In conversation with Kit Esuruoso

"Redroofs was always really good at encouraging you to give 110% and helping you to see what you're capable of, because that's how you realise your potential" Kit Esuruoso

Floated Image Kit at the AACTA Awards with Akoni
Nominated for Best Indie Film (Sydney, Australia)

"I just remember how it felt like a big family. I remember the shows at the Novello theatre around Christmas time which were always fun. Us theatre kids, us thespians, we're a special breed of people, so there's no other place quite like it", Kit reminisces, thinking back on his days as a pupil at Redroofs.

"Redroofs was always really good at encouraging you to give 110% and seeing what you're capable of, because that's how you realise your potential. And sometimes that can be scary, because when we set ourselves a task we almost set the conditions for failure, whatever that means. But failure is just an opportunity for growth. You can't succeed without failing. No one comes out just succeeding in life, in any aspect of their lives... it's about the lessons you learn"

After many years at Redroofs, Kit went to boarding school for 6th Form before earning a BA degree in Musical Theatre from the illustrious Mountview. He received an astounding 30 offers from agents hoping to represent him following graduation. His career has since gone from strength to strength, with his agent calling him moments before this interview with the news that he has booked a role in the West End production of Bonnie & Clyde this spring!

He recently won the Best Actor award at the Australian Screen Awards for his breakout role in the independent feature film, Akoni.

Some of Kit's major theatre credits include Showboat, The Crucible, Tina: The Musical, West Side Story, and Spring Awakening, as well as various workshops including Jekyll & Hyde.

"When you're workshopping a new show you're working very closely with the writing team", Kit begins. "A lot of the time it will be the first time they're putting everything together, seeing how the flow of the story works, seeing how the songs work".

"When you do workshops with new work you can give input. Do you mind if I try like this? Why don't we try the intention this way? And that's the same for original West End casts. I love that. I think often workshops can be more artistically juicy", he explains.

Being cast in a workshop can also get an actor's foot in the door for a role if the production goes on to become a full-scale production.

"Sometimes you do a workshop and then the show just doesn't get any support, so that's it. And then sometimes you do workshop and you get a call from your agent 12 months later saying they're casting and they want to see you", says Kit.

Floated Image Performance shot from Spring Awakening Almeida Theatre, London

"I've got to a point where maybe about a quarter of my jobs now are because I've worked with someone before or because I've been recommended by someone who I have worked with. So the relationships you build are really important for the longevity of your career".

"There's so many people, just being the best in the room doesn't mean you have the most fruitful career because there's always somebody as talented, if not more talented, than you. But how you work with people, how you are as a cast member, as a teammate, that really is what gets people favourable of you".

"I was on the red carpet with Chris Hemsworth, Rebel Wilson, Russell Crowe. It was a very surreal experience"

The last two years have seen Kit stepping out of his theatrical comfort zone and into the world of film, where he has started making waves in the world of independent cinema.

Starring in his first ever feature film, Akoni, Kit won the Best Actor Award at the Australian Screen Awards, and Akoni was nominated for an AACTA Award (the Australian equivalent of the Oscars). "I was on the red carpet with Chris Hemsworth, Rebel Wilson, Russell Crowe. It was very a surreal experience", he says, thinking back on the experience.

Akoni tells the story of a homeless Nigerian refugee who is forced to flee his homeland and integrate into Western society, interlaced with a gritty love story. "It's just the kind of story that I'd want to tell", says Kit.

And how did this opportunity come about? The producer and writer of a new film (Akoni) had come to see Showboat while Kit was performing one of the lead roles as an understudy.

"Afterwards they hung out with the cast, and I was talking to the writer. She said, 'we loved the energy and the integrity you had. I think you could be right for the guy'".

After a series of self-tapes for this role, Kit received an offer for another role in Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, "but by then I really wanted to do this film".

"At that time, I thought, "how often do you get to play the lead on a film? The West End will always be there". I think the opportunity to star in a film that has the correct backing distribution and a story like that is so rare, so I had to grab it with both hands".

Reaching out to the Akoni team, Kit told them about his other job offer, stating it would book him out for the next 12 months, but he would still like to work on the film if it was going ahead. The producers invited him out to Australia to meet the team.

"I joined them at Melbourne International Film Festival that was happening that week. We talked about the film, what they're going to do with it, and met a couple of cast members. Eventually they said they'd love to offer me the role. Two months later, I was to fly to Australia for the next 10 months".

Kit ended up staying in Australia for much longer than the shoot itself, booking a role in a play whilst out there and taking a couple of months to travel around the country. He's been going back and forth since. "When I was on Tina Turner the Musical, I had to use my holidays to do some reshoots for the film. And then I did the press tour last year for the film, which was two weeks", he explains.

The Akoni press tour is the first that Kit has been a part of. "I was in a different city every day, and in each city I had interviews or screenings with Q&A's after. It's basically where they line up a bunch of screenings in different cities over a short period of time. You're travelling all the time. You're basically on the road", he says.

"I didn't do it for that long, I think our press tour was only about nine days. I was absolutely exhausted by the end but it was a lot of fun. We had a really big Sydney premiere, which was full on red carpet, and we had some of the top journalists in Australia doing a Q&A on stage with us. It's go, go go, but it is fun".

Floated Image Still from Akoni.

Akoni was just the start of Kit's on-screen career, and he stars in a new thriller that is being released this spring.

"We finished shooting at the end of 2021. That one was really fun to do, because I have a really good fight scene", he laughs. The film's fight scenes were put together by the same fight coordinator as Gangs of London.

"This was the first time I've done an extensive fight scene. I loved it. I think the reason I enjoyed it was because I dance, and it's not too dissimilar to learning choreography", says Kit.

"We'd have an hour and a half with the coordinator to learn it and rehearse it, and then we'd shoot. You have to do it so many times because they have to get all the different angles".

"There's no small role on set. You're you're an entire team. And so everybody should be treated with the same level of grace and respect"

While they have their similarities, acting for stage and acting for screen utilise very different skill sets. Having spent his career so-far playing to big West End audiences, Kit suddenly needed to change his performance style to suit the up-close nature of the camera.

"One thing I love about theatre is that you get the immediate feedback from the audience which is always really nice. And you go through the story arc of your character. Whereas TV and film... they hardly ever shoot chronologically. So you can shoot the most dramatic scene first. You don't get that immediate feedback and you don't have an arc to follow. It can require more from you emotionally over an extended period of time", explains Kit.

"A lot of the time with TV and film you'll have very long days, so understanding how to pace yourself is part of being professional. You have to sustain the emotional state of your character over extended periods of time", he continues.

"TV and film is a lot more realistic than theatre. It's very subtle because the camera's often private... they're very close so you don't have to display as much. If you do display as much it seems over acted. Less is more on screen"

His advice to aspiring screen actors is to "always, always come to set knowing your lines. Always be prepared, because there's nothing more unprofessional than an actor who comes to set not knowing their lines".

"The other thing I would say is there's no small role on set. You're you're an entire team. And so everybody should be treated with the same level of grace and respect".

"I like to say that I'm lucky enough to have the opportunities that I've had, but I work on my craft hard enough to seize them"

Last year, Kit had a career-propelling offer off the back of his work on Akoni.

"I signed with a manager in Hollywood", he exclaims.

"It's just kind of got to that point where you want to go big or go home, so you have to you have to branch out, right? You have to know when to capitalise on certain moments. So the fact that I won Best Actor in the film, there was a lot of press about the film and a lot of articles. I do a lot of interviews that really helped garner some attention"

"I reached out and they gave me a shot. I like to say that I'm lucky enough to have the opportunities that I've had, but I work on my craft hard enough to seize them".

Though the British and American screen industries are deeply intertwined, they each have their differences.

"It's very fast over there in LA. A lot of things are very last minute... I'd have to send the self tape off by this Friday, then if I got it I'd be flying out to the States on Monday", Kit begins.

"They're more willing to take risks on new work whereas sometimes you can find here, especially when it comes to TV and film, a lot of the time they might ask for a name to be attached to it. I understand it, because investors want to make sure they're getting their money back, etc. There's just more opportunity for support over there, I would say".

As his career gains momentum, Kit is in the fortunate position where he gets more choice about the productions he works on. He vets every offer by asking himself three pivotal questions:

"The first one is: am I working with somebody who's worth working with, that I want to have a relationship with? The second question is: is it a step in the right direction. For example, if I was in the ensemble before, is it a names part now? If I was doing named roles, is it a lead? Is it a step up or a step in the right direction in terms of, maybe, the ranking of the role that I'm going for? And the third question is: does the project itself actually excite me? Is this a piece of work that I go, 'I really want to be a part of this'?".

"If it's not a 'yes' to any of those questions then I genuinely will say no".

Despite getting his first taste of life as a screen actor, Kit doesn't plan on leaving the world of theatre behind him. "I'm not stepping away from theatre. I love theatre. But I'm definitely more picky about what I choose to do now", he says. "I've been very fortunate; I've ticked a lot of boxes on that side of my career, so now I want to be known to more of the screen casting directions".

"One of my goals this year is to book a job in the States now that I've got an LA manager. And with two films coming out this year as well I want to capitalise on that and get some more eyes on me as a screen actor as well as a theatre one", he explains.

"The whole package isn't just about talent. It's about who you are to work with as well"

Floated Image Kit with his classmates at Redroofs.

As for advice from Kit to current Redroofians, he offers the following:

Firstly, "Always be prepared. Know your stuff. Know the text, know who it's been written by, why they wrote it and what they're trying to convey".

Secondly, "Be a pleasant person to work with. No matter how good you are there's always going to be someone out there better than you. There aways is. So the whole package isn't just about talent. It's about who you are to work with as well". 

And Kit's final words of wisdom to the Redroofians of today?

"Have fun! You have to have fun with what you're doing. Why are you here if you're not having fun? If you get to do this, it's a blessing that you have the opportunity to".


Afterword from Sam Keston

Having known Kit across a number of years it’s so pleasing to read his words He is a fun loving perfectionist, eager, and incredibly charming but so humble and committed to the craft and his company. An absolute gentleman who gives his full commitment to whatever he takes on, it is no surprise to see him flourish. Watch this space - Kit is a star!