The new Disney+ film Rise, out Friday, tells the true story of the Antetokounmpo family, who, after years of hard work and struggle, found incredible success in the world of professional basketball.
Actor Dayo Okeniyi plays patriarch Charles Antetokounmpo in the film, and he shared with ABC Audio how much he admired his character’s strength.
“The great thing about Charles is he never wore that on his sleeves,” Okeniyi said. “He always remained, you know, a man of strong self-esteem … I think that’s a really great leadership quality he had.”
Not only did Okeniyi admire his character’s strength, he also related to his story.
“I’m also an immigrant from Nigeria, moved to America when I was 15,” Okeniyi said. “It’s constantly debating what is the best thing to do for our children, you know … Just imagine not being able to put food on the table for your family or not being able to give your sons the dream they want to become.”
Director Akin Omotoso says he took cues from Giannis Antetokounmpo’s speech at the 2019 NBA Awards where he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. “He speaks about when you were a kid, you can’t see the future and your parents see the future for you,” Omotoso said.
“I hope that when people watch it, they follow that journey and recognize themselves in that journey.”
After the Antetokounmpo family watched the film for the first time, they told Omotoso it really “captured the essence” of what they went through.
“That’s what we really wanted to do,” Omotoso said. “When you’re making something about someone’s life, you want to be sure that they see things that trigger other things. It’s like, ‘Ah, we remember that.’”
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