Friday 20 September 2019

Chewing Gum star: I was told ‘you will never work’

Susan Wokoma has now been named as one of Bafta’s breakthrough Brits.

BAFTA Craft Awards 2017
BAFTA Craft Awards 2017

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

A star of the Bafta-winning comedy Chewing Gum has said she has spent most of her career being told “you will never work”.

Susan Wokoma, best known for her role as Cynthia in the E4 comedy starring Michaela Coel as a young woman desperate to lose her virginity, said people had constantly tried to talk her out of pursuing her ambitions.

The actress, who is named as one of Bafta’s 20 Breakthrough Brits of 2017, told the Press Association: “I do think I have spent most of my career being told ‘oh by the way, you will never work’ and ‘it’s really really hard, are you sure you want to do this?’

“At drama school we had a very brief talk about tax and I remember somebody saying ‘but don’t worry because you will probably never earn enough to pay tax’.”

The emerging stars of the film, television and gaming industry named on the list will be mentored by established professionals and Wokoma said: “It will be really helpful to speak to people who are established in the industry and hear about the other challenges that might lie ahead in terms of not just wanting to land the next job but in terms of creatively what you want to do next.”

She added it is still important to see diversity both on and off the screen, saying: “With acting there is not a whole lot of power to it, you getting a job is in the fate of other people and if the other people are a diverse group of people then they see beyond beauty or anything like that because in any job that is regarded, people notice it.

“If there is a more diverse group on the other side, that is when that sort of stuff starts mattering less and I mean diversity in all respects.

“Whenever I enter a project where it is largely women or a 50/50 split, that is when you read the script and go ‘oh my gosh there is no mention of how attractive anyone is’, because it’s not important, we are talking about the story, I think that is just a by-product.

“I have been lucky to experience that and so I’ve seen the utopia and it looks good.

“It is slowly changing, but one of the reasons why I started writing and wanted to collaborate with people because it has been slow and it is slow and people go ‘I’m not waiting’ and that is exciting.”

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