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Alumni Spotlight: Tokunbo Adedeinde

Our next Alumni Spotlight features our extraordinarily-talented alum, Tokunbo Adedeinde. Tokunbo is a filmmaker and actor who has been a part of Sitar’s community since he was 14 years old. He has starred in several summer musical productions including West Side Story, and the Sitar Alumni Actors’ Theater Company’s productions of The Piano Lesson and A Raisin in the Sun. We spoke with Tokunbo about his early days at Sitar, and what he’d like to see in Sitar’s future.

Tokunbo Adedeinde, Sitar Arts Center, 2019

As an artist how would you describe yourself?

TA: I would describe myself as, if I find the means, like any means, I can make art out of it.

When and how were you involved at Sitar Arts Center?

TA: It started in the summer of 2009. My mother had brought me here, and she was trying to find something for me to do during the summer. Initially, I thought I’d do visual art, but then Ms. Loretta told my mom about auditions going on for the summer musical. The musical they were doing at the time was Beauty and the Beast. My mother wanted me to do it, and prior to that, my mom and I had seen plays together, so she bribed me with a video camera to audition, because she knew my passion was with filmmaking.

Ever since I auditioned for that musical, a new dream had just been embedded in me.

Tokunbo Adedeinde
Tokunbo Adedeinde (middle) as a Sitar Summer Musical Intern in Sitar’s Production of West Side Story, 2016.

What other programs or classes did you enjoy at Sitar?

TA: Over the years, I did musical theater, a printing class, darkroom photography, and music production. I also did the documentary class with Meridian Hill Pictures, I helped produce the first documentary, ​​Life as a Collage.

Is there something about where you are now that you feel Sitar really helped you with?

TA: Thanks to Sitar, I know what I envision myself in the future, which is definitely to be a filmmaker, actor, and overall entertainer of all sorts. Honestly, I really cannot thank Sitar enough for that, for the people here, for pushing me to get into those fields. It helped me feel not only comfortable, but welcomed. Also, I knew it would be hard, but in the long-run, I will just remember all the skills I gained here in the program.

Tokunbo at Sitar’s annual benefit gala in 2019. (James R. Brantley)
Tokunbo Adedeinde and Brandon Kramer, Lance Kramer, and Ellie Walton of Meridian Hill Pictures at Sitar’s annual gala, 2019.

What skills did you develop?

TA: I developed simple skills like how to work with people. You may deal with difficult people anywhere you go, and especially in the theater world, you deal with plenty of people. I learned how to be ready for anything to happen, and to be prepared. For instance, since I was the fight captain for [West Side Story, Sitar’s 2016 summer musical], I had to step in to do the fight choreography during a performance for an actor when they weren’t feeling well. That taught me to be ready for anything. And for performances, always have your lines ready, and that helped me with my memorization skills.

In February of 2019, you played a lead in the first Sitar Alumni Actors’ Theater Company’s production of A Raisin in the Sun. How would you describe that experience of coming back to Sitar, and what did it feel like being a part of a new program?

TA: It felt like we definitely matured, especially with the production alone. It was a more mature role, and more intense subject matter, and it helped me grow as an actor. It also helped me to keep pursuing my goal of being an actor. Just from that alone, it helped to not only express myself, but just be able to understand the characters and many different aspects of life.

How do you feel walking into Sitar Arts Center? Is there something about this place that’s meaningful to you, and why?

TA: When walking into Sitar Arts Center, I definitely feel like it’s a second home. I appreciate that, and seeing new faces, and old faces. They haven’t lost their way since I was a kid, they haven’t lost their values on what they want for kids, their program, and what they want for the community.

Why has engagement in the arts been meaningful in your life?

Engagement in the arts has been meaningful because I feel it’s another way for me to express myself. To me, it’s very therapeutic, and it’s something I’ve always appreciated since being a kid. Whether that’s music or films, I appreciate the various forms of creativity in the arts, and finding ways to do other things with it. I appreciate it!

Sitar Alumni Actors’ Theater Company’s production of The Piano Lesson, 2020

What kinds of programs would you like to see Sitar offer that we don’t already?

In the future, I hope we do more work with the alumni community, that way it doesn’t feel like they’ve aged out or drifted away, that way we can stay connected. Also, in the future, I’d like to see a production company through Sitar Arts Center. I think that would be cool. That way, there’s another outlet in the DC community, where you’ll have many talents, and they don’t have to worry about going to New York, or L.A. They could find work right here in DC. I would definitely help out with that.

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