Ademola Akintan ’05 is a tax accountant by day and a filmmaker, script writer, stand-up comedian, and event emcee by night.
He is also a married father of three children—an 11-year-old and nine-year-old twins. So how does he find the time for his creative evening endeavors? “They are things I enjoy, and it seems you can always find time somehow for something you enjoy,” he says.
Multitasking also helps. For his latest project, Akintan combined writing, stand-up, and film to create a comedy called “Aunty from Hell.” The film, which he wrote, produced, and directed, will have its premiere at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, in Eager Auditorium at Worcester State. The event is open to the public, and admission is $10. The film, which is just under an hour long, is about an aunt from Nigeria who visits her nieces and nephews stateside with the intention of straightening them out of their spoiled American ways. Akintan says a source of inspiration for “Aunty” was Tyler Perry’s Madea character, an ornery, elderly black woman who doesn’t suffer fools—or anyone—gladly.
Screening his first movie at Worcester State seemed a natural choice. “It’s my alma mater,” he said, standing in Sullivan Auditorium during a recent visit to campus. “I remember playing in the jazz band in this auditorium. We practiced here. I took a jazz class and we had a band and I played the drums. We played around at a couple events in the city.”
Akintan said the Worcester State campus has changed dramatically since his days as an undergrad, with the completion of the new Wellness Center, additional dorms, and other improvements. “The gym is amazing,” he said. “Everything is completely different and it just doesn’t look like the same place. It looks much more like a university now.”
Akintan was born in Bloomington, Ill., to Nigerian parents who were studying at the University of Illinois. Upon graduation, his parents moved back to Nigeria, where Akintan was raised. “I didn’t stay in Illinois very long,” he said. “I was just a year old when they moved back so I don’t really have any memories of it.”
After graduating from high school in Nigeria, his parents encouraged him to go to the United States where they felt he would find better higher education opportunities. An older brother had already come to Worcester to live with a family that his parents knew and Akintan was sent to join him. “It wasn’t like they were strangers,” he said. “We knew the people we were coming to. They’re like family to us.”
Shortly after arriving, he enrolled at Quinsigamond Community College and studied there for a couple semesters. Then, he set his sights on Worcester State. “I wanted to stay in Worcester, and it looked like it was the best school for my area (accounting),” he said. “I was also considering the amount of the loan I would have after graduation, so Worcester State seemed like the right decision for me.”
Looking back, the choice was a fortuitous one because, “I met a lot of great people and was exposed to a lot of great experiences,” he said. He later went on to earn an M.B.A. at Assumption College, a solid foundation for which came from his studies at Worcester State. “It was a good education that I use at work every day and it got me into my M.B.A. program as well,” he said. “It got me to where I am today.”
Akintan was made to feel welcome at Worcester State by an organization for international students, which encouraged him to participate in campus activities. (It has since disbanded, although there is currently growing interest on campus for reviving it.) “They helped me to settle in and feel like a member of the campus community,” he said. “When you move into a new environment, you’re always looking for ways to connect. My accent was different. Everything about me was different, but the international student organization helped bring everything together.”
“Aunty from Hell” was filmed on locations mainly in Worcester but also Lowell. Some scenes were shot at Elm Park Elementary School, as well as in private homes. Actors were cast after auditioning, and Akintan had to make some tough choices to winnow the field of hopefuls. “We put out an audition call and people showed up from all over Massachusetts,” he said. The film budget was $10,000, which he and his wife bankrolled in large part from his evening and weekend work. “I host corporate events fundraisers, birthday parties, and weddings so we were able to raise funds from those extra sources of income,” he said.
How does it feel now that his first film is ready to roll?
“Scary,” he said. “You never know what the reception will be. Like any other project, you want it to succeed so you’re just working day and night to be successful.”
Is he satisfied with how it the film turned out?
“Oh, yes,” he said. “People have dreams. A successful person follows through on a dream and makes it happen, and I’m glad and very grateful that I was able to do that.”
A trailer for the film can be seen on Akintan’s website, www.Comedydr.com.
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