Photo/Courtesy of Akhnaten Burrowes
Akhnaten Burrowes has always loved the stage, whether it’s singing or participating in plays. When he took this love to social media in 2015, his journey as a comedic actor began. He would go on to win the Social Media Personality of the Year and Actor of the Year Awards at the 2020 Gine on People's Choice Awards.
“Blinds, curtains, table runners,” were the three words that introduced locals in Barbados to Beverly and Eudora, the two personas created and portrayed by Akhnaten. In a viral video released almost seven years ago, Akhnaten brought these characters to life, showing viewers how Barbadians behave when the Christmas season is approaching. Burrowes immersed himself in the role and captured the true essence of Bajan culture.
The actor’s strong comedic character Beverly, also known as Bev, is loosely based on his next-door neighbor Beverly. She reminds Akhnaten of Malicious Pearly – a well-known tv personality from an old-time Bajan TV show who sat at her window drinking tea, while watching and gossiping about her neighbors. Together with her side-kick and best friend Eudora (Eu), the nosey pair act as the neighborhood surveillance.
To say that Akhnaten was in awe at how his portrayal of these two characters was received would be an understatement. “When I realized the video was going viral and I actually saw it going from 16 views and 30 likes to 23,000 views and over 1,600 shares, it was truly heartwarming to see people appreciate my craft,” he said.
Akhnaten’s skits have been steadily gaining momentum. He is reaching audiences locally and outside of Barbados through social media. Since the launch, the 23-year-old social media sensation has amassed over 21,000 loyal fans on Instagram from around the world including the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
With a growing fan base, the full-time creative is being pursued by different brands that are eager to exploit his growing potential. As an additional revenue stream and a way to deepen his relationship with his fans, Akhnaten also launched his own line of Bev branded merchandise including t-shirts and her signature protective style bonnets.
‘Bev’ the Sitcom
What’s next for this up-and-coming actor? Like an unstoppable train, Akhnaten is moving full speed ahead to bring his online skits to the masses. He is currently working with the local production company Boardhouse Productions to turn his Bev videos into a sitcom.
Burrowes hopes to give people around the world a taste of Bajan culture and Barbadians living abroad a moment to reminisce and relate to a time in their life when they lived in Barbados. “Whether it reminds them of their grandparents, aunts, or uncles, I want to give them a piece of Barbados wherever they are,” he said.
So, what can fans expect from the Bev sitcom? They can look forward to more Bajan folklore - from the rum shop to the neighborhood gossip, Bajan food, and lots of Bajan slang.
Youth Development in Barbados
Akhnaten Burrowes uses Bev to bring joy and laughter to others. However, as a young person full of dreams and goals, he is also using his platform to serve as a role model. A few years ago, he founded a nonprofit organization called Young and Progressive Barbados (YAP) to promote youth development in Barbados.
"This organization was created to help and teach the younger generation how to navigate the workforce,” he said. Burrowes understands the impact a good mentor can have on a young person’s life both professionally and personally. As someone who came from humble beginnings, he wanted to share with others the type of mentorship he has benefited from.
Through Young and Progressive Barbados, Burrowes helps young adults who have the desire to succeed, do so, by offering development programs as well as mentoring, and networking opportunities. The programs teach life skills and business development. “I just want to inspire the youth in any way I can to become their best self,” Burrowes told Unstoppable Yes You. If he can help the youth in Barbados get one step closer to achieving their goals and building generational wealth, for Akhnaten, that's a win.
When asked what advice he would give to aspiring content creators, influencers, and creatives, Akhnaten responded, "Be truthful, authentic and don't let anyone tell you that you're not great…be confident, be bold, and believe in your craft."
As for his future aspirations, Burrowes would like to one day work with the world-renowned actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director Tyler Perry. He credits his aunt Sandra for giving him that extra push to pursue his passion for acting.