He’s more than meets the eye.
Watching Michael Bay movies as a teen transformed this former Bronx scammer into a Navy SEAL, model/actor and minister.
“A light went off in my head … I could be someone or something other than what I believed I could be,” Remi Adeleke told Moneyish. And thanks to faith and hard work, Adeleke has come full circle to starring in Bay’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” opening June 21.
Adeleke lived in Nigeria until he was five, but immigrated to New York with his mom and brother after his father passed away in 1987.
“We went from having it all to not having much of anything,” said Adeleke, who tried filling the void left by his father’s death through stealing, selling drugs and running scams in the Bronx.
The one bright spot growing up was his monthly family trip to the movies, which showed him a better future was possible. Adeleke says it was Bay’s “Bad Boys,” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, that opened his eyes to the fact that he could be more than a thug. “They were everyday guys trying to go out and save people,” he said.
And “The Rock,” also directed by Bay, introduced him to the Navy SEALS. “That really planted the seed that later blossomed into what I became,” he said.
A deal gone wrong in 2001 was the wakeup call that then 19-year-old Adeleke needed. “I gave up that street life for six months, and then I joined the military,” he said.
Despite initially scoring low on the Navy’s vocational assessment tests – and not knowing how to swim – Adeleke worked his way up through boot camp, took those tests again, and qualified for SEAL training.
“When I want something, I will run through walls to get it,” he said.
His military background scored him a role as an extra in the 2014 TNT series “The Last Ship,” a post-apocalyptic drama aboard a Navy destroyer that was, coincidentally, produced by Bay.
Then the casting director contacted Adeleke in early 2016, after he’d wrapped his seven-year service with the SEALs, to lend his military expertise to the new “Transformers” flick. What began as a single day part was upgraded to a principal role, with Adeleke playing a military contractor who tracks down Transformers.
He’s also starring in Jockey’s “Show ‘Em What’s Underneath” campaign, which encourages customers to embrace their true selves. “We live in a time when so many people are afraid to show their true colors,” he said, noting his job is to, “show them perseverance. Show them hope. Show resilience.”
And the newly-minted movie star is still reeling from the paths his life has taken.
“My faith is a huge part of who I am,” he said. “I truly believe that God was directing my steps, and all of those things that happened in my life, whether good or bad, have led me to where I am today.”
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