If you’ve watched Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” — now streaming on Disney Plus — then you’ve seen Folajomi “FJ” Akinmurele in action. Starring as a young Simba who is driven out of his home by Scar and must go on a journey of self-discovery, the star potential of the 7-year-old actor is already clear. Here’s what you need to know about the “Black Is King” breakout:
Why he stole the show
In the absence of much dialogue, it’s the visuals that do much of the talking in “Black Is King.” The enthralling aesthetics of the production apply to everything from the beautifully lush landscapes to the colorful and detailed costuming, and there are multiple shots of Akinmurele in which he looks every bit the young king Beyoncé sings about in her latest visual album.
Even when he’s not decked out in a crown, Akinmurele embodies the spirit of a young Simba at the start of his journey. His raw talent is evident in “Don’t Jealous Me” but even more so in the vibrant rendition of “Mood 4 Eva,” which sees him wearing the same clothes as Jay-Z while confidently rapping the lyrics.
What has he starred in previously?
Beyoncé’s music video for “Spirit” — the only song to be included in 2019’s remake of “The Lion King” – was Akinmurele’s acting debut. The global superstar was so impressed by his performance that she sought him out for “Black Is King” and cast him in the lead role of Simba. Not bad for your first two projects.
Akinmurele hasn’t announced a next project yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time before word gets around. In the meantime, Akinmurele, who is represented by Afritalent Agency and resides in Los Angeles, will no doubt be spending time with his other passions: sports (especially basketball), video games, art, swimming, singing and outdoor recreation.