TUNJI EBUN-COLE: Tale of a whizkid
A young Nigerian who has become a shining star in the Zambian film industry is Olatunji Ebun-Cole, popularly known as Tunji in Zambia’s film industry. For his dazzling role as a young actor in 201o when he was 13 years old, Tunji emerged the winner of the Black Entertainment Film, Fashion, Television and Arts Awards. Tunji, a Zambia-based Nigerian ace actor was announced as the winner of the award widely known as BEFFTA after he defeated seven other contenders, aged between 13 and 28 in the BEFFTA Young Achiever Award in the BEFFTA Special Awards Category. The young ace actor has featured as lead actor in a number of films and television movies, popular among them which is a short film titled “New Boy” nominated for Oscar Awards in 2009, where Tunji played the role of Joseph.
Born to a Nigerian father and a Zambian mother, Tunji at 13 has become a world-class actor working with the likes of David Schwimmer, a famous television/film actor cum director. Tunji played a role with Schwimmer, fondly called “Ross” in the film Run-Fat-Boy Run in the American television sit-coms. He equally played the role of “Cola Kid” in James Bond’s Casino Royale directed by Martin Campbell, who was once described by films analysts as someone who “knows how to entertain an audience when he steps behind the camera.” Tunji was also a background actor in Paul Wieland’s film, Sixty-Six, a 2006 feature film which is Wieland’s autobiographical comedy-drama, which also featuring as a “child-in-street” in David Corneberg’s film Untitled.
In 2009 when Tunji was just 11 years old, he attended the Oscars’ Award for the role he played in New Boy nominated that year for an Oscar Award. The opportunity, he said awarded him the opportunity to meet his hero, Daniel Craig, an English actor whose early film roles include Elizabeth, The Power of One and A Kid in King Arthur’s Court. He was also glad to hear Dana Haine Owens, popularly known as “Queen Latifah”, an American singer, rapper and actress, saying he had a good skin. Speaking on his experience at the Oscars’ Award, Tunji said, “I got to meet my hero Daniel Craig and Queen Latifah said I had beautiful skin.” Besides his involvement in movies and film productions, Tunji has featured in high-profile advertisements by Nickolodeon, being a term first used in 1888 by Austren Nickolodeon, a dime museum located in Boston, Massachusetts, United Kingdom.
Tunji has also featured in adverts sponsored by world-class agencies and kids’ channels such as BBC, BBC2, Sky News, ITV, JWT, CBBC, BBDO and AMV including those for Scaletrix Clarks, Sainsbury and Persil. After the award presentation, Tunji’s proud mother, Jayne Nwondela said of her son, “I am very proud of Tunji. He is such an amazing child who loves what he does and doesn’t let it get into his head. I thank God for giving me a child as Tunji.” Usually recipients of BEFFTA are chosen through votes from the public for different categories of the award but in the Special Award Category where Tunji became a beneficiary, he enjoyed the luxury of being chosen by a Special Panel of BEFFTA Members at a ceremony which held in Westminister Central Hall in London.