Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Sunday, 22 February 2009

Schoolboy hopes for Oscar success

Olutunji Ebun-Cole
Tunji's acting training has been at an after-school drama club

An 11-year-old from Kent has joined the Hollywood elite to find out if the film he starred in will be an Oscar winner.

Olutunji Ebun-Cole, who is known as Tunji, had the lead role in New Boy, which is nominated for the best live action short film award.

The film about an African schoolboy who starts school in Ireland was written by Roddy Doyle and Steph Green.

Tunji, who attends Fulston Manor school in Sittingbourne, said attending the Oscars ceremony was "unbelievable".

"I feel really excited and I feel its going to be a great experience," he said. "I'm a little bit nervous but I think that the excitement overpowers everything."

Tunji, who was born in London and whose family are from Sierra Leone and Zambia, plays Joseph, a nine-year-old African boy.

James Bond part

After witnessing the brutality of soldiers against his father in Africa, Joseph is relocated to safety in Ireland, but becomes the victim of the school bullies.

The year seven student's only formal acting training has been at an after-school drama club led by his teacher Danielle Baugh.

In 2006 he played the "cola kid" in the James Bond film Casino Royale after being spotted by an acting agent while he waited for his actress sister Kamiji at a casting session.

Tunji went on to appear in BBC TV shows The Teacher and Chins and on television advertisements.

New Boy was released in 2007 for the American insurance company Liberty Mutual's Responsibility Project website, and was Tunji's first lead role.

It has already won Best Irish Short at the Foyle Film Festival 2007, Best Short Film at the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards 2008 and a special mention at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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