For many actors, working with Denzel Washington is the highlight of their career, but for young Jovan Adepo, the journey has just started.

Adepo, a rising star in Hollywood, is a British-born actor of Nigerian and African-American descent.

His first major screen effort was playing Michael Murphy in the HBO television series, The Leftovers, but his role in the Washington-directed drama film, Fences, is what endeared him to the world.

Denzel Washington, Jovan Adepo in Fences
Denzel Washington, Jovan Adepo in Fences

Here are 8 things to know about him.

1. Adepo is the grandson of the late Fatai Adepo, special adviser to former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on prison matters. The late Adepo was a well known public official and was part of the team assigned with reforming the prison system during Obasanjo’s administration.

2. Jovan Adepo was born in Oxfordshire. He recently revealed that his grandfather always wanted to pursue the arts and aspired to have a stage career in England.

“He never had the courage to actually pursue it full-time. I think that my grandfather’s parents thought that it wasn’t a formidable job to have. They wanted him to either get into politics—which he ultimately ended up doing, working for the Nigerian president—or to be a doctor or lawyer. Something that could create wealth for his family for years to come,” he told Interview Magazine.

3. The actor thought he would play professional football when he first got to college, especially after playing in high school but that was not to be his destiny – at least, for now.

4. By his “second or third” year in college, he decided to change his career after being unable to get enough game time in the football team.

Some members of the Fences cast
Some members of the Fences cast

5. Jovan Adepo majored in political science because he felt that politics was where he could have a career in “arguing, debating, and getting to write papers”.

6. He moved to Los Angeles, U.S. in 2011 after getting his bachelors in political science. In LA, he got into the entertainment industry, attended acting workshops and eventually met his “mentors” who pointed him in the right direction and helped finetune his craft.

7. Jovan’s first ever acting job was for the Disney Channel, acting alongside Zendaya Coleman in K.C. Undercover.

8. The actor says he was very nervous to meet and audition for Denzel Washington. Adepo said auditioning for Fences was very challenging, and “probably one of the most exhausting” that he’s ever been on.

“I was really nervous upon meeting him for the first time. He did everything that he could to disarm all of my anxiety: ‘Calm down, put the script down, there’s no wrong choice here; just play’,” he said about his first interaction with Washington.

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