A young and talented Liberian actor, Joe Debois, is looking for more acting opportunities to bolster what appears to be a promising career on the silver screen. You see, Joe, commonly known by his surname Debois, who is relatively unknown to the Liberian acting fraternity, is already an international acting star. While this fact might be new to the majority of Liberians, the fact is just that, a fact.
After his promotion to the 12th grade at Monrovia College on Clay Street, Debois was forced to drop out of school because his parents, then unemployed, could not afford his school fees.
“I had to drop out. With all the time I had on my hands it was no sooner I started hanging out with some guys who were bad influences on me,” said Debois.
But fortunately for him, Providence had a plan for his life. A chance encounter with fellow Apostolic High School alumnus, ‘General’ Shayvay Duo, who decided to organize a football match for wayward kids in and around the ELWA junction community, would introduce Debois to a life he could have only seen on TV by then.
“Here is this guy who told me that he likes me and wanted to do something for me. I was a bit skeptical because our people tend to say things for attention. But when he said he would like to send me to Ghana to act in a Hollywood scale film production, I certainly didn’t believe him,” he said laughing at his recollection.
But the ‘General’ persisted. After several meetings in May 2014, which included a successful audition at Kendeja Hotel off the Robertfield highway, Shayvay handed Debois US$40 “and asked to buys new set of clothes” because he would be on his way to Ghana that weekend.
According to Debois, “the whole thing was surreal. Here I was, a guy who had never even been in a school drama, heading to Accra to play a role alongside Hollywood actors.”
But the road to Accra was paved with perils. Travelling by road on a laissez-passer from GSA junction to Danane, his travelling crew of seven was stopped on their way to Abidjan and accused of being rebels.
“We were locked up for seven days until our situation was reported on local radio and local fans of the movie Johnny Mad Dog, Johnny was with us in jail, started coming to the prison bringing us gifts. After the prison guards watched the movie and recognized Johnny, they called their boss, who was in Paris, France, at the time, and was contacted by the movie’s sponsors. We were subsequently released,” said Debois.
The unlucky lads ended up coming back to Liberia to restart their journey back to Accra. The movie was shot on location in Koforidua in southeastern Ghana.
Made from a 2005 novel by the same name after a Fela Kuti album, ‘Beast of No Nation’ was written by Uzodinma Iweala. It stars Hollywood actor Idris Elba, who plays the Commandant, and Abraham Attah, who plays the leading role of Agu.
According to Wikipedia, “a civil war is breaking out in an unspecified West African country. A young boy, Agu, lives in a small village with his parents, older brother, and two younger siblings. The village is informed that the government has fallen, with military-aligned rebels seizing control of the country. With rebel forces headed towards the village, many people flee to the country’s capital for safety. Agu’s father is able to buy safe transport for his wife and youngest child, but has to stay behind himself with Agu and his eldest son. Rebel and government forces fight in and around Agu’s village, the rebel soldiers flee and the government forces round up the remaining villagers thinking they are rebels. As they are about to be executed, Agu’s father tells his sons to run, just before being shot.
“The two boys try to escape, but Agu’s brother is killed. Agu evades capture and escapes into the jungle. After wandering for an unspecified amount of time, he is caught up in a guerrilla skirmish. The NDF, a rising rebel faction in the country, adopts Agu into their ranks. Agu’s battalion is led by the Commandant, who takes Agu under his wing. After undergoing a brutal initiation process, Agu becomes a fully-fledged member of the militia.”
The movie was released worldwide on October 16, 2015 after receiving awards from the 2015 Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals.
Although his role was small, Debois, who played the Commandant’s radio operator, was on set from start to finish. Although he didn’t receive any recognition here at home for his role, Debois said “better late than never” as he is certain that his luck is about to change again.
“I was fortunate to get to experience life in front of the camera. This role led to me acting in two local films, ‘The Professor’ and ‘Let’s Unite,’” added Debois. “What I am now looking for is more acting roles, even music videos and TV and print commercials. I was trained by the best in the movie business, and now I need more local exposure.”
Any film, production studio, producer or drama group looking for a well groomed actor can reach Debois on 0880 694 321.