Tarik Frimpong ‘12 was destined for the stage.
In 2005, at just 11 years old, and just 2 years before starting his journey as a junior student at IGS, he landed his first professional role playing ‘Young Simba’ in the Australian Production of The Lion King. He also went on to tour with the show to Shanghai, China. It was an exciting time for Tarik ‘such a wonderful role to play both at the Regent Theatre and in Shanghai. Looking back, at the time I had no professional acting or singing experience’ he said.
He attributes being exposed to the industry from a young age as a contributing factor in pursuing dancing/ acting/ musical theatre as a career. ‘My parents met through dancing and Mum still teaches and owns a performing arts school – Dance Explosion, so I know the work ethic involved and how important it is to keep learning’.
Speaking with Tarik it is evident that his work ethic and desire to keep improving has enabled him to fulfil his ambitions. He mentioned he was ‘incredibly grateful to Mr Pinnell, at IGS who played a major role and was a great advocate for young boys/ men participating in theatre and really gave us a lot of confidence’.
Upon receiving accolades for Drama and Music by the School in 2012, he auditioned and continued training at Patrick Studios Australia before packing his bags and embarking on a journey to the US. At the time, he had no contacts there, just a willingness and desire to ‘learn more about his craft’ particularly Hip-Hop/ Street Jazz. He trained daily with the best of the best – the top 10 choreographers in the states and auditioned for varies roles whilst also auditioning for one of Americas leading dance agents, and subsequently being offered representation. It is here that he met performers from all over the world. It was his connection and conversations with performers in the UK that encouraged him to move to London.
Tarik returned to Australia to continue training and teaching with the sole purpose of moving to the UK. During his time in Melbourne, Tarik primarily worked as a dance teacher.
A year later he booked a one way ticket to London, backing himself to continue training, developing and to secure work as a performing artist.
Tarik secured multiple agents in London, and for his first job abroad he danced for FKA Twigs on her World Tour which provided him with a greater opportunity to dance and travel to Russia, Norway, Canada and the US.
In 2016, whilst in London, Tarik landed the role as ‘Angus’ in the Disney Motion Picture production of Mary Poppins Returns. It was a ‘real whirlwind moment from casting, production and the final release date of the movie in late 2018/ early 2019 in Australia’ he said.
Tarik also fulfilled another dream last year in London. He secured the role of Prince Abdullah in the stage production of ‘Aladdin’ on the West End. ‘An incredible experience’ he said.
His career was really taking off, whilst working on Mary Poppins he connected with the creative team particularly the Director Rob Marshall. Immediately after closing Aladdin on the West-End, Tarik began work on a new Disney Motion Picture – until production had to be postponed due to COVID-19. As a result Tarik has returned home to be with family during the pandemic, but he hopes to return to London when production resumes.
COVID-19 certainly hasn’t stopped Tarik from perusing his aspirations and his work ethic. He has founded the Artists of Colour Initiative (AOC) which is a scholarship competition designed to provide financial assistance and industry support to exceptionally talented theatre performers, based in Australia, who identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour (POC).
The initiative was born from the recognition of underrepresentation of these communities in the Australian Theatre Industry.
The aim of the scholarship is to ensure greater participation within the field of musical theatre amongst these marginalised communities.
Tarik is passionate about the performing arts and commented ‘It is so important to celebrate racial diversity in the Arts. Being of African descent it was very special to be involved in The Lion King, “being so young I appreciate The Lion King being my first professional musical theatre gig even more so now. The aim is to come together and have important conversations.
Tarik wanted to create an opportunity where he could support and celebrate ‘Artists of Colour’ by providing them with greater visibility and a stepping stone to a more racially inclusive industry.
To qualify for the AOC Initiative, applicants must identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour; be pursuing a career in musical theatre; be aged between 17 and 30 at the time of submission; be an Australian citizen or resident; not have previously secured a leading or supporting role in a main stage musical theatre production and not be engaged in or scheduled for performance-related work in a leading or supporting role at the time of submission.
Submissions for the scholarship will occur in three rounds with the first submission deadline on Monday 28 September. From there, a top 30 will be announced followed by a top six then ultimately, one winner.
To assist in curating the semi-finalists and finalists, Tarik has sourced a panel of longstanding performers, choreographers, directors, musical directors, writers and activists. All of whom identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour.
He has also started a GoFundMe campaign, where all donations will be awarded to the six finalists, for them to spend on their professional development.
So far, the AOC has raised over $20,000 with the winner receiving 50% of the donations; the runner up receiving 20% of the donations and the final four receiving 7.5% of the donations each.
To donate and support Tarik and the AOC Initiative please click on the link below.
The OIGA wishes Tarik every success in his future endeavors and looks forward in following his continued career success in the Performing Arts and with the AOC Initiative.