Actor, writer, musician, producer and DJ, Akemnji Ndifornyen, creates an exclusive mix for Notion and speaks about balance, what drives him, getting used to Zoom, and much more.

Whether you know him from his acting role as Mr Fergusson in The Queen’s Gambit or writing, producing and composing the BAFTA-winning TV show, Famalam, scriptwriting 2020’s MOBO Awards, or creating the viral song “Drillogram”, Akemnji Ndifornyen gives meaning to the term ‘multi-hyphenate’.


For a man of many talents, it may come as no surprise that Akemnji is also a whiz on the decks. As a DJ and producer, he’s built a name for himself by spinning everything from 90s soul and hip-hop, through to grime and garage.


Notion spoke with Akemnji about his plethora of projects, managing pressure, who he’d like to be stuck in a lift with, and much more. He’s also created an exclusive mix, which is sure to get you in the party mood, no matter what day of the week. Jump in!

You’re an actor, writer, producer, musician and DJ. With so many creative pursuits, how do you balance it all?

Balance – what’s that?! Haha! It’s mad doing it all but I have good people who work with me to make everything work! And I’m lucky enough to spend a few months out of each year on each thing, so there’ll be a time when I’ll be in a room doing script work and then I’ll be in my studio writing lyrics or making a beat. Or I’ll be filming a TV show. It’s nuts, but it’s beautiful.

Is there one that feels most natural to you? Did you have to push yourself to learn one skill or were you drawn very easily to all of them?

That’s a tough one because they’re all an extension of me in some way. I’ve been acting since I was 10 and I had a big mouth and lots of energy so performing was a no-brainer. But then I love music, so writing a song like “Drillogram” is fun because it allows me to say something funny while still delivering a catchy hook.

What do you think drives you?

I remember something Ras Kass said in an interview once and it really resonated with me. He said rapped so that when he met his idols they could tell him he was dope. So he rapped so that KRS One could tell him he was dope, or Rakim could tell him he was dope. And it’s a similar thing for me – when people you rate tell you they like your stuff it’s a sick feeling. But on a simple level, I just like building and creating things. I bought some Lego the other day just so I could build something. 

The past year has been a tough one to say the least. How have these times changed your music, writing, your approach to the creative process or as an individual as a whole?

The last year has meant getting used to Zoom!!! I’ve written a whole TV show with someone I haven’t met in real life before and that’s insane. Being indoors has increased my focus quite a bit too, but a lot of time has been spent washing dishes! 

Since winning a BAFTA in 2019 for your BBC series ‘Famalam’, have you felt a pressure to match that success?

There’s definitely pressure, but only to make stuff I’m proud of. 

What was it like filming Netflix’s smash hit show ‘The Queen’s Gambit’? What did you love about the role of Mr Fergusson in particular?

Working on The Queen’s Gambit was a dream. I was back and forth to Berlin for about 6 weeks filming and I was working on FAMALAM Series 3 during that time also. Scott Frank is an amazing visionary and he knew exactly what he wanted. It helped that I got to work with Moses Ingram (Jolene) and Anya Taylor Joy (Beth) and Isla – who plays the Younger Beth. 

If you had to be stuck in a lift with anyone – who would it be?

Stuck in a lift with one person? Hmmm. That could change on a daily basis… I’d say Dr. Dre, so I can ask him all the nerdy music questions I’ve always wanted answers to.

What do you want your legacy to be?

The older we all get, that word becomes so important! I just want to know I did my parents proud and that I fulfilled my potential, I guess. 

You’ve made an exclusive mix for Notion. Talk us through it – why did you choose these songs and vibe for the mix?

My mix is just me mucking around with songs that aren’t really supposed to go together and finding a way for them to mesh! I started off with an Ultimate Kaos song and went into Shyne and Barrington Levy’s “Bad Boys” and that’s the general tone of it. I just flowed and didn’t stop. It’s an oddball collection of 90s and 00s hits and b-sides and is stuff I’d just play round the house. Hearing MF Doom blending into Chaka Demus and Pliers is a bit mad though!