‘Suicide Squad’ Star Developing Film About His Struggles with Racial Identity

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Suicide Squad Farming

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is developing a film, titled Farming, that’s inspired by his unique and heartbreaking childhood, and the struggles he faced as a black child growing up in a predominantly white community.

The Suicide Squad star was born to Nigerian parents who lived in London, and when he was just six weeks old, was given to a working-class white family in a common practice during the 60s and 70s called “farming.” While growing up with his foster parents, he experienced racism at the hands of local children, who learned to fear blacks from their parents. Eventually, the hate began wearing off on young Adewale, and eventually turned to self-hate, as the actor recalls thinking of himself as white and running away from black sailors himself as a result of the views he was surrounded by. “”I just remember being petrified,” he told The Guardian. “It was as if they were the bogey man to us. Fish and chips and corned beef, that’s what I knew. Do you know what I mean?”

Eventually, the actor returned to Africa to spend time with his family, but found that when he went back to England, with darker skin to boot, that things would be even worse for him and eventually drive him to make a drastic decision. “”It was a time of standing up and standing your ground or running, and there wasn’t anywhere to run in Tilbury. The local skinhead gang really ran the streets. They made my life – and anyone’s who was a shade darker than pale – a misery.” So Adewale became a skinhead.

“When a child wants to be accepted,” he told the site, “he’ll do anything. And if it means you’re getting a certain amount of notoriety from a fight, that’s what you’ll do. If all you’ve known is racism, abuse and persecution, then all of a sudden you’re getting some recognition, that’s your new drug. That’s what you want. By the time I was 16 I was someone to reckon with. I was so eager to repudiate any connection with any immigrant race I would go above and beyond. I was desperate to belong to something. That was my drive as a teenager.”

The actor came to find himself and learned to accept his heritage between being sent to boarding school and attending college, and now aims to turn his experiences into a film.

Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s film Farming is described by The Guardian as “a neo-Dickensian tale of hardship, abandonment and solidarity, a kind of black Oliver Twist for the postwar immigration era.” He hopes to begin production on the movie later this year.

In the meantime, you can catch Adewale’s latest performance as Waylon Jones / Killer Croc in Suicide Squad, hitting theaters August 5.

pictured: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje arrives at the 2016 EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Opera House in London on Feb 14th (Photo Credit: Landmark / PR Photos)