 April 2013

Actor Adam Deacon 'feels blessed to come from Hackney'

IF you’re walking anywhere in Hackney with Adam Deacon, add half an hour to your journey time. Everywhere the actor, director and rapper goes he is mobbed by young people waving smart phones, desperate for a photo with the Hackney-born star.

“I don’t mind it,” he shrugs. “Especially not in Hackney. You meet these young people who say ‘I’ve grown up watching you’, or they tell me they voted for me at the Baftas, and it’s inspiring – it keeps you going. I like it that one moment I can be at the Baftas and the next I’m back in town on an estate in Woodberry Down.”

The last few years have been something of a whirlwind for Adam. Since finding fame in the acclaimed 'Kidulthood', he went on to co-write, direct and star in 'Anuvahood'.

His achievements earned him the prestigious Bafta ‘Rising Star’ award in February 2012, and last December he co-hosted the MOBO music awards.

While his peers might be sipping bubbly in exclusive members clubs, Adam is happier sticking to East London, around the people he grew up with.

He says: “There can be negativity about people from East London, but when I look around there are so many positive things going on and so many characters, especially 
in Hackney.

“With 'Anuvahood' I wanted to get that fun side of living in Hackney out there, to show how when you’ve got all of these cultures living together it can be a lot of fun.

“I feel blessed to come from Hackney and have the people of Hackney as my background; it feeds into my acting and my writing – it’s all happened because of the things I’ve seen, the characters I’ve met – if I was from a different area I don’t think I’d have that.”

Things haven’t always been easy for Adam. After leaving home at 15, he lived in a hostel and saved up money for acting classes in the evenings after school. He credits his drama teacher at Stoke Newington School for encouraging him to get involved in acting.

Now 30, Adam is keen to inspire young people himself. He enjoys speaking at local schools and earlier this month he opened a new Hackney youth centre, The Edge, in Woodberry Down. 

“When I was growing up we’d have people coming into our school to try to motivate us but we couldn’t relate to them. We’d think ‘you’re not like us’,” he says.

Adding: “I just want young people to realise that, if they work hard and keep trying, they can do anything they want to do.

“Look at people like Professor Green and Labrinth – they’re from estates in Hackney, too, but they’re some of the biggest names out there.”

Adam says Hackney today is a very different place to the borough he grew up in. “Hackney’s changed massively – it looks brighter, it looks better. If you wake up and every day you’re seeing run-down buildings, it has an impact on how you feel.

“The changes are having a positive impact on the way people – especially young people – feel about themselves. You see events like the opening of the park and the youth centre and there’s no trouble – everyone’s smiling and the community comes together,” he says.

Adam’s currently working on some music projects and is writing more comedy scripts. He’s also shooting action film 'Montana' in Hackney alongside actor and former So Solid Crew member Ashley Walters.

And when he’s not working? “I spend a lot of time in Wetherspoons on Mare Street and Dalston Nandos. All the glamorous places,” he laughs.

Photo of Adam Deacon

Hackney-born actor Adam Deacon is inspired by where he lives

Photo of Adam Deacon

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