Caribbean Camera: Hero waits for the bus to arrive

Nickolai Salcedo readies to climb aboard the world stage for his role in the new Trini-Canadian flick

By Stephen Weir

It is not just actor Nickolai Salcedo who is waiting for a bus to arrive.  It is the whole cast and crew of the new Canadian / Trinidadian movie, Hero, that are anxiously wondering when and where their soon-to-be previewed film is going to take them.
Salcedo plays Ulric Cross, the famed Trinidadian World War II airman. The Hero is a full-length docudrama that tells the story of the life and times of Cross. He was squadron leader for the Brits and went on after the War to become a jurist and diplomat. His life spanned key events of the 20th Century when independent African and Caribbean nations came of age. 
It is all going to happen quickly.  Next week, at the September 5th gala kick-off of Toronto’s Caribbean Tales Film Festival, Hero will be shown for the very first time. 
Salcedo in Bloor St West coffee shop
 “I am ready to go where-ever Hero takes us, my bags are packed,” Salcedo told the Caribbean Camera.  “We have the preview here in Canada at the Royal Cinema, and then we are off to Port of Spain for the opening of the Trinidad Film Festival on September 18th. We will have a couple of showings in Trinidad after that.”
“ You know what Hero has taught me? It pays to cut your hair sometimes, even though losing the locks is an Existentialist experience!” he continued.  “It was 2013 and I was busy busy on stage as an actor and in bars and at festivals as a musician.  It was suggested that I audition for two films that Francis-Ann Solomon (director of Hero and head of the Toronto Caribbean Tales Festival)  was already putting together.  I auditioned for one but didn’t bother with Hero because of my hair – Dreadlocks and a World War 2 role don’t mix.”
“I cut them off in 2014 and I got the call – why don’t you come in for an audition,” Salcedo explained at an interview in a Bloor Street West coffee shop earlier this week.  “One audition lead to two more – including one in front of an audience – and then I got the call from Francis. Next thing I knew we were off to England and Ghana to begin filming Hero.”
This is not the first celluloid rodeo for the 37 year old.  He has had roles in four Trinidadian movies including two award winning 2017 films Moving Parts and Moko Jumbie.  However, Caribbean films typically do not pay well, so this is his first “bigger budget” international feature. 
Scene from Hero - Lancaster bomber

In addition to filming in England, Africa and Trinidad, much of the technical work has and is being done in Toronto.  Only days before the first screening he is still involved with the final production edits of Heroes. In fact when the Camera interview ended Salcedo left to meet up with his director to continue their work.
Although Hero has been all consuming he has not given up his other artistic lifetime pursuits – theatre, painting and music.  The former visual art teacher took up playing the guitar to reach his students. Soon he was playing in a band he named Gyazette, after the Trinidad daily newspaper.  Since 2007 Gyazette has been performing a blend of reggae, calypso, funk and rock throughout the Caribbean.
He and his wife of two-weeks, singer Dahlia Fernandez,  have been staying in Mississauga while the film is in post production. He still has strong ties to Gyazette and plans to perform in Trinidad after the premier of Hero. He also has two Trinidadian bandmates here in Canada – Sheldon Holder and Dason Johnson who have regular gigs throughout the GTA. 
Hero was shot in Trinidad, UL and Africa

He and his new wife are also talking about performing together soon. Known simply as DAHLIA, the winner of the “Best Singer-Songwriter" at the Toronto Independent Music Awards has just released Shift, an alternative-indie-pop EP.  

And will they tour Trinidad? “ Why not? My wife is from India but she is probably more Trini than I am, “ laughs Nickolai Salcedo.  “ And in many ways I am more Indian than she!”


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