Anthony Madu

A viral video turned Anthony Madu’s life into a Disney film. Literally. Now living in Birmingham, we caught up with the talented dancer on the release of MADU, the film of his exceptional journey

The last few years of Anthony Madu’s life read like a fairytale. It started with a video of him dancing in the rain barefoot in Lagos which became a worldwide sensation that led to a scholarship at Elmhurst Ballet School.

Anthony didn’t think the video would have an impact and never contemplated millions of people all over the world watching it. He says: “I genuinely didn’t expect any response at all. It didn’t really seem like much of a big deal at the time. My old dance school used to post a video of the week on Instagram, and this was one of those.”

A few months after the video blew up in 2020, one of the directors from Disney visited Anthony’s school in Nigeria. Anthony recalls: “We had a chat and he watched my ballet class, and then a week later they started filming! It felt exciting, but also a bit weird, because of having cameras around me all the time. But the longer it went on, the more I got used to it.”


The cameras followed Anthony for 15 months. They filmed him at home in Nigeria for the first few months then at Elmhurst where the crew would film for a week at a time, followed by a two-week break and back again. It sounds intense, but it was a fun time for Anthony.

He says: “They were a great team, and just having different people around me all the time like the camera guy and the directors and the producers was fun. Even the things that were quite difficult were good because the team made it fun.”

Anthony has seen the film three times – he saw the first edit last year which he found a ‘bit cringe’ as he didn’t like seeing himself on screen. The second time he watched it with close friends who naturally kept asking questions throughout the film, but during the third viewing he really tried to focus and take it all in.

He remembers: “When I watched it that time, I remembered when we filmed the scenes. There’s a scene at the airport in Nigeria and it was really sad leaving my parents and my siblings and I remembered how I felt and I actually cried when I watched it.” He adds: “Filming that scene wasn’t a set-up. I was actually filmed going to the airport, saying goodbye to my family. Then one of the two directors, Kachi Benson, got on the plane with me. He had a little camera and he was filming different parts of the journey to Birmingham.”


Edgbaston is a far cry from Anthony’s life in Nigeria but he’s relishing the opportunity. He explains: “The transition at the start was quite hard because of missing home and the different culture. But I had to really think of the bright side – I’m at a ballet school. It’s pretty much what I’ve always wanted to do. I had to just get on with it and not think about all the hard stuff and just keep pushing.” He adds: “I love the way dance makes me feel when I’m doing it. Sometimes it’s quite hard, but then when you ‘get it’, it’s amazing.”

Anthony goes back to Nigeria each summer and his family are so excited to see him. He says: “I always get jumped on and they’re all there just waiting to give me a massive hug. To see the excitement on their faces that I’m back, it’s just amazing. It makes me feel really happy.”

When in Edgbaston, Anthony says he doesn’t like a chaotic life, so he chooses to have a small circle of close friends who he enjoys going to Cannon Hill Park with or shopping in Selly Oak when they have down time. He enjoys the school trips too, such as to the Malvern Hills, the Black Country Living Museum and of course trips to see Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Hippodrome – a stage we might be lucky enough to see him perform on in a few years.

Anthony says: “I just want to be the best I can be. I want to perform. I think that if I do get into a ballet company, I’d like to perform in The Nutcracker. I really enjoyed it when I watched Birmingham Royal Ballet do it.” Since Anthony has spent so much time around a film crew, he’s also open to the idea of acting and if that happens, he’d like to be an Avenger! For now, his hero is his mum, “I’ve only got one hero and that’s my mum. I really want to say thank you to her for how she’s always been there for me since I started dancing.”

WHERE TO WATCH: MADU is available on Disney+ from Friday 29 March