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Abraham Attah- From Street Vendor to Movie Star.

Abraham Attah

Premiered at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Cary Fukunaga’s screen adaptation of Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation has received impressive reviews from top movie critics, some of whom have predicted an Oscar Nomination for the movie and its top casts.

For Abraham Atah the 14 year old lead actor, it is more than a mere prediction, as he recently won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Actor or Actress at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.

Prior to joining Beasts of No Nation, 14 year old Abraham Attah was a vendor on the streets of Ghana. “The lead in ‘Beasts of No Nation’ was essentially a street vendor before we shot the film. [He had] zero film experience, little education…but he became a somewhat professional actor, which was astounding to watch.”  Fukunaga said during a talk at the Tribeca Film Festival.


Without a prior acting experience or training, Attah delivered his role in the movie with ease and an impressive composure. One could bet that he has spent most of his days in front of a camera.

However, success didn’t come easy for the young actor, as he was one out of 30 children gathered for the role ‘Agu’, the protagonist in the movie, and he emerged top. “We gathered a bunch of kids who had potential, about 30 of them … the kids are fast learners, they quickly understood that the better they did the longer they stayed,” said Fukunaga

Abraham played the lead role of Agu who, when civil war tears his family apart, is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters and transformed into a child soldier.

At the Venise Press Conference, Attah admitted feeling nervous starring alongside actor, Edris Elba. “I was scared because it was my first time shooting a movie. I was afraid of Elba at first because I see him to be someone big, and I’m like an ant in front of him,” Attah explains

But that didn’t in anyway affect his output. He overcame his nervousness and made the most of his opportunity.

The rising movie star actor has also received the Rising Star Award, from the Black Film Critics Circle for his role. The award labeled the youngster’s role as ‘one of the strongest and most phenomenal they have ever seen’ and added that he has ‘a very bright future ahead of him.’

Attah who has joined the league of young actors making their acting debuts in high profile projects, like Quvenzhané Wallis in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ is currently a student at a Ghanaian boarding school.

Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor is a Journalist/Writer, Poet, Lawyer and God-Lover. She enjoys a good read and sees everyday as an opportunity to live and enjoy her calling whilst working towards perfecting it. She believes that someday soon, Africa will reach her full potential as the light-bearer of the world. You can find her on Twitter: @lovelyn_o

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