Arinze Kene, the Nigerian-born British actor, says he was initially “scared” when asked to take on the role of Bob Marley, the late Jamaican reggae legend, in ‘Get Up, Stand Up!’, a forthcoming musical.


Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, Marley died of cancer in 1981.

In an interview with I News, the British national morning paper published in London, Kene spoke of how he felt when he was approached to play the late Jamaican singer-songwriter.

“I was afraid at first,” said the actor and playwright, who described Marley as “scary”.


The Jamaican icon was considered a huge proponent of marijuana and for Kene, 34, who had been a Marley fan from childhood, it took time for him to come to terms with the reality of taking up the character.

“I began to sit into it and say, actually, I can do this,” he added.

Kene learning how to step into the shoes of Bob Marley (Photo: Craig Sugden)

‘Get Up, Stand Up!’ had its world premiere at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End on October 20, 2021.



Kene was born in Lagos in 1987, before moving to London at the age of four. At that time, his father was a taxi driver while his mother was a nurse.

He has appeared in stage productions, playing Simba in ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Daddy Cool’. In June 2009, he played Lothario Raymond LeGrendre in the musical ‘Been So Long’.

Kene also plays the lead in the 2010 UK film council feature ‘Freestyle’. In 2010, he joined the cast of the BBC’s soap opera ‘EastEnders’ as Connor Stanley.

Kene was born in Lagos over three decades ago (Photo: David Levene/The Guardian)

He was nominated as the ‘Best Newcomer’ at the 2011 All About Soap Bubble Awards.

Kene’s play ‘Suffocation’ opened at the Oval House Theatre in London in 2011.

He was also a member of the series three writing team for ‘EastEnders: E20’.

In 2018, he starred in ‘Misty’, which was transferred to Trafalgar Studios, a theatre in London following a sold-out run at the Bush Theatre in early 2021.


It is understood that he has taken roles in about 22 different movies and television series.

In February 2020, it was announced that Kene would play the role of Bob Marley in ‘Get Up, Stand Up!’.

Watch the musical cast video below:


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