Posted on October 12 2020
University is a lifetime away now but there are a few people whom I consider most impressively unforgettable no matter how much time passes and Adele is one of those people. As well as brains and beauty, I also remember Adele's kindness and warmth. When we held fashion shows for Raise and Give and the charities supported by the Afro-Caribbean society, Adele would be on stage. She was talented then, and she is still very much so now.
You can imagine my excitement when I started seeing her taking on a lot of work in the industry and doing incredibly well! As well as the critically acclaimed film No Shade, her other credits include TV shows like "Years and Years" out now on BBC and movies like "Housefull 3". But just how did she get here? Here's our interview:
You have a strong degree in Economics from the University of Southampton. How did you first develop an interest in acting?
The number of times people ask me this question… The irony is I’d rephrase the question as, "When did you develop an interest in Economics?!" Simply because I've always loved acting. Ever since I was about 4 years old and I saw Gene Kelly in "Singing' in the rain", I always knew what I wanted was to be a performer. I'm just grateful to God He allows me to pursue it now.
And so you got the training and just went for it!
What advice do you have for individuals interested in doing the same?
It may look easy and glamorous. It's not.
If you're not sure you really want to do this for the sake of the craft…don’t! But if you are going to do this, find your centre and balance in something that isn't tied to the industry. The highs and lows of this career are unlike anything else. It's dangerous.
So how do you find that balance? What’s your centre?
For me, my centre is God. It means I know my being defined as a success or failure in life isn't tied to my career.
Did you always know this?
It took me a while to get to this point myself so I fully understand if you read this and think I'm crazy for saying it. Ultimately, you must protect your love of acting and the best way is to not let it define your whole life.
That is a common misconception isn’t it? To think that what we do in our jobs, our careers is who we are.
Yes, and it’s not! That is why it is important to find that true centre.
Let's talk about your most recent project: No Shade. Congratulations again! How amazing was that?!
Oh my gosh, thank you!
"No Shade" was an incredible experience. Firstly I got the role two weeks before filming because Clare (the director) actually asked me to audition to understudy for the part. It was God's will that stepped me up into the film.
It was a mad period but it really taught me a lot of what I'm capable of. Also, I was blessed with a team from director to runner who all believed in my artistic integrity and were able to read what I needed instinctively. That whole cast and crew are my family for life now. And to have it on Amazon Prime video in the UK and USA is like a dream come true!
That’s incredible. You were brilliant in it and I have been telling anyone who will listen to just watch it and they will know which character you play!
(We both laugh)
No, you are incredibly talented!
You mentioned earlier, the highs and lows of a career in acting. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your work and how did you overcome them?
I'd say across the board it's still the concept of eschewing the stereotypes with the roles one gets given to audition for by the industry. It's hard to sell black stories that aren't set in an estate or in a jail. That’s why "No Shade" to me is so pivotal. It’s Black- British and a story about a human condition. We don't get that very often on this side of the pond. Usually it has to be a Spike Lee joint to have a chance to be a "She's gotta have it" or a "Love Jones". As much as it’s technically not been my challenge to sell the film to an audience, I'd say this was probably the biggest challenge of the film.
Acting-wise, I sought out the help of my "network" as such…I hate that word!
…to help me rehearse and scene prep and just…believe in myself. There is nothing like women supporting each other to win and God has blessed me with a number of actresses, of all races including black, who will make the time to help me run lines, self-tape, motivate me, pray for me and I do the same too. I'm very fortunate and blessed.
That is wonderful, to have such a strong family, and to support each other. But surely you still need to be incredibly organised! What organisational tools do you swear by?
I don't know about that but my phone calendar is without a doubt my biggest necessity. It’s why I can't switch to Apple!
(We both laugh)
Android has it as this widget I can quickly look at and I look at it and change it endlessly throughout the day!
I think, above organisation, the more important thing is the mind-set that my day won't usually end looking like how it started! The only constant in my life is change, and I'm more than OK with that.
That’s incredible, you obviously work at keeping that mind-set. Where do you go for daily inspiration or creative inspiration when you are working?
My Bible. IMDbPro. Deadline Hollywood. Acting Class. I train weekly because, like every other athlete, the ability to be creative and to hit and resonate emotions, is like a muscle. As apprentices of life, we must warm up, cool down and test boundaries. I give myself license to fail in those spaces and it means I open myself up to learning. Aside from that, the world in itself is so beautiful. You see a million stories pass you by on the street, the bus, and the tube. You just have to be looking.
You did quite a lot of fundraising events for charity whilst at University, are you working with any charities at the moment?
These days I have more of an understanding of what charities I want to work with and they would be with Homeless people as well as opening the arts up more for those who don't have the opportunity to afford it. I have been fortunate with my side hustles allowing me flexibility and inspiration. I didn't go to drama school but the fees to apply and attend are extortionate! Not to talk of living when you're in school. I also want to work with charities that will help cover application fees and legal fees for visas and for families and individuals who are seeking a better life. Being an immigrant - turned - citizen myself, I know how this journey can hinder your desire to actually contribute to the world because you're not allowed to work or live the way you'd like to.
Turning to beauty and fashion, you are in the public eye and have done a few red carpet events now. What's the beauty product you can't live without and why?
My Fenty mattemoiselle lipstick collection It’s so good! The pigment means I can use it for not just lips but blusher, as eye shadow and anywhere I want to add colour. It gets me turnt up for real!
(We both laugh)
You have a unique sense of style. Do you follow fashion trends or go with your own style? And why?
Half the accounts I follow on Insta are fashion designers and stylists. I like to have ideas but ultimately I go my own way. It's important to have some concept of what is going on, what you'd love to wear and slay in. Just so you know. To be honest I'm that person who wakes up and knows exactly what I want to wear that day, be it in existence or not.
I can't wait to start making my own clothes and more. I'm definitely mad into silhouettes.
Oh that is very exciting! Which brings me to SS19 Collection what are your thoughts?
The pieces definitely exude the season! The playing around with stereotypical patterns and colours like the brown asymmetrical skirt is really interesting. I'd probably pair the kimono and seamless dress with heels for an afternoon about town or a daytime event.
I love it! You are giving me outfit combinations I have not thought of myself!
(We both laugh)
It looks like we have got to the end of our interview…so what’s next?
Well, I've just had my episode of BBC's "Years and Years" come out so that was exciting as it was my BBC debut!
And you were incredible in that too!
Thanks! It’s also going to be on HBO and CanalPlus so very grateful for the exposure.
I have another show coming out later in the year on Netflix which I was shooting earlier this year but can't say more than that just yet. Then I have some scripts I'm reading and constantly training. God is in charge so… Watch this space!
And we will!
Interview by Arikana for MYSTYLIST LONDON follow Arikana @labbooksandstylefiles