In his provocative new memoir, Transformed, actor/author/model Remi Adeleke tells a seemingly impossible (but true) story of his amazing path from a sprawling estate in Nigeria to humble housing in the Bronx to drug dealing, the Navy Seals, and ultimately a Hollywood and Jesus filled life with his wife and kids. At just 36 years old, Adeleke has lived quite a life.
His father, a real life Nigerian prince, died when he was just five years old. Adeleke primarily grew up in the Bronx. He was a smart kid with a devoted a mom and loving brother, but the streets pulled him in. Adeleke’s book details how he managed to get drawn into the street life with drug dealing and hustling sneakers and cell phones.
Fate intervened at the most critical times for Adeleke and his memoir provides great insight about how he managed to overcome his criminal past to join the elite Navy Seals, a military unit suited only for the most physically and mentally fit. After many missteps and a voice guiding him forward, he finally finds his way with religion and a solid family life.
In an interview with theGrio, Remi Adeleke talks about his life, his book, and who should play him in a biopic.
theGrio: This book is so visual, lots of details. I could really see every scene you wrote on the page. Did you write this yourself or did you have a writer working with you?
Remi Adeleke: This was 100% written by me. No ghost writers. When I was a kid, my mom would make me write for punishment. She would make me write essays about New York Times articles. I hated it at the time, but it provided me with a solid writing foundation. Fast forward to when I was with the Navy Seals, one of the jobs everyone hated was the intel jobs because you had to be super detailed and super visual. These reports would go everywhere, from the CIA to the FBI to the NSA or whatever agency, so you had to be meticulous. That’s where I really learned to be a visual writer.
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theGrio: This is a memoir, but of course you bring in the stories of friends and family. Have you experienced any push back from them?
Remi Adeleke: My mom had a hard time at first because of what I was talking about, but she eventually saw that I wasn’t saying anything to embarrass her and that I was just telling my story. I haven’t had any real pushback from family or friends. Some friends have said “I’ve never read a book before, but I’m going to read your book.” I haven’t had any Nigerian family say anything negative about the book that I know of.
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From African Royalty, to Bronx Hustler?? to Navy SEAL, to Entrepreneur & Writer, to At-Risk Youth Mentor = TRANSFORMED . . Remi’s story/book, #Transformed is the real version of Black Panther’s Kilmonger, and an odds defying story of transformation, failure, redemption and success. . . Book drops May 14th, but Pre-order now at Amazon link in bio, then go to the Transformed story website, and put in your order number to immediately unlock exclusive video stories that didn’t make it into the book?. . . #transformation #story #inspiration #motivation #transformational #book #bookstagram #authorsofinstagram #author #goals #bronx #newyork #startedfromthebottom #grind #inspire #motivate #gymmotivation #nevergiveup #neverquit #inspirational #motivational #navy #navyseals #veteran #actor #writer #writersofinstagram #atriskyouth #giveback
theGrio: A significant portion of your book talks about your ex-girlfriend, Cecilia. What did you wife think about that?
Remi Adeleke: My wife was so awesome about Cecilia. I actually interviewed Ceclia for this. I basically asked her to take me back to where she was emotionally and what she was thinking when we were together. All of her chapters were from interviews with her and emails we exchanged. It was such a touchy topic with my wife because I was talking about my ex-girlfriend and no spouse really wants to hear details about past relationships. But ultimately, my wife has been very supportive of me and this book.
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theGrio: In the book, you mention hearing a voice at different points telling you to take specific actions. Do you believe that was God talking to you?
Remi Adeleke: At the time, no. I thought it was my subconscious. But In retrospect, after becoming a Christian and reading in the Bible that God does speak to people and guide people, I was like “Oh my goodness, this makes sense.”
theGrio: You dad died when you were very small. Do you ever feel your father’s presence?
Remi Adeleke: Yes and no.I was five when he died. I have one full brother and one half brother. They both always say that our father didn’t leave us anything financially, but what he left us is invaluable. He left us or brains. My father was a very intelligent man. The DNA that created the brain he had runs through my veins. He gave me everything I needed when he created me. I feel like I can achieve anything in life because I’m the son of a man who created an island.
theGrio: Do you have plans to invest in Nigeria or maybe even move back there?
Remi Adeleke: I’m interested to see how the book is received in Nigeria. I definitely want to go back and spend more time there. The case is still open on my dad’s island that was taken away from him. The government offered my half brother $10 or $20 million dollars a couple years ago and he turned it down. That island today is worth billions of dollars. What happens with the island could play a role in me going back for an extended period of time. But If I do go back, it won’t be just to collect a check, it would be an opportunity to use that money to work on true government reform, bring real change.
theGrio: Will this book become a biopic? If so, who would play you?
Remi Adeleke: I’ve been approached by executive producers, directors, and studios. It’s not really a question of if, it’s more like when. I’m trying to be very selective about what team will help me tell the story. As far as who would play me, I’ve thought about Michael B. Jordan or Stephan James . I’ have an espionage thriller that’s about to go to market and we’re actually thinking about Michael and Stephan for the lead roles in that, so if they do that, chances are they wouldn’t be able to play me in my biopic. I also thought about John Boyega. He’s Nigerian. Really humble, talented guy. Great spirit.
theGrio: What’s next for you career-wise?
Remi Adeleke: The espionage thriller is done, so I’m on a new writing project now. It’s a historical Balck film. It’s about one of the first groups of African Americans to serve in special operations in the military. It’s one of those Hidden Figures type of stories that the world should know about. I came across the story and some of the guys who are still alive and I knew their truth had to be told. I’m about a third of the way done writing it. I’m also helping my mom write her book which is a prequel to mine. It’s the real life version of the Coming to America movie. My mom is American and she met my dad, an actual Nigerian prince at the MET,. She’s a New Yorker who moved to Africa with her prince. It’s going to be a good book.
Transformed is on bookshelves and on Amazon right now!