"Actor. Producer. Activist." Gbenga Akinnagbe is modest, both in real life and in his Instagram bio, about his latest creative endeavor: antique furniture design.
It is, indeed, an unlikely second act for the guy best known as the ruthless, drug-dealing Chris Partlow in HBO's "The Wire." But art and life intersect in interesting places — from the Brooklyn basement where Akinnagbe picked up his first piece of furniture, to the antique shops of Oklahoma, where he recently spent time filming, to the historic Andrew Freedman complex in the Bronx, where his collection of reimagined settees, wing-backs and mid-century dining chairs known as are currently on display.
"People are surprised, and that's cool with me," Akinnagbe says, sitting on his newest creation, a purple wax cloth-covered double-back settee named "Nothing Compares 2 U," in honor of Prince. "Enitan and the pieces I'm designing represent my experimentation into a different sort of creativity. I write, I produce, and this is another paint brush to create."
With any new trade, there's a learning curve, Akinnagbe acknowledges. In his case, it involved learning textile terminology and honing in on his own unique point of view.
Then came the sourcing.
"I've spent hours upon hours going from town to town, small towns in the middle of nowhere, talking to people who may or may not be used to talking to people who look like me about how beautiful these pieces are, where they came from and how they came into their possessions," he says, adding how much of his scouting strategy is predicated on his shooting schedule. "I've been in Oklahoma for the past three months, for example, and I can tell you about a whole bunch of [antiquing] towns, from Collinsville to Skiatook to Jenks."
The thrill of the hunt is easily Akinnagbe's favorite part of running Enitan. "I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story aspect of it," he says. "I love designing these pieces, but I also love going out and talking to people and discovering the stories behind them."
Yet still, the passion he exudes in describing mashups like the Mexican-meets-Nigerian "" accent chair (shown above) or his African-inspired take on a Victorian spoon back is undeniable. While he says he had no intention of turning that passion into a business, Akinnagbe jokes that his accountant has advised him otherwise.
Take a look at more pieces from his collection at .