VMEN: Archie Madekwe
Meet the South London native starring in See, a new dystopian TV series available on Apple+.
This article appears in the pages of VMAN43: Overdrive on newsstands March 12. Pre-order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com.
In the Apple+ series See, humans have lost their sight. Forced to find new means of survival sans vision, mankind looks very different. But like any good sci-fi, the show raises questions about how it might mirror our present reality. For star Archie Madekwe, the links between the show’s dystopian premise and real life were clear. “I had such a visceral sense of what this world was—more so than with any other script,” Madekwe says. “[It got me thinking] about whether the same issues [we have now] would come up if humans were given the opportunity to start over afresh.”
Darkness is a throughline of the 24-year-old’s 2019 credits, which range from playing a French revolutionary in the BBC’s recent Les Misérables revival to a doomed tourist in Ari Aster’s Midsommar. But the South London native had arguably proven his mettle before these, dropping out of his performing arts high school to act on stage. “There’s nothing that teaches you about [acting] other than just doing it,” he says. “There’s no situation that can turn up at school…where you’re potentially naked with one other person as hundreds of people are staring at you, while you are trying to create something intimate and real.
Along the way, Madekwe clocked institutional barriers to acting in the U.K. “Especially as a person of color, it is difficult to get into certain rooms,” he says. “[The schools are] almost [seen as] this stamp of approval on your head, [signifying] that you are a serious actor and you should be taken seriously. It’s very selective and elitist, and very expensive.”
Clearly Madekwe is an exception to the rule, having found his way to a number of prestigious sets without a fancy drama degree. Despite returning to complex sci-fi storytelling this year with Voyagers, helmed by Neil Burger of the Divergent franchise, Madekwe believes you don’t need a high production value to prove your craft: To those hoping to get a foot in the industry’s door, he recommends equal opportunity platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Judging by Madekwe’s flourishing career, and his attitude of gratitude, the struggle is worth the reward: “[As actors], we’re so lucky to do the job that we do. Because we get to learn something new every day.”