Kofi Kingston has been a featured star in WWE since his debut in June of 2006. Kingston debuted in WWE as the high-flying Jamaican superstar Kofi Kingston. As part of the character, Kington wore Jamaican colors to the ring and spoke in a Jamaican accent. During an interview with the Reps Podcast, Kingston shared what it was like to consistently use the accent and how great he felt when he finally dropped it.
“I was so happy to be able to drop the accent,” Kingston admitted. “Initially Vince [McMahon] told me that all my interviews had to be in Jamaican. Any time I was on screen or being interviewed by anybody about anything it had to be in Jamaican. The WWE magazine would call up and it would just be a regular number and I would say ‘Oh hello?’ and they would say ‘Hi this is Megan from the magazine calling, is Kofi there?’ and I would say ‘Oh hold on’ and then answer in Jamaican.
“It was really annoying. The only other person that could identify with me was Santino [Marella]. He had to put on his Italian accent so we would have these conversations.”
Kingston also talked about an interview he had with the BBC during that time and how he had to try and stay in kayfabe to protect the gimmick. Kingston recalls the accent finally during a backstage interview segment with Triple H.
“Eventually I had an interview with someone at the BBC and they kept pressing me about the fact that Kofi is not a Jamaican name,” Kingston said. “They said, ‘Why are you playing this Jamaican character?’ and I’m just coming up with all these different answers.
“So finally I get off the phone and I’m sweating and I’m like it’s over. Then all of a sudden maybe an hour later my mom calls me up and says ‘Somebody from the BBC just called and they asked me about your Jamaican heritage and I told them you were from Ghana and this,’ and I was like ‘No! Mom, kayfabe, kayfabe!’ Eventually, I told Vince about it and he said not as many people are going to read that article as you think, and then in a year I ended up being able to drop it.”
“The promo where I had Triple H on my team and I tried to get everybody on the team on the same page and Triple H calls me out and says ‘Hey, aren’t you supposed to be Jamaican?’ And then I wasn’t Jamaican anymore.”
Kingston recalled how hard it was to continuously make sure to use the accent every time he spoke. He also felt that the character was holding him down from reaching greater heights as a performer.
“It’s hard enough to remember what you have to say, let alone how you have to say it,” Kingston said. “It was a sigh of relief to take that extra pressure off. You can get to a certain level in this industry playing a character but I feel like the people who are able to get to the top are those who are themselves with the volume just turned way up. As cool and happy go lucky as the Jamaican character was, it really wasn’t who I was so I was only able to get to a certain point. It was great to have that lid popped off so I could keep climbing the ladder.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Muscle and Fitness with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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