Throughout my stay in NYC, I have met many fascinating people; especially artists who are always attempting to make their dreams a reality. Two years ago I met an actor who constantly seemed to be working hard towards a different role throughout the city. We became friends. Luckily, we were both working at the same company at the time. After seeing each other everyday at work, our natural artistic curiosity got the best of us. A mutual resect grew and Abraham Amkpa (Abe) became a colleague I deeply admired. Since his departure from NYC to LA, I decided to reach back out to see if he would share a bit of his thoughts on his acting career.
Abe was kind enough to talk about how this love of acting began. “… Ever since I was a kid I had a big imagination and liked impersonating people. I love acting because I think it is magical being put on the spot. My dad was storyteller and a theater studies professor, so we traveled a lot. I was able to see a lot of Shakespeare very young. I think I was about seven years old when I became completely immersed and got the acting bug. It became not just a career but a way of living for me.” Talk about a life of art. What an amazing adventure Abe has had learning and being surrounded by such passion.
That passion can be seen in Abe’s work. He is most proud of his work in the entertaining web series, Hard Times. Abe plays Derek, a man who seeks a career in male stripping to make some extra money. “I love to flesh out characters and dive into them. Lately, I have been doing a lot of one offs in LA. I may do a new feature film with Tahir Jetter, the director of Hard Times down the line. I would love to do a full length Shakespeare production someday. I enjoy theater more than film/TV because they are more of a visual process while theater is more alive and tuned in what you are doing at that moment. All the work consists of how you are saying things. I love films that have their own theatrical languages like In Bruges. As an actor you have to conform to what’s written on the page.” That’s what I like about Abe’s acting. When I watch Hard Times, I cannot help but see that Abe is not simply faking it until he makes it. His work feels real. Somehow, he transcends the mindset of being in a film world and chooses to live it beautifully.
Being that Abe is in the acting universe, I was curious to see how he thought of field today. “There is a shit ton more opportunities. Especially with Netflix growing so much. So many actors can audition for Netflix that is filled with so much content. There are more avenues for young actors in TV, that’s how to start a career in this industry. Getting exposure and having people be aware of your work helps get the ball rolling. I consider it a privilege to make it work as best I can. Despite the fact that it is a very un-regulated industry, it sometimes can simply be about who you know and who you are sleeping with. Sex sometimes might give you that edge. It is a superficial industry. However, once you accept that you can make it work for your means.” Glad to see that Abe has kept his head in the game and realizes the realistic efforts that may be required to find success. He is aware and is not afraid to speak his mind.
Beyond acting, Abe has ambitious plans. “I would love to do more production work and eventually direct something. It would be fun to … write and be more creative behind the scenes. It could be cool to write something fun that means something to me. In acting I am always at mercy at what people want for the production. If the work was more personal I think it would be more fun.” Well, Abe has no problem exploring there. He has an unusually strong support base of family and friends that help inspire him. I know many of his friends here in NYC and they are almost the Brooklyn version of Entourage in every sense of the word. All of them have their own quirks and fascinating personalities that could make for entertaining performances. The stories and hilarious incidents could be great inspiration for Mr. Ampka.
Abe has a long list of inspirational artists in his field. “I am a fan of Brad Pitt and Oprah. Not simply because of their acting work but what they do in production. I would love to work with Lee Daniels. I admire the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and was able to do some classes with his theater company. There are lots of great actors out there pushing the boundaries.” Now that is an impressive list of worthwhile artists. Abe has definitely chosen wisely on his search for inspiration and guidance.
Abe has a bunch of projects coming up and is working hard everyday to make it work. “I am currently performing an FBI role in The Young and the Restless. I also was on an episode of American Crime Story. I just completed a commercial with Travelocity. I have been out here in LA for eight months already and am eager to keep creating something. I am hoping to start some feature/independent films this summer.” Be sure to keep a look out for this guy. Abe is going to be a name to remember among the Hollywood lights someday. His kindness and willingness to be authentic in various situations only surpasses his talent. Abe is well on his way.