Pretty women, new designers and an all-around good time: a New York Fashion Week starter pack for the actor on the rise if ever there was one. And to hear Kofi Siriboe list off the above as his expected highlights from this season’s collections, it’s assumed the young actor won’t leave disappointed.
“I’ve been working for the past seven months and dressing up as these characters, and I’m not free when I’m creating [a character],” he says over the phone while packing up his apartment in New Orleans, ahead of his WWD shoot. “It’s all in, it’s for them, so my style is very relevant to the project rather than who I am. So right now I get to be me, and go to fashion week, and really be myself, and share who I am right now — which I’m still figuring out.”
Siriboe has a busy week ahead. He has a lead role in the Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay series “Queen Sugar,” which premiered Tuesday and the second episode of which airs Wednesday, as well as the role of the can’t-write-off bad guy in “Kicks,” a darling of the Tribeca Film Festival that hits theaters Friday. All while squeezing in as many fashion week appearances as he can manage — with, so far, Tom Ford and DKNY confirmed.
Siriboe, the son of Ghanaian parents, was born in Inglewood, Calif., and got his start in front of the camera alongside his two brothers. “Honestly I feel like it was really unintentional,” he says. “My mom walked around with her three African children, and people always approached her about us doing commercials — ‘You know, your kids are so cute,’ and finally she bit.”
Now 22, Siriboe’s breaks have come one after the other. First up is “Queen Sugar,” the first season of which was directed solely by women, under Winfrey and DuVernay’s watch. The series — which has already been renewed for a second season — follows three adult siblings (played by Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner and Siriboe) who reconnect as they attempt to take over their late father’s sugar cane farm. “I saw Ava posted a tweet about needing somebody to play the role of Ralph Angel — so I was, like, ‘OK, she’s desperate,’” he says.
Come Friday, he’ll be seen playing Flaco, a character against the grain of the “stereotypical thug” in the indie drama “Kicks,” the story of how far a teenager in the Bay Area will go to retrieve a beloved pair of Jordans. “I wasn’t that interested in Flaco in the beginning,” Siriboe admits. “I just kind of glanced over the script and was, like, ‘Oh god, another one of those movies.’ But after I really looked at it and sunk my teeth into it, it was an actual script with depth, and it was a story that is very relevant to the culture right now.”
Seeking out a bigger connection — through the occasional modeling, the “personal, intimate medium” of acting, and his love of Raf Simons and Givenchy — very much permeates his approach.
“When people say don’t judge a book by the cover,” he says, “I say read the book, ignore the cover — because sometimes the cover is absolutely misleading. If you get misled by that you might miss how magical something can be.”