Tony Ofori – The Gift to Inspire
Words + Interview By Lucky Smith
Tony Ofori is an actor who has appeared in “Murdoch Mysteries”, “Coroner”, “The Dating App Chronicles” and more. He and I discussed Canada, the importance of perseverance, “Black Scholar Dollars” and his role as Malcolm in season 3 of Apple TV+’s “Ghostwriter”.
We understand you started entertaining early. Did you feel your destiny was set at a young age?
It’s hard to say. I think I have been given the gift of leadership. The gift to inspire. There has been many opportunities that have presented themselves to me over the years that allowed me to provide this service. But with acting, not only does it allow me to do that, but it also feeds my soul and is therapeutic. It gives me the opportunity to constantly look inwards and learn new things about myself while telling stories that make a difference.
Tell us about Apple TV+’s, “Ghostwriter” and your role as Malcolm.
Ghostwriter is a Turner.show about teens that stumble upon a magic book where characters from familiar stories come to life at Village Books, the local book store. It’s up to the kids to figure out why the characters have appeared and how they will get them back into the book. Malcolm is young, full of life and ambition. He loves to lend a hand whenever he can and is all about community. He’s in his final year of University, works at Village Books and is President of the Black Student Union at his university. So this is a young man that really intends to make a change and difference in the black community.
A lot of children watched “Ghostwriter” back in the day. Did you? If not, did you have to check it out to prepare for this role? Do the two versions even connect or is this a completely different program?
Ha, I did not watch Ghostwriter back in the day. I’m afraid I wasn’t even born when it was running the first time. I did however check out episodes of this new version in preparation of joining the team. This season has brand new teens who go on a totally different adventure. So although the concept is the same, season 3 of Ghostwriter is a totally new experience.
You’ve also appeared in “Coroner” and CBC’s “Murdoch Mysteries”. Is mystery a genre you prefer?
It kind of seems like it, doesn’t it? I always thought I’d end up doing a lot more comedy, because I think I’m funny. My friends say I’m funny. Well…not in those EXACT words. It just happens that I get cast in a lot of mystery and drama. I think that’s really cool and I’m so happy to contribute in telling these kind of stories.
Breakdown the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. How does it feel being nominated?
OMG, it still feels unreal. To have my work recognized on such a massive level really makes me feel like my art is reaching people. I gave so much of myself to that show and the cast of Pipeline, and the Nomination was a HUUUGE accomplishment for me.
Is there a difference between the entertainment scene in the United States vs. the entertainment scene in Canada? If so, how do they differ?
I think our industry is very young in comparison to our American brothers. This means we are not as funded and we don’t have the international reputation the Hollywood brand holds. This is NOT to say we lack the talent. Our actors are some of the best I’ve seen and I watch a lot of movies. Canada is stepped on a lot for our talent so our artists work really hard to get ahead. Although I have ambitions to continue to penetrate the American industry, I’m very proud to be a Canadian actor.
During your journey in life and career, what has been the biggest teaching moment you’ve had?
I’d say every set I’m on is a teachable moment. I get to play with so many of the industry’s finest, most of whom have been doing this a while longer than me. Having the chance to watch and play with them all is always a master class and I’m so great to share rooms and stages with my fellow peers. A common misconception is that once you are a professional, you no longer have to train or learn. No! We are students of discovery so our work is ever continuous.
When was the last time you laughed uncontrollably and why?
I recently got together with the boys and went paint-balling. A lot of craziness happens when we are all together. These guys I have known for 15+ years. We understand each other, love each other and really bring the best out of each other. For the record, I’m the funniest of the group.
What are some things you are interested in outside of acting and what would you say is the one thing that completes you?
I’m a big gym guy. Every morning, “Rise and Grind baby”. I love hanging out with my wife. I love watching movies with her and dancing in the kitchen. I don’t know why but that’s our dancing place. We enjoy doing puzzles, watching theatre and travelling.
Let’s talk “Black Scholar Dollars” and its importance.
Black Scholar Dollars is an incredible initiative that I’m lucky enough to sit on the Board of Directors for. It is a non-for-profit organization that fundraises and accepts generously donated funds from various businesses and carefully selected corporations to create a series of grants and bursaries to be offered to students of colour attending post-secondary. Through research we found that a lot of Black and Brown students don’t attend post-secondary due to the financial burden.
OSAP is great and all but it is very much a conditional loan and the moment you graduate a hefty interest rate is applied to it which sets you further back when trying to repay off the debt your degree has created (all while trying to land a decent job in a competitive market). I wish something like this was around when I was in school – putting myself through college and university was crazy tough, financially! We wanted to ensure that financial challenges are not a limiting factor in the education of Black post-secondary students. So, that’s how Black Scholar Dollars came about.
What are your “Top 5” favorite films of all time?
Chadwick Boseman and Denzel Washington are two of my absolute heros. I love any movie they’ve been in – favourites would have to be Ma Raineys Black Bottom (the last film Chadwick did), Black Panther and Fences. Denzel recently did Macbeth which was amazing as both a theatre and film/TV actor. I love that Denzel approaches any and every role so genuinely and truthfully. I approach my work the same way. I really love comedies too. Superbad is my go-to classic funny movie. I also LOVE superhero movies! One day I’ll get to be one…hopefully…definitely. I went as Captain America for Halloween (my favorite Marvel movies)! I also love all the Batman movies (Michael Keaton is my Batman) but I have to admit Affleck, Bale and Pattinson really hold it down too! I do really love movies that make you think as well. I love what Jordan Peele is doing and I rate his stuff big time. I loved Get Out, Nope and Wendell and Wild. I love the satirical commentary of his art!
What can we expect from you in the near future? If our readers wanted to follow your journey, what is the best way to go about it?
Great Question! I’m currently working on Murdoch Mysteries! This is so exciting because they are on their 16th season and I’m so humbled to join such an amazing cast. I will also be starring in Star Trek Discovery and joining the cast of Hudson and Rex! If you want to see more of what I’m up to next, follow me on Instagram @Tony_Ofori – I do post often on my social media. All my work content goes on Instagram so that’s where you’ll find me. Other than that, I have a website that I update often as well so you can find more of me at TonyOfori.com.
Any last words for our readers?
Honestly, this industry is full of rejection. I’ve been turned down 101 times and it doesn’t even phase me anymore. It just makes me hungrier. A last piece of advice (not that you asked) but this goes for anyone and not just this industry but for anyone in any profession. Make sure your GOALS are GREATER than you GRIEFS. You’re going to have setbacks, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to have doors closed (literally and figuratively) in your face. Keep your focus. When it gets tough, that’s your time to toughen up and work harder and not dial back to take a breather.
Perseverance is a must. Remember your WHY. Why am I doing this? If you stay goal oriented and don’t get too hung up on the obstacles, then you’ll succeed. Use your hardships as boulders on your path to greatness. Just work with them and through them. Maneuver around them and continue on your road to success. I have been truly blessed to make a career over what I love to do. It’s amazing and I’m very grateful but this is just the beginning. Truthfully, I’m just getting started to make sure you join the wagon on my come-up cause I’d hate for you to be left behind. Again, be sure to follow me on Instagram @Tony_Ofori because this journey is amazing!
Photo: Tim Leyes