Up-and-coming director Adjani Salmon on being honored by Daniel Kaluuya
Screenwriter, actor and director Adjani Salmon’s star is rising with a whole series of new awards. The most recent is the 59% Gen Now award presented to him at the inaugural Soho House Awards in London last week.
Named after Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya’s recently founded production company, the awards aim to recognize and encourage diverse creative talent, particularly from the UK, whose work is already having a clear impact on the entertainment industry, but is benefiting from some might added visibility. Kaluuya personally presented the award to Salmon at the September 1 awards ceremony.
Salmon’s best-known creation is Dreaming While Black, a comedy webseries-turned-BBC iPlayer show that chronicles a young, naïve British-Jamaican filmmaker, Kwabena (played by Salmon), as he balances battles between navigation through his ambitious dreams and the sobering reality.
In addition to the 59% Gen Now Award, recent accolades such as the Royal Television Society’s 2022 Breakthrough Award and a 2022 BAFTA in Emerging Talent: Fiction have cemented Salmon as a talent to keep an eye on for development.
Under, diversity caught up with Salmon to discuss his recent string of awards, receiving Kaluuya’s 59% Gen Now award and his future aspirations as an emerging creative in the industry.
What did it mean to be awarded the 59% Gen Now Award by Daniel Kaluuya?
Salmon: It’s a humbling feeling. He’s someone I’ve seen in the movies, so meeting him and being recognized was enough to say, “Yeah, that’s the motivation I need to keep moving forward.” Actually winning was real humiliating.
Seeing someone like Daniel, with a similar background to yours, paves the way for creatives like you – what does it all mean to you?
Salmon: While your own success doesn’t necessarily represent success for the community or us as a people, it definitely signals to us that it’s possible. And sometimes that’s all you need. For me personally, seeing him rise in this way was exceptional – especially Daniel’s career, he’s literally doing a great job. Knowing that a black Brit artist from London can have such a career lets me know I can do it too. It’s almost like a bat signal.
What are you most proud of about your work?
Salmon: I’m very proud not only of what we’ve done, but also of how we’ve done it. I think that’s what got this attention. The show [“Dreaming Whilst Black”]the first thing that got us recognition was on YouTube, so people have responded so well to broadcasting such a raw, uncompromising and unfiltered show onto a network platform while still in the TV machine.
People in England were surprised that someone would do a show like this and say what we said on the BBC. A lot of people said, “Wait, wait, how could they do that in this room?”
How was the night at the Soho House Awards?
Salmon: It’s funny because I’ve been to the BAFTAs, so it’s not like I haven’t dated celebrities. It was such an intimate space and at the same time such a high caliber of staff, literally it was like two tables down was Michaela Coel and then another table down was John Boyega and then on my left was Gugu Mbatha-Raw. I thought, “Wait a minute, what is this? How am I here?”
It felt weird being there, it was almost imposter syndrome, how was I among all these people I look up to as stars? And people were saying hello to me, so I was like, “Wait a minute, how do you know me?” It was a great night, honestly.
Where would you like to be in the next few years of your career?
Salmon: I would like to continue to work uncompromisingly and at the same time be able to have the means to do so myself. At the end of the day, every project I have is picked by a production company or we need development of networks, so I’m really still dependent on other people’s whims to say yes to me.
For me, success in the future means being in a position where I have the means and strength to do the work I want to do.
This interview has been edited and abridged.
https://variety.com/2022/scene/awards/adjani-salmon-59-gen-now-award-daniel-kaluuya-soho-house-awards-1235361816/ Up-and-coming director Adjani Salmon on being honored by Daniel Kaluuya