How didThe Rake’s photoshoot match up with your personal style
Ah, the shoot was so much fun, man. We got really creative. I didn’t really know what my personal style was until
ever so recently, but it’s this sort of gentlemanly but simple approach — not too flashy but just noticeable enough.
And it’s all about being comfortable, without having to hold yourself in a particular way to show your best side —
that’s just not me.
I hear you’ve used lockdown to embark on plenty of side projects?
I madly decided to open three other companies: a production company, a games company and a comic book company, and
the games one has been in full force, writing, creating content… Gaming and its interactive storytelling has really
shaped my creativity. If it wasn’t for games I wouldn’t be an actor, simply because that was my only way of
My family don’t really come from an artistic background. I loved books as a child but I was dyslexic, and so reading
was a chore, whereas with games I was able to throw myself into these characters’ worlds and wear their shoes and go
on a journey with them. They played a huge role in crafting my head as a kid. The gaming community gets a bad rep —
this idea of it being quite aggressive and angry — but it’s actually an incredibly intelligent and empathetic one.
There is a lot of interesting, moving narratives coming out of it now that form these really emotional connections
So when did the acting bug first hit you?
I was playing a wild game called Kingdom Hearts, and I remember being so moved by the characters. It’s all voiced,
which really is acting, and I thought, I want to be able to cause those emotional shifts in other people.
How did that dream come to fruition?
I grew up in a small council house in quite a rough area — the Knella part of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire —
so it’s not necessarily good to hang out with people after school. Mum and dad put me into martial arts classes — I
did jiu-jitsu for about 10 years — but then they threw me into this physical youth theatre class after I’d said I
wanted to try my hand at that. And this guy holding the classes — this guy is probably why I’m here talking to you
today — said to me, “You’re really good, you should consider doing this seriously!” Totally out of the blue.
I gather your first televisiongig, though —The
Jury— was something of a baptism of fire?
Oh, my Lord, yeah. When I went to the audition I had no idea what auditioning was, no idea about how to learn lines,
and when the casting director said, “O.K., are you ready?”, the 16-year-old me just froze there thinking, What am I
supposed to do? in front of this rolling camera.
Weirdly I got the part — thank you, Amy! — but on the day of filming, it was supposed to be this nice easy barbecue
scene in America but there was a rewrite and I was told, “Right, you’re actually going to be sleeping next to your
partner in this scene, at night, naked, and you’re not going to be talking in English — you’re going to be talking
in Sudanese”. I learned the lines in Sudanese that day and got my kit off that day, and it was a case of, O.K, so
this is what the film industry’s all about…
With special thanks to Rosewood London
Photographer's Assistants: Edgar Chudoba & Kane Hulse
Fashion Assistant: Amelia Hudson
Grooming: Jennie Roberts
Read the full Abubakar Salim interview in Issue 73 of The Rake - on newsstands now.
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