We all have dreams, and we all want to experience them. However, when we see something as impossible to accomplish, we often argue with our own limitations. Sometimes, we complain about why things don’t work out the way we wanted, feel guilty for not doing enough, or even think that it is someone else’s fault. All of this amounts to us relinquishing control over all of the wonderful experiences we can make for ourselves.
Regardless of our contextual upbringing, we choose to give attention to anything in our vastly diverse universe through our focus. For that, we all can shift and mold our belief system to be in synergy with our desires and dreams. Alex Barima is an artist who was born in Montreal, Canada, to immigrant parents originally from the Ivory Coast, West Africa. He says, “I grew up pretty normal, and always wanted to work in film and TV. My parents weren’t too excited about it, especially being immigrants. They really didn’t know anything about that world. But by the time I was 16 years old, and they realized that I wasn’t growing out of it. They said, ‘Okay, do what you want, and we’ll see what happens.’ So, here I am; I moved from Montreal, almost ten years ago, to Vancouver to start my acting journey. The rest is history.”
Although it is nice to have the support of our loved ones, our expectations to succeed start and continue with ourselves. From that time on, we become that inspiring example to others. We either can focus on a problem or start shifting our attention towards the solutions.
“So, we were actually finishing filming the TV series Resident Alien when everything shut down. We had around a couple of weeks left of shooting, but we had to shut down immediately, which was very emotional for everybody. I wasn’t at work that day, but I remember getting the phone call from Chris Sheridan about all of that. It was very sad and disappointing. But at the same time, we were in a very critical situation, and the world was changing very fast. We had to do our part and just slow down as well. This past year, a lot of things have been brought into perspective, such as relationships, especially what’s important in terms of what we do every day; what we consider vital to our daily lives—all of that has shifted in terms of work and even leisure. Everything we took for granted has been either modified greatly or taken away. And so, for me, it was really about social life. Having to readjust that and find different ways to connect with people at first was very difficult. But as much as it’s been hard, I’ve also learned a lot, and many of my relationships have grown stronger and progressed for the better,” says Alex.
It is impossible to live life being only confident. There will always be something we observe that will cause some kind of discomfort. Those moments are equally valuable to what is considered a positive experience, as they bring out the clarity of what we want and a fuller sense of appreciation and love. Once the desire it’s clear, there is nothing to hold; it’s time to release the wanting to the most adventurous discovery about how it will manifest itself in our reality in its beautiful creative expression.
Alex also shares, “I feel like even before the outbreak of COVID-19, our generation has been forced into being more creative, just because of how fast things move, and due to technology and innovations, they happen at an exponential level. If you look at the year 2000 until 2020, it’s got nothing to do with what was going on 70 years ago. Now, everybody’s got a computer in their pocket. So, it’s important for us, especially younger people, to get ahead and to find that creative spark in order to be able to stand out, to create value—whether it’s through entertainment or utility. And so, I really admire this generation of young workers who just get out there and take a leap of faith and say, ‘I have an idea, I’m going to run with it. I’m going to see if I can inspire anybody else to follow along with me. And we’re going to see if we can make some magic happen.’ People are always going to want to hear stories. So, it kind of boils down to what and how I can innovate within my industry and profession. For that, honestly, I just rely on the people around me. I know so many amazing people who work in this field—whether it’s in front of the camera or behind the camera. It’s very easy for me to draw inspiration from them every day. And that’s what I do, and I try to integrate it into my work as much as possible.”
People want to hear more and more authentic stories that represent our current world. Getting more inclusive of everything and everyone is only natural for the human becoming. However, there is a rainbow of narratives still being told in stereotypical ways in any and within all cultural contexts. Breaking those stereotypes is up to us, as we have the choice to tell the story about our lives that is empowering and uplifting to ourselves and others.
“Representation, especially more in recent years, has become a very talked-about subject. It’s always been very sensitive; it’s always been very complicated. In my sense, it’s always been something that I care about very much. But for me, it’s a constant learning process about what does it truly means to have representation. Because while everyone wants to be seen and heard as well, I think that’s a noble thing, and we should strive to hear and see as many people as humanly possible. At the same time, there is a question of integrity and how we go about it—and that’s very important. So, the conversation right now, where the tension lies is in the difference between having proper representation versus checking boxes. A lot of people, including myself being a black actor, have that concern. I’ve been very fortunate to have countless opportunities to prove myself, and I’ve managed to actually make a living off of my career, which not many people can do. Now, where does representation fits into this? That it’s harder for me to get roles as a black actor? Personally, I would say no, but there are probably many black actors who would disagree. And that’s fine because it’s their experience and everyone’s experience is a valid button when it comes to what is the solution to addressing this,” Alex speaks about his personal journey as an actor.
When we wait for others to change, we are giving away our own innate strength and freedom to focus on what feels best at any given moment. We can be the first to do something that has never been achieved before, even though no one else has ever done it before.
“Personally, I really want everybody to get the opportunities that they deserve, regardless of their background. But an opportunity also doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, and I think that’s important to remember.”
Success truly means different things to people; for some, success means piling up physical wealth; for others, it might mean spiritual awakening and everything in between. It makes no difference what it is as long as we enjoy the journey because once we arrive at the destination, it happens in a glimpse of a moment compared to the discovery ride towards that which we desired so much.
Alex shares his perspective about success, saying, “It translates to tapping into your own power. And I think that’s what’s holding a lot of people back. It’s literally just a mindset that many people have fallen into, which is to deny their own power and give power to other people over them. And I’m not saying that we don’t have responsibilities. I mean, we all have bosses, we all have deadlines, we all have bills to pay. But I think that the more control we take over our own lives and responsibilities, the better we will be not only for ourselves but for everyone around us—our family or friends. And to be honest, it’s very new for me to think about it consciously. I believe I was already aware of it subconsciously, but I couldn’t put it into words. And in the last couple of years, after doing a bit of reading and introspection on the subject, it became crystal clear to me that I was the one creating my own destiny.”
Alex not only creates his own destiny but, as an actor, also creates other realities he can experience. David Logan, an undercover operative, is a character Alex is currently playing to be in the Syfy series Resident Alien.
“I don’t consider the characters I play as specific people because I enjoy playing all of them. It’s not only about the connection between David and I; it’s just the whole experience of being part of Resident Alien. It’s the people I get to work with every day, the people with whom I develop relationships, and it’s the whole journey of being on the show—from reading the scripts, to her wearing the costumes, to filming the scenes, to finally being able to watch the show, which I always do at the end. And it’s been really awesome to see the response to David’s character online as well because so many people are rooting for him, which I didn’t expect because he always kind of saw himself as a bit of a slime ball. And it’s been really cool to see people online. Just go like, ‘Oh, my God, David needs to get away from this partner of his because she’s crazy and he deserves so much better.’ So, it’s been a really nice surprise.”
Alex, a big fan of comedy, has always enjoyed making people laugh. He says, “I think a lot of my friends will say I’m a pretty funny guy, which I hope is true. But yeah, that’s always been my favorite. We don’t get to do a lot of comedy out here in Vancouver. So, being a part of a show that I actually find funny is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I just want people to be happy when they watch it. I want them to have a good time, especially nowadays, with everything that’s happening. I want them to be able to kind of check out all the problems and say, ‘Okay, it’s Wednesday night, we’re gonna watch Resident Alien, we’re just going to be invested in this crazy story. We’re gonna laugh, and we’re gonna have a good time for an hour.’ And I think we’ve managed to achieve it so far.”
Also, Alex is a voiceover actor with some amazing projects under his belt. He found the balance in doing both, and he sees the benefit and joy of experiencing either of them equally being fully present when he does act or voiceover.
“When you’re doing a film, there are so many distractions, like you wouldn’t believe how distracting it is—you have to stand in a specific spot and look at a specific spot. Plus there are people working and a lot is going on around you, like there’s nothing real, and that experience it’s so cool. When you’re voice acting, it’s just like everything is right there—everything is in your performance.”
Alex is passionate about other projects, saying, “I am looking ahead now to season two of Resident Alien. I have a couple of projects on the way: a voiceover film that I’m very excited about but can’t say much about, and a new Apple TV show that’s coming out in the summer that I believe I can’t say much about either.”
One of Alex’s favorites is giving back to the community by getting children to access education, supporting several humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, and visiting schools and speaking to children, aiming to inspire them to follow to make their dreams come true. “I love people. I love talking to people. I love meeting new people. I love learning from people. I love hearing their experiences. I love sharing. So, for me, anytime I get to connect with someone on a genuine level, that’s always the best part of being alive because I believe part of the reason we’re here is just to help, communicate, and understand each other as much as possible.”
Even though Alex has been in acting for most of his life, he says, “When it comes to film and TV, I don’t usually get nervous; however, it can be very intimidating, too. So, it’s not always easy, obviously, sometimes you really want things to go well, and then they don’t go as well as you want. Then you think about it, and you get depressed for a couple of days—that’s just part of it. I think it’s just remembering to build that habit of believing in yourself and also letting go of things you can’t control.”
Just like Alex, we all carry the ability to allow ourselves to embrace any situation and then shift our attention in anything direction that feels best to us.
Photography // Dale Klippenstein