Entertainment

Viral Nigerian Ballet Dancer Anthony Madu Shares His Resilient Story in ‘Madu’


Following his diagnosis, he goes home for Easter break so he can “come back with renewed energy,” his teachers tell him.

Yet in Lagos, he faces additional hurdles. In an emotional moment with his parents, Anthony tells them he feels overwhelmed and needs to see a therapist. His parents, not understanding his requests, encourage him to see a prophet and find comfort in religion instead. Anthony breaks down in tears, overwhelmed by his emotions.

Anthony tells TODAY.com that he learned about the benefits of therapy and mental health while in the U.K. He says in Nigeria mental health “isn’t really focused on.”

There’s also the physical and emotional distance between him and his younger brother. Madu matriarch Ifeoma Madu tells Anthony in the film that he and his little brother need to “make peace” and spend time together before he returns to school. There’s an awkwardness between the two siblings, who now appear to have nothing in common.

When it’s time to return to school, his mother tells him to take care of himself. His whole community is rooting for him.

When asked about the pressure he puts on himself, the now-14-year-old tells TODAY.com, “I feel like I kind of did that in the past. But now, I don’t think I have that much pressure on myself at the moment.”

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Madu says he felt like he had to be “really good for other people.”

“But then I realized that’s wrong. I should be wanting to be good for myself and not for other people,” he says. “Of course you want to get better at things, but you don’t need to do it just because other people want you to do it.”

When making the documentary, Benson says, “What shone through was (Anthony’s) courage, his determination to want to pursue his dream.”

He adds that Anthony’s “biggest gift is his strength.”

“Remember, this is a kid who has been bullied and teased all of his life. He could have easily given up and said, ‘You know what, I’m going to play (soccer) with the boys. I’m going to do whatever everyone else wants me to do,’” Benson says. “But he chose to stick to this thing that he loved.”

Despite feeling that his eye may “end” his career, Madu wants viewers to be inspired by his story.

“What I want people to take away is that no matter what they want to do in life, they shouldn’t let any negative comments and stuff get in the way,” he wholeheartedly says. “Because at the end of the day it’s their choice, it’s what they want to do, and they should just really go for it. Never give up.”

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