Hackney-born producer signs up schoolboy for star-studded film
Michael De’sioye spotted Joshua in the street in Hackney Wick
A FORMER Hackney bad boy returned to the borough to cast a teenager he met on the streets in his forthcoming action movie.
Film producer Michael De’sioye selected 13-year-old schoolboy Joshua Silcott, who has had no formal drama training, to appear alongside professional actors in his new urban crime thriller, London Town, after spotting him hanging out near his home in Hackney Wick.
Now Joshua, of Eastway, Hackney Wick, will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of rapper Ironik, Su Elise Nash, formerly of R&B girl group Mis-teeq, and dance troupe Flawless.
Michael, 30, who grew up on the old Samuel Lewis estate in Amhurst Road and now lives in Essex, came back to Hackney to shoot the film about young people involved in gang culture.
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Londown Town follows two boys who friends as youngsters before taking very different paths in life.
Azad, who dreams of becoming a filmmaker, struggles to break away from the violent grip of The Endz and vicious young thug Felix The Cat.
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“Having grown up on a council estate in Hackney, I have an understanding of the subtle nuances of the manner, language and behaviour through which young people communicate,” said Michael.
“And I want to show these kids that they can be like me and that there’s hope for them to do something better with your life.”
Michael turned his life around in his mid-20s after being thrown out of four secondary schools, including Hackney Free and Parochial in Paragon Road, for fighting and disruptive behaviour, as well as studying at three different colleges.
At the age of 24, he joined an acting school at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.
“I suddenly realised there was something out there for me and needed to re-evaluate,” he said.
“It was the prospect of my mother getting fed up. She didn’t bring me up to be a bad boy and I wanted to make her proud.”
Michael was talented enough to be picked up by an agent and landed theatre and TV roles, including appearing in Julius Caesar alongside Ralph Fiennes at the Barbican Theatre in 2005.
Now he wants to show others they can do the same.
“I decided to start creating stuff and writing stuff to put myself in the position to give others the opportunity I didn’t get at first,” he said.
Michael was searching for someone to play Felix the Cat as a teenager when he saw Joshua, who goes to Mossbourne Academy in Downs Park Road, walking along Wick Road with his two cousins.
“I stopped my car and jumped out and spoke to them,” he said.
“When I started speaking to him, I knew he had everything I was looking for.
“He was completely ignoring me. He was looking at me thinking what is this bloke doing.”
“I thought this was somebody I can mentor.”
Michael discussed the film role with Joshua’s mum, Else, 40, and the teen auditioned successfully for the part.
“It was kind of weird,” said Joshua. “But I wanted to do it because I wanted to be famous.
“I hadn’t really thought about becoming an actor – mostly, I think about being a footballer. But now it’s come to me, I want to do it.
“I’ve learned my lines and I’m fine. I’m not that scared.”
“Felix the Cat is a bad boy and he does a lot of bad stuff. I know it goes on around me, I have seen it before.
“I’ve been in trouble, too, but from now on I’m going to change.”
Joshua starts filming during the October half-term holiday in and around Hackney. “Man, I’m going to see some stars,” he said.