First time performer Abraham Attah won Best Male Lead for his role as child soldier Agu in Beasts of No Nation in the 31st Film Independent Spirit Awards. On receiving the award, Attah thanked the producers, Idris Elba (Prometheus) and the director Cary Fukunaga (True Detective Season 1), among others. Attah was a street vendor and student in Ghana when he was cast as Agu in the gripping war drama.
While there was speculation early on that Attah might be nominated for an Oscar, he attended the ceremony as a presenter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, casting director Harrison Nesbit found Attah on a soccer field and approached him to audition. In Attah’s version of the story, “We were playing football in front of a school, and a white man came and said we need some boys for a movie”.
Those involved in the film engaged in an interesting audition process involving “1000 kids”. Attah was chosen for a callback because “there was just this kind of charm about him”. In an interview with Indiewire, Nesbit praised Attah’s natural acting abilities, saying, “he wasn’t pretending” and “he just had a soulful presence about him”.
Idris Elba, Attah’s co-actor even made a point of bringing the youngster up on stage and thanking him while receiving his own Best Supporting Actor award. Here’s to hoping we see a lot more from the bourgeoning young actor in the future.