We had the good fortune of connecting with Shalom C. Obiago and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shalom C., what is the most important factor behind your success?
Two things: Drive > motivation & Believing that I am “special”. Drive over motivation is important because this life will throw stones at you emotionally, financially, health-wise, etc. and those will all take a toll on the level of motivation you have. The reality is, most of us rely on motivation to fuel our action; doing things when we “feel” it. And when life dims that fire a bit, you’re left stagnant until it reignites. Drive, however, is an innate urge to attain a goal; a need. That can’t be diminished by the stones of life. I’ve been successful because I shifted my focus from motivation to drive, not just by establishing a routine or keeping an agenda, but by deciding the kind of person I wanted to be in regards to my goal. If I want to gain 10lbs of muscle, I don’t start with simply creating a routine. I start by defining WHO I want to be; “I want to be the kind of person that does not miss a workout. That does not quit.” And that’s what gets me up every morning to do just that.
Secondly, you must believe that you are special. This world is full of far more people that will tell you what you CANNOT do than those who will tell you what you CAN. At every stage of my life, there are people telling me how thing #1 is too difficult to do, how thing #2 is “normally” done this way, how thing #3 “usually” turns out like this, and so on. And my response is always: “Yeah…for them.” I keep an open mind, but I always keep in my head and my heart that I. Am. Special. Say it until you believe it because I wouldn’t be where I am today at 22 years old if I let all the mediocre wisdom determine my path. Figure out your own way, and take that journey. Trust me, people will start to ask you “how?” soon.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a Nigerian American actor and filmmaker and one of my biggest goals is to use cinema and performance to help bridge the gap between Africa and the world; create a more culturally connected world and reveal the undervalued gems of African culture. I’m most excited about my first series regular role which I booked just this week; we start shooting in LA shortly. Thank God! I got to where I am by developing an Unstoppable Drive and by Believing that I am special; not letting the world bring me down to the level of mediocrity. Greatness never comes easily, but my faith in God and myself is more than enough to get me through. Not to mention a strong support team.
One of the biggest lessons I want young creatives to know is this: Do Whatever You Can, with Whatever You Have, Wherever You Are. Read that again. My Ivy League education played a role in my series regular booking 4 months after I graduated. You never NEED to be in a specific place or HAVE a specific thing to achieve what you want. Take note of where you are now. And recognize where you want to be. Then be resourceful, be curious, and have faith in yourself to find a way to get where you want to be. Trust me, EVERYTHING is much more connected than you think.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would hope my friend brought gym clothes because we’re waking up at 6AM to get a lift in. We would probably go watch a couple movies at IPIC Theatre, go to the gun range to shoot, take some boxing classes, and EAT like animals. Some of my favorite places in Atlanta are RA Sushi, Folk Art, Gusto, and Juke Joint (if they ever open back up…).
I would suggest checking out some of the historical museums in the city or actually going out of the city and enjoying some nature at Tallulah Falls or Sweetwater. And you can’t leave without walking Stone Mountain at least once.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this article to my mother. She came from Nigeria to America, on her own, and raised two young men with no help. To this day, she is the hardest working person I know and I hope to have just a fraction of her resilience and dedication to my goals and my family. My older brother, Dilim, is my best friend and dang near raised me as a father himself.
I have to thank my team and friends in BET Networks scripted who always look out for me and gave me the most meaningful experience a young creative could have. Michele, Rose Catherine, Kim, Daniel, y’all are the truth. I also have to recognize my coach Carl Kennedy, one of the most talented and generous people I have met. And I appreciate my friends who support me always; you don’t find a lot of that these days.