From gigs on backstage.com to backstage with Omar Epps, Stefan Holdbrook is the latest African talent climbing into mainstream acting stardom
“Overnight success” is a phrase frequently used when addressing an individual’s recent triumph without understanding the steps taken throughout their journey. In a life full of setbacks, those lucky enough to see their dreams materialize gain an understanding about how there are no shortcuts to the top.
Stefan Holdbrook (27) is chock-full of that industrial-grade persistence, making the landing of his recent acting credit as “Lil Rob” in the highly anticipated third installment of Curtis “50-cent” Jackson’s hit drama series Power Book 3: Raising Kanan a special achievement. Stefan has always been a self-starter, kickstarting his career by searching for acting gigs on backstage.com. With notable inspirations like Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Denzel Washington, Stefan always had his sights set on competing with the greats.
The New Jersey native and self-proclaimed “Legend from the 223” vehemently showcases his Ghanaian pride whenever the opportunity presents itself. Without a doubt, his burning desire to succeed as an actor is inherently fueled by his adoration for his pedigree. Aspiring to exhibit his talent on platforms large enough to shed more light on not just himself but his nation is a prime example of this.
Prior to his recent opportunity in Power, Stefan’s tenacity earned him multiple supporting roles in big-name productions such as Chicago Fire (2017), Luke Cage (2018), and Six Degrees of Murder (2017). Although these acting credits may seem minor in comparison, his effort and energy on screen never felt underdeveloped. His last role in a brief two-episode stint on season two of Netflix’s Luke Cage showed glimpses of his on-stage promise as “Mouse”, the anxious young subordinate of the series antagonist “Bushmaster”.
You can only imagine how much development has occurred between then and now. Stefan himself seems to be blossoming into his new role. He told GhanaMade how grateful he is for this golden opportunity to demonstrate his growth, describing it as the highlight of his career so far.
When asked how his friends and firmly Ghanaian parents reacted to knowing he would pursue full-time acting, Stefan recalled how naturally fearful his parents were with his decision.
Specifically concerned about the risk of instability in the industry, he explained how straying from the stereotypical ambitions of law, medicine, or engineering was initially challenging for his parents. However, he revealed how the concern and anxiety previously expressed miraculously did a disappearing act once they saw their son perform on large-scale productions. Thankfully, it doesn’t matter that “your cousin Temi is a lawyer and Ola’s a pharmacist” when your parents get to see your hard work pay off live and direct on their television screen.
However, it hasn’t necessarily been a smooth ride for Stefan on his route to power. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic creating more difficulty in securing jobs, health complications have also impeded his ability to do what he loves. He confessed that a surgery that had kept him off of the set, and forced him to take a year out from acting to recover was the lowest point in his career so far.
Fortunately, Stefan refused to allow any of these setbacks to quell his fire. His passion for acting has certainly been fortified through the quality time and attention he was allowed to perfect his craft during the pandemic. Although he says he doesn’t have a “dream role,” he is still gunning toward landing more prominent acting gigs where both he and his family can enjoy .
Stefan delivered some sage advice addressed to those who share the same journey and the people that may be considering following the same path:
“Stay the course! There’ll be a lot more NO’s than YES’s, but if you keep following your heart and stay resilient the YES’s that come along will remind you why staying grounded is so important, why you decided to join this crazy machine called entertainment.”– Stefan Holdbrook (2021)
In anticipation for his showcase as “Lil Rob”, Stefan expressed his enjoyment with the chance to stretch his legs, exploring a 90’s Southside Jamaica, Queens “street thug” archetype. Furthermore, the swarms of castmates, producers, and writers acknowledging his hard work and talent on-set undeniably provided some valuable motivation for those red-eye 3AM “night-shoots”.
The saga continues on Sunday, July 18th, via the Starz streaming service. Keep an eye out for Ghana’s own Stefan Holdbrook, a.k.a. “Lil’ Rob”, on episodes six through nine of Power Book 3: Raising Kanan alongside fellow Jersey native Mekai Curtis, Omar Epps, and Oscar-winning actor/Rapper Joey Bada$$.
Follow Stefan on his journey via his Social Media below: