An interview with Eugene Boateng

With many goosebump moments through a great and authentic film that is so much more than acting.

The German-Ghanaian film “Borga” moves critics and viewers with a unique concept and an outstanding acting performance. Directed by York-Fabian Raabe, the drama is more like a fictional documentary. Eugene Boateng plays the main character Kojo, a young Ghanaian growing up near electronic scrap processing in Agbogbloshie. Filled with the hope of leading a new life of prosperity in Germany, he encounters many hurdles and obstacles along the way. More a victim of his circumstances, Kojo works on himself. He makes mistakes but also learns from them to gain a foothold in the harsh reality. York-Fabian Raabe, together with Eugene Boateng, has created the story of a young person who empowers himself, doesn’t give up, and learns to believe in himself. In this way, they have created a film that shakes up the German film world and offers an alternative to stereotypical film views.

Eugene Boateng is an actor, choreographer, dancer, and model. He was born in Düsseldorf on March 20, 1985, to Ghanaian parents. Growing up in Kiefernstraße, his father instilled discipline and respect in him at an early age. Only those who work hard get what they want. He now lives in Berlin, but he has taken his values with him and now passes them on to the audience through a true-to-life story.

We interviewed Eugene and asked him questions about the film and himself.

What do you think is special about the film Borga?

Credits: Instagram @borga_themovie

For me, the special thing about “Borga” is definitely that the film is told from an African, black perspective, and that has never been done in Germany before. Also, the way of working: We created a project that we shot at eye level. That means York-Fabian Raabe, the screenwriter, and director approached me with the project. And then I was able to bring in as much of my knowledge and my culture so that the whole thing was as authentic as possible.

During the filming in Ghana, I also noticed that this project is such an important project for so many people, or actually for everyone in Ghana because they thought: For the first time, we are doing an international project where we have something to say. What we can send to the outside world with a clear conscience and say, ‘hey, this represents us properly’. We went to Ghana with a German team, which means six people from the creative team. Other than that, it was all Ghanaians working with us. So, we really created a project where we met at eye level.

What connects you to the film/story?

I grew up with my parents trying to balance life here and in Ghana parallel. They just sent our family in Ghana money to build a house and all that. Just like it is going on in “Borga”. But it’s not only like that with my parents, it’s like that with a lot of Ghanaian parents who have to go through a similar fate.

It is a heart project for me because I personally cared and care so much about telling this story. On the one hand, because it is the story of my father, but also because I have so many years and not only me, but many Ghanaians or many Afro-Germans have wished that once such a cool authentic story is told. One that we can identify with.

What would you like to give the viewers of the film to take away with them?

What I would like to give to the audience is: Believe in yourself!

York-Fabian Rabe, the director, approached me with such a project and I was able to add so much because I know who I am. After all, I know where I come from. That means I grew up with my culture and I carry it inside of me. Because of that, being aware of where I come from, who I am, I was able to give so much into the film.

What can viewers take away from the film for their own lives?

It’s not always better elsewhere. But what can I do? You should always ask yourself, what can I do? What can I do now, where I am? What can I move? And whatever you do, do it for your family.

What has motivated/inspired you the most?

My father always said discipline, discipline, discipline, respect, respect, respect. And learn, learn, learn. School, school, school. I remember one sentence. My father told me one day, “If you want to choose like a king. You have to become the king.” and that stuck in my head.

If I really want something, I have to do something to get it. That means stepping on the gas. I like to push a longer shift; and I like to do an extra hour. I step on the gas more to get where I want to get. And also dancing taught me what it means to step on the gas, to be disciplined to win a battle. I always wanted to be the best. I always wanted to be the best at dancing. That means I had to train longer than anyone else. That means even when I met with my dance partner and we trained, I made sure I was alone for four hours beforehand and trained alone until we met and then trained again for a few hours.

But then I also have role models like Will Smith and Denzel Washington, and what I learned from them above all is to say ‘no.’ So many projects, so many requests, I think it’s very important to be selective and say ‘okay, I’m not doing this role and I’m saying no to that. Because every one of my roles should be something that is very, very uplifting for my community, for all the Afro-Germans, so that they think, ‘Wow, okay, good.’ That one portrays us in such a different light.” Especially because for so many years we kind of also felt such foreign shame when we saw certain films or roles.

Right, so that’s really why my family, but also Denzel Washington and Will Smith. Then I have to add to that, my defeats. My defeats have motivated me, my defeats have made me even, even hungrier.

What do you still want to achieve in the next few years?

Credits: tapsmoments

Very, very much. I want to make movies, series, and fat productions. I’ve started writing. I’m writing a screenplay, and maybe in a next project I’ll be a book writer, and of course, I’ll star in that. I’d love to have a deal with Netflix so we can just make awesome feature films. I would like to play a boxer. But I’d also like to do a really, really cool, beautiful love story that’s really cheesy. I’d really be up for that. And yes, I can definitely imagine my own production. And I just want a lot, a lot. I also want to do action, where you run. I’m just really into really cool productions.

We are a sneaker store and of course, the question comes up if there is a sneaker that has accompanied you in your life.

Is there a sneaker that has accompanied me in my life? Yes, it is the Nike Dunk High in blue, orange, and white. This has been my dancing shoe. With this shoe, I won the most important battles, and every time I see this shoe, I somehow get a bit emotional. I don’t have the shoe myself. I think I’m going to get that one again someday. Then there’s this black Jordan 1… I think that’s the most elegant and fierce sneaker. I’m definitely going to get that one. That’s what I said in the interview the other day, that this is the shoe I’ve always wanted to buy.

Is there anything else you would like to tell/add for the readers?

Credits: tapsmoments

I think I definitely want to tell them that we won the German acting award, especially the whole Afro-German community. We are a part of the whole society here and I want us to come together, and all meet each other at eye level – Respect each other and start grabbing things together. Because only if we meet each other at eye level, tackle things together, we can really influence Germany deeply and I also like to say influence Ghana positively and influence the whole world positively. In any case, it starts with respect. If we respect our counterparts as we respect ourselves, then we can make a difference.

So let’s come together! Make the world a better place!

Julia