Akin Omotoso has directed a biopic telling the story of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family. The biopic, telling the true events of the Antetokounmpo family’s move from Nigeria to Greece, and then to the USA to follow their NBA dreams, will be released by Disney+ as an original film on June 24, 2022.
Giannis was born in Greece to Nigerian parents after they moved to Athens in attempt to make a better life for their family. Due to difficult citizenship laws, he was stateless for the first 18 years of his life and only received citizenship papers less than two months before he was drafted into the NBA as the 15th pick overall. His family joined him as he moved to the USA with four of the five Antetokounmpo brothers now playing professional basketball.
Akin Omotoso, known to many South Africans as Khaya Motene in the long-running soap opera Generations, has a plethora of film credits to his name as both an actor and director. He’s had roles in Blood Diamond, Lord of War, Queen of Katwe, and Catching Feelings, but the jewel in his crown of screen work has been his production and directorial roles.
Akin has directed films such as Man on Ground, Wole Soyinka: Child of the Forest, Tell Me Sweet Something, and the critically acclaimed Vaya. Ava Duvernay’s distribution company Array acquired Vaya for distribution and it was picked up by Netflix in 2018. In 2020 Disney announced that they were developing a film around the life story of the Antetokounmpo family and that Omotoso would be directing.
Disney+ launches in South Africa later this month and Rise will debut on June 24. Giannis, who is currently in the thick of the NBA postseason had a chance to watch an early cut of the movie with his family February and is particularly excited about the film. “”I am thrilled and honored that Disney+ is bringing my family’s story to people all over the world,” the two-time NBA MVP said. “My hope is that it will inspire those in similar circumstances to keep the faith, stay true to their goals and not to give up on striving for a better life.”
Check out the trailer for Rise below.