Camden Close - Up: Lanre Malaolu

Love Camden loves its local talent. We aim to celebrate everything cultural in the borough, from Hampstead to Kilburn, from the British Library to that little café around the corner - we are always out to show what Camden has to offer. As part of this we launched our Camden Close-Up series: interviews with artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs and downright interesting figures that live, work or are inspired by the borough.

This month we interviewed Lanre Malaolu. Lanre is a director, choreographer and performer currently performing in Elephant in The Room at The Roundhouse, from the 10th - 12th of October . Elephant in The Room is an explosive solo that explores the mental health crisis and the phenomenon of toxic masculinity. This semi-autobiographical work, created and performed by Lanre Malaolu, takes a sharp sideways look at the insidious stigma around mental health issues, asking how race, class and culture can affect the way we choose to address them. And what happens when we don’t…


1. What would you would do if you weren’t doing this? What would your parallel life look like?

I mean, it’s a bit on the nose but have always said to myself that I would have studied psychology in a parallel life. I’m obsessed by human behaviour. Part of my job making theatre does require me to understand elements of human behaviour and hold them up for analysis though, right?


2. What do you think is most important: luck, chance, opportunity or hard-graft?

Nobody on this earth can deny hard graft. Without that, you have nothing as far as I’m concerned. If you have an opportunity or chance, but you’ve not done the work to prepare for it and things don’t go your way... you’re out on your ass. But if you’ve done the work and things don’t pan out, you still have the work and can learn/build from it. Hard graft is tangible and the universe respects it.

3. What has been your most career defining moment to date and why?

Making my film FIGURE and the process of creating Elephant in the Room are really critical developments for me, certainly they are impacting heavily on the direction my work takes. But then, these things aren’t as simple as a moment. A career is built from the culmination of a thousand little moments; interactions, discoveries, failures; there’s a layering that’s really key – it applies to both the way I make work and to the trajectory I follow.  


4. What are you most proud of and what are you least proud of……and why?


I’m most proud of creating the opportunity to act on creative impulse to do whatever the hell I want as an artist. To not be defined as just an actor, or just a director, or just a choreographer, or just a writer. I’ve worked hard in all those fields to try and prove that I can live as a creator/artist in all those worlds. I still have a way to go, but proud of where I’ve got so far.


I’m least proud of the fact that I’ve only been on 2 holidays. Slowly but surely changing that…

5. What does Camden mean to you?

Pure energy.


Get your tickets for Elephant in the Room here


Artist bio :

Lanre Malaolu is a director, choreographer and performer. He was chosen as the overall winner of the  Zealous Emerge performance prize, a nationwide search championing the UK’s best-emerging performance artists in 2018. Lanre was also the chosen choreographer on the inaugural OLD VIC 12 talent network.
FIGURE, a multi-award winning film which Lanre directed & choreographed, has screened at film festivals around the world including Zanzibar, Texas, Toronto and Vancouver as well as being selected for the BAFTA recognized Aesthetica Film festival in 2018. He was also the choreographer & movement artist on The British Council film Dear Mr. Shakespeare, which aired on the BBC & was selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. 


Recently, Lanre was awarded a BFI funded grant on behalf of Doc Society (Made in Truth fund) to direct and choreograph his documentary-movement film “The Circle”, which is currently in post-production.

Alongside his work in dance, Lanre is a trained actor, a graduate of Drama Centre London, working extensively in theatre & television.


Websites and social media : | Twitter: @LanreMalaolu | Instagram: @lanremalaolu #ElephantintheroomUK