Like many successful actors and actresses today, Freeform’s Siren’s Fola Evans-Akingbola didn’t grow up with plans to pursue a career in theatre. Instead, the London born-and-raised actress planned on attending university back home to earn a degree in philosophy. However, after a taking a gap year, Fola ended up in a place she could’ve only dreamed of – landing a lead role in a pilot nationwide television series.
Growing up in an equally academic and musical family, Fola was lucky enough to have parents supporting her every decision. “We [my sister and I] really had a choice and they’ve been very supportive of that,” Fola says.
At the time, she wasn’t sure whether or not to pursue art as a career. After her mom insisted she needed a hobby that isn’t about work, she started acting classes in 2014. For the past four years, she has been acting professionally both nationally and internationally. “I started acting classes bust still not wanting to do it for a job…one thing led to another and now we’re here,” she says.
Working in theatre quickly became a full-time gig for Fola. However, school and education were still priorities in her mind. “I did the National Youth Theatre and then I joined a drama school, which is like a part time school in the UK in the evenings,” she says. Shortly after, Fola was signed by her current agent and started landing bigger jobs throughout the UK.
After working in the industry, Fola landed a pilot spot on Freeform’s original series Siren. The series, which follows a group of marine biologists on their adventures in the town of Bristol Cove, premiered on Freeform in March 2018 and was recently renewed for a second season. Fola portrays Maddie Bishop, one of the show’s marine biologists.
“I really enjoyed working on a bigger thing. It was good because this was our first time being series regulars, so I think we all have supported each other,” Fola says. Along with her cast members, this was the first time she landed a role as a series regular. As opposed to your schedule being hectic and unpredictable, for once Fola was able to settle down with a constant filming schedule. “I probably shouldn’t have been an actress,” she chuckled. When not shooting a series like Siren, she often sat wondering what job was next. “It’s true what they say. If you book a holiday, you will get a job,” she jokes. Shortly after landing the job on Siren, Fola flew across the Atlantic to film for four straight months in Canada. The stamina of shooting day in and day out can be stressful on actresses, but Fola attributes her stamina in shooting long hours to the smaller roles she had been in at home. “I think that learning what it’s like to be on a set, learning that it’s so different like what we were just talking about, that it’s so different in the classroom, training is so important,” she says, “Nothing will prepare you for the madness of set and that fact that you could be wasting around in your trailer for three hours and then suddenly be filming.”
In Siren, Fola’s character Maddie Bishop is a marine biology student who has just taken a job at the marine mammal center with her boyfriend. “You meet her when she was just starting to take the reins of her life and become more independent. She’s really trying to define ourselves in routine and structure,” Fola says, “And then when the mermaid comes into their lives, this force of nature turns everything upside down. What was fun this season is really getting to see how Maddie deals with all of that.” In the second season, Maddie’s dad will be introduced. As sheriff of the town, her family dynamics get tested as the temperatures rise and tensions are built.
Beyond Siren, Fola has been working back home in the UK on smaller projects, with a film coming out “I’ve got a UK film coming out in summer. It’s being released by Attitude Films, who released Moonlight in the UK. When I go home to London I think I’ll be shooting a film called Being Dead,” she shares. As Fola gears up to head home for a bit in between shooting, she notes how living in Vancouver has offered her a second home and she’s excited to go back and continue working on a project she believes in. “I love London as a city, but it’s nice to be around nature,” she admits.