“I was really thrown into the deep end and just had to start swimming,” says Farba Dieng describing his acting debut in Florian Dietrich’s buddy comedy TOUBAB. In fact, Dieng hadn’t had any aspirations to become an actor until fate struck one day and a friend of a friend told him about an open casting call for a film.
“I thought why not have a try, I’ve got nothing to lose,” he recalls. “Flo had already seen around 200 people for the part of Babtou before I came to the audition, but he liked the way I spoke the dialogues and my style.” Moreover, there was an immediate chemistry between Dieng and fellow lead actor Julius Nitschkoff who was subsequently cast as his buddy Dennis. “It was like a Tinder super-match, we bonded straightaway!,” Dieng explains. “Julius taught me so much like that you don’t have to learn the whole script off by heart. The important thing is for you to read and understand the script because you’ll then be much better at understanding what the role is all about.”
“I haven’t have had any formal training on how to convey the emotions of a character and so I do it by drawing from own experiences,” he admits. “If I have to portray something sad, then I think of some sad thing in my life and it’s often music that helps me to get into a particular mood.”
Dieng points out that he is “keen to learn as much as possible, but I’m becoming more and more confident with each new role I take on.” In fact, it didn’t take long after the shooting of TOUBAB wrapped before the film’s casting director Nina Haun had recommended to the Berlin-based agent Patric Adam that he take Dieng into his ensemble of actors and the next roles started coming his way.
He has since appeared in series for television such as Netflix’s SKYLINES and Amazon Prime’s PASTEWKA as well as ZDFneo’s BREAKING EVEN and ARD’s THE NET. And his feature film credits to date have included Alain Gsponer’s drama WOLKE UNTERM DACH, Katja von Garnier’s dance and music film FLY and Carsten Unger’s genre mix between romantic comedy and horror film KARIGULA – MONSTER DER LIEBE.
“When I’m choosing which roles to accept, the most important thing initially for me is the script,” Dieng explains. “And the role also shouldn’t be any kind of stereotype like say a drug dealer. I’m always keeping a close eye on wanting to play different kinds of roles so that I can find out what I am best suited to.” In fact, he has already had a chance to play quite a wide range of characters, including a banker in WOLKE UNTERM DACH, a footballer whose career is in jeopardy due to injury in THE NET to a police detective in KARIGULA and an American GI in the RTL+ series DISKO BOCHUM set in the West Germany of the 1970s.
Preparing for a role can lead him to find inspiration in seemingly unexpected quarters: for example, his portrayal of the football player Emmanuel Kanu in THE NET was based on a mixture of the Brazilian star Kaká and the Anime character Kojiro Hyuga.
While he is open to working in any kind of genre, Dieng suggests that he would “like to play someone who is far away from me personally and is mentally unstable as that would give me a real challenge. And I’d also like the chance to be in a real love story. At the same time, if there was a role in something like VIKINGS or GAME OF THRONES, I’d be there straightaway!” In addition, there is a good chance that the 28-year-old – who was born in Lille before moving with his family to Darmstadt – could be cast in French-language productions in the future. “As someone who is self taught and new to this business, I am continuing to learn so much,” he continues. “But it’s still been quite surreal to see how people have reacted to TOUBAB and my performance.”
The flurry of nominations and awards began in 2020 with him and Nitschkoff being nominated for First Steps’ Götz George Newcomer Prize and was followed the following year with the two receiving the Bavarian Film Award in the Best Newcomer Actor category and sharing the Best Actor Award at the Filmkunstfest MV in Schwerin. 2022 saw Dieng being nominated by members of the German Film Academy for the Best Leading Male Actor category of the German Film Awards along with Franz Rogowski and Albrecht Schuch. And Dieng and Nitschkoff were then named Best Duo at the German Screen Actors’ Awards this September for their performances in TOUBAB.