The Financial Woes of Barkhad Abdi Proves An Oscar Nomination Doesn't Mean Riches

The lifestyles of the rich and famous were on display for all to see on Sunday night; golden statuettes were handed out, thousand-dollar tuxes were worn and after parties were attended. Barkhad Abdi, a relative newcomer to this lifestyle, enjoyed all of that – apart from the statuette bit – but that doesn’t mean he’s living the movie-star lifestyle.

Captain PhillipsBarkhad Abdi Lays Down The Law in Captain Philips, Opposite Tom Hanks

It’s hard to escape the cynicism that surrounds Hollywood’s love for Abdi. The huge standing ovation he received for his Bafta award did seem a touch forced, especially considering he wasn’t that good in Captain Phillips. Then again, escaping war-torn Somalia, immigrating to the U.S via Yemen, becoming an actor, starring in a Hollywood blockbuster and winning an award for it is the stuff of movies, and his newfound peers are probably just relishing in the rarity of his remarkable story.

More: From 'Gravity' to Barkhad Abdi - Where The Baftas 2014 Got it Wrong

It’s a story that has gained him respect and love, be it fake, forced or both, but it hasn’t – as of yet – granted Abdi the financial security a job as a Hollywood actor ostensibly does. Right after Captain Phillips wrapped up, Abdi was selling mobile phones to make ends meet. Two years ago he was paid $65,000 for his supporting role opposite Tom Hanks. On the day of the film’s premiere, he quit that job. "How I thought about it was like, 'When the movie came out reviews either gonna be good or bad. Either way, I cannot be working here,'" he told the New Yorker.

Next for Abdi is a move to L.A as he’s in talks to star in a film about South African runner Willi Mtolo – who completed the 1992 New York Marathon. People will question the ethics behind paying a newcomer actor $65,000 for a film that has grossed over $200m from a $55m budget; then again, starring in a film and getting paid $65k is an unattainable dream for many.

See Abdi in action in the Captain Phillips trailer


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