Photo by: Beast Williams
We caught up with actor, writer, and director Tosin Morohunfola who stars as Ola in the Starz comedy series Run The World, which returns for season 2 on Friday, May 26. The series is described as a one which “chronicles the euphoric highs and heartbreaking lows that Whitney (Amber Stevens West), Renee (Bresha Webb) and Sondi (Corbin Reid) must endure in their pursuit of world domination.” The first season ended with some drama as we saw Ola and Whitney break off their relationship leaving tensions high. Tosin’s next role will be in the highly anticipated Taylor Sheridan Western series Bass Reeves for Paramount+ which is still currently in production.
Tosin tells us all about what we can expect from Run The World seaon 2 and Ola, how he is able to connect with his character, his experiences so far filming Bass Reeves, and lots more.
Check out our conversation below.
What can viewers expect from season 2 of Run the World and from your character, Ola?
Tosin Morohunfola (TM): It’s gonna be a ride! For most of season 1, my character was a loving fiancé to Whitney. I really enjoyed getting to just be fun and in love. (Even though that meant I was totally ignorant to her cheating on me. What a fool!). But in that final episode when I found out about the betrayal, I let loose on her. Season 2 takes a turn. After pouring out my heart, we break up the engagement. My character’s going to have to pick up the pieces of himself and figure out if he’s really done with her or not. Can he forgive her? Does he even want to? And in the meantime, he’s got to learn how to be single again, which is a pretty funny journey too.
How would you describe Ola? Do you have a better sense of him in the second season?
TM: Okay, so I may be biased, but Ola is a good man. Straight up. He’s loyal, he’s hard-working, high-achieving and passionately loves his fiancé. But I will confess, Ola also has some “wrath” to him. We saw some of that at the end of season 1. But that anger is outweighed by his capacity to love. He’s flawed but he’s aspirational still. And what I love about him is that we rarely get depictions of Black men as upstanding in this way in media and on television. So, getting to play a man who excels and has great character, is both an honor and a much-needed bit of Black representation.
What initially drew you towards the series?
TM: Well, first of all, I just loved that the series centered on Black women! Then as an actor, I lit up when I saw that the character was Nigerian-American. I immediately wanted to audition, because it’s not often that a character so specifically targets my exact lane of experience. My character and I are really similar. We’re both very strongly principled. We both come from big, pushy, loving Nigerian families. Ola is a doctor. My dad is one too. There’s just so much of him I aligned with. Even down to my real last name, which contains my character’s name (MorohunfOLA).
Beyond that, I just loved the people. I was so drawn in by our creator Leigh Davenport and both our legendary Showrunners. But most importantly, my love-interest Amber Stevens West is just amazing. She’s such a generous and nuanced actor. And just a great person. Even from the audition and chemistry read, I knew that I wanted to work with her and that I’d enjoy it.
We will also soon be seeing you in Taylor Sheridan’s highly anticipated Western series Bass Reeves alongside David Oyelowo. Are you able to share what that experience has been like for you so far?
TM: Well, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk about this. But I can definitely tell you I’ve been riding a lot of horses. They’ve really trained me to be a cowboy! It’s definitely been a new and exciting skillset and I play a really crucial part of the story. In the series, the main character, Bass Reeves, is dedicated to the law. That’s the only way he views justice and my character comes along to challenge all that. As a Black man in America, we know better than to think justice always goes hand-in-hand with the law. And I think my character knows that truth too. So all I’ll say is this: Not all criminals are created equal, and this is one cowboy you don’t want to mess with.
You have taken on a wide range of roles in both film and television. Does your preparation for each differ depending on the project, or is there a routine you stick to?
TM: No process is the same for me, but there are certain things I do try to keep consistent. For instance, I always try to gradually digest the script over several reads and study sessions. I really want to understand the full story, the vision and message. Then I examine how my character fits in and what specifically is his story purpose which is kind of a directorial approach (I can’t help it, I’m also a director).
After that, then I dive into my method and actually do the acting work. A lot of my roles are very physical, so often my prep includes an aggressive physical regiment and work out routine. It’s not mandatory but it helps my mindset. So I’d prefer at least a month to do all this. But that timeline is often massively compressed just because of the nature of this crazy, fast-paced industry. Sometimes there’s really no time and I just have to rip the cord and jump and hope the chute opens. So far, it always has. Fingers crossed.
You are also the founder of the Multicultural Theatre Initiative (MTI) at the University of Kansas. What can you tell us about this? How did you come up with the initial idea?
TM: The MTI was a born out of necessity. While I was in college, there just wasn’t any theater for people of color at my university. And we wanted to do shows that appealed to us, told our stories, and just expanded the mindsets of our fellow Midwesterners. So we started a theater company and during my tenure as Artistic Director, we brought dozens of people of color into the art form, performed to hundreds of underserved audiences and produced 9 plays over 2 years. (Two of them were my own originals.
I gained a lot from that company. I learned the most from my fellow students. My peers were my collaborators. Every project that we put together ourselves and produced from the ground up was an education like none other. They really taught me initiative. To this day, I still collaborate with many of those actors, comedians, improvisers, filmmakers, and writers, and they’re still the support group too. Love y’all.
Run The World season 2 premieres May 26 on Starz.
Follow Tosin Morohunfola: Instagram