“You never know when this will happen to you,” says Vivienne Acheampong. Speaking from the living room of his London apartment, the “it” he’s referring to is an elusive role or series of opportunities that makes one a sought-after and regularly working actor, and an actor who can quit the job he holds. He was working to pay the bills. After several years serving as an elementary school teacher in between acting roles, Acheampong made the career move in 2019 as a regular on the BAFTA Award-winning comedy show. FamalHe recently appeared at London’s Royal Court Theater in Aleshea Harris’s revenge drama. He is God. After that, he is starring in the Netflix series. hypnotic.
“I’m biased, but I think people will love it,” he says of the show, which is based on Neil Gaiman’s fantasy comedy and sees his character, Lucien, play Morpheus, Tom Sturridge’s right-hand man. Ahead of the August 5 premiere, he’s reflecting on teaching and achievement in his current role.
He worked as a substitute teacher, what we call a substitute in the United States. How was your teaching style?
You are very strict. The kids were always saying, “Yeah..alternate teacher!” So I had to go in really hard and say, “I’m your teacher today, so you have to listen to me.” He was stern, but he was crying inside.
What drew you to him? hypnotic?
I loved the whole concept, and I loved [Lucienne]Who is this calm and intelligent presence. I am also very interested in this topic of dreams. I had just lost my dad about a year before starting this project and my dreams became very important to me because my dad was in them so much. I thought, “I’d like to have that part,” and then I got it. So far, I can’t believe it.
You did a lot of comedy, how was it like filming fantasy?
It was a huge learning experience. I’ve never done anything like this and never worked with green screen. The first day of filming looked like a sketch of what it’s like to be on a set.
Hair is a hot topic among black women. Do you always wear your short haircut?
No, I’ve always been obsessed with my hair, like obsessed. And then when I lost my dad, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. It was really strange. So I went to the barber and cut everything. When my cousin from Ghana came to see me, he said to me, “Do you know that in our tribe, when women lose their parents, they cut their hair?” And I didn’t know that.
Are you nervous about Thypnotic the first show?
It’s scary, but Kirby Howell Baptiste, who is on the show, gave me great advice. She said, “No matter what happens, just remember how you felt while doing the job, because that’s what will stay with you.”
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the July 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.