Meet the Genie: Stratford actor talks about new role in BBC Aladdin show
- Credit: Coco Van Oppens Photography
Aladdin is a story with more magic and mayhem than you can shake a magic carpet at.
Our favourite pauper-turned-prince is now back on our screens, along with the all-powerful Genie of the Lamp, in brand new show Jamilla and Aladdin that airs on both CBBC and CBeebies children’s channels every Sunday.
The story follows Jamillah, a modern-day young Londoner on the look out for adventure who discovers a dusty old lamp in her attic and makes a wish.
Released from his itty bitty living space, Genie takes Jamillah back to ancient Baghdad where the pair meet up with Aladdin.
While Genie has cosmic powers that can transport him and his friends anywhere in time and space, he’s played by 27-year-old Leroy Osei-Bonsu who hails a little closer to home. Stratford in fact.
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The Recorder caught up with the young actor for a quick chat about his debut role and some advice for budding young actors.
How would you describe Jamillah and Aladdin to anyone who hasn’t already heard about it?
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An exciting, fun-packed and adventurous series, which all the family can enjoy. It’s about all the difficult situations these two troublesome kids find themselves in, which is why they are always being saved by the amazing Genie of the Lamp.
How would you describe your character in the series?
He is like the big brother a kid would always imagine having in everyday life.
He is always there for Jamillah and Aladdin and getting mixed up in their schemes, but when it all gets a bit out of hand, he knows what cards to play to defuse the problem in a ‘fun-tastic’ way.
How similar are you to your on-screen character?
I guess we are quite similar as we both love a bit of adventure, causing a bit of trouble and lending a helping hand. I don’t take life too seriously and I’m always out for a laugh, much like the genie.
How does this show compare to the other versions of Aladdin people might know?
Well, besides the name Aladdin and the Genie from the lamp, it’s very different to what I had expected.
This series has more of a modern feel to it as we have Jamillah from the present day who is going back in time to ancient Baghdad. Seeing that amazement from the characters in Baghdad when they are shown something from the future is a real treat.
There are lots of encounters with new enemies and friends, which is obviously very different to the well-known Disney version.
What are your favourite memories of being on set?
The banter between the cast and crew. There was always something going on which made me laugh.
How did you get into acting?
I’ve always wanted to act since primary school. It first started as a dream to be famous, but I gradually realised there was more to it than that and it became a main factor in my life – fame didn’t necessarily matter anymore.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an actor?
Be patient and be prepared to fail countless times – but just remember it’s a marathon and do it because you know deep down it’s your passion and you are good at it.
What other character in children’s television and film would you love to play?
I would love to play Superman.
Finally, if you could have three wishes from the genie what would they be?
World peace, the ability to fly and a successful career.
Jamillah and Aladdin will be on CBBC on Sunday, January 3, and will air on CBeebies from January 11. Catch up with the series so far on BBC iPlayer.