phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
A natural-born performer: Susan Wokoma interview
Image Credit: Marc Brenner

A natural-born performer: Susan Wokoma interview

20 September 2017 Will Rathbone

Susan Wokoma is a Southwark-born actor and writer who rose to prominence as Raquel in the cult television show Crazyhead. Since then, Wokoma has appeared in the New York transfers of Henry IV and Julius Caesar, part of Phyllida Lloyd’s acclaimed all-female Shakespeare trilogy, and is set to make her West End debut in playwright James Graham’s latest production, Labour of Love, starring opposite Martin Freeman and Tamsin Grieg. We caught up with Susan to chat about her career to date.

London Calling: Hi Susan! Thank you very much for speaking to us. Please could you start off by telling us a little bit about Labour of Love and your role in it?
 
Susan Wokoma: Labour of Love is a new comedy by James Graham that looks at the ever-changing identity of the Labour Party, and the effect it has on the Labour MP of an East Midlands town (Martin Freeman) and his constituency agent (Tamsin Greig). The play spans 27 years, and I play Margot Midler: a local constituent who eventually becomes Deputy Council Leader. Margot is the antithesis of Westminster point-scoring politics and is passionate about her community. She's also really funny!


Susan Wokoma. Image Credit: Nicole Engelmann
 
LC: How have rehearsals been? What’s Jeremy Herrin like as a director?
 
SW: To be honest, so far rehearsals have mainly consisted of laughing at how funny everyone is! I'm learning a heck of a lot too, and it's a deeply safe, fun space. Jeremy is the perfect cocktail – he mixes very precise notes with a playful rehearsal room. When you're relaxed, you let your guard down and become more instinctive. I’m very happy with Jeremy steering this ship, I've got to say.
 
LC: Are you involved in any other projects at the moment?
 
SW: Yes! I'm in a new comedy on Dave called Porters, which focuses on three London hospital porters played by myself, Edward Easton and legit Hollywood royalty: Rutger Hauer. It's very funny and very, very dark.


Susan Wokoma. Image Credit: Marc Brenner
 
LC: Can you tell us a bit about your background? What first drew you to performing?
 
SW: Friends and teachers always told me that I was a good storyteller, and that I was funny. At thirteen, I was encouraged to apply for the National Youth Theatre and it totally changed my life. It was there that I learnt what drama school was, and what acting meant as a career. I got my first agent there, and my first theatre job, so it was definitely the place where I learnt the nuts and bolts of the industry. From there, I applied to RADA at 19 and got in. My older sister is a musical theatre actress, so music was particularly present in our home, but otherwise performing is a bit of a Wokoma anomaly.
 
LC: Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
 
SW: In regards to acting, Viola Davis is my ultimate role model – even though I only really discovered her when she appeared in Doubt. Prior to her, there were many actors I deeply admired but none of them looked or sounded like me.
 
My teachers were probably my first big inspirations. I've been truly blessed, because so many brilliant teachers and mentors have found their way into my life and encouraged me. A lady called Maria Leaf used to teach me drama on a Saturday morning term time – and she's now one of my best friends.


Susan Wokoma. Image Credit: Nicole Engelmann
 
LC: What’s on your cultural radar right now?
 
SW: I must urge absolutely everyone to watch Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic. It's one of the most beautiful theatre shows I've ever seen. I cried about five times! You can always rely on Bob Dylan to move you.
 
Susan Wokoma stars in Labour of Love at the Noël Coward Theatre from 27 September till 2 December. Tickets from £10.
 
London Calling also spoke to Martin Freeman about Labour of Love – you can read the interview here.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

This week: 23 – 29 July

This week: 23 – 29 July

Summer is getting to that stage where, if you are not on holidays yet, things can start to drag... We can't offer sandy beaches but…

A Disturbingly Provocative Play

A Disturbingly Provocative Play

‘We can both pretend - that it’s all pretend’ says Kristina (played by Thalissa Teixeira) after she witnesses an act of complete betrayal between her fiancé and…

Telling Chinatown’s Stories

Telling Chinatown’s Stories

There is more to be found in Chinatown than food! Of course every Londoner has ended up somewhere around Gerrard Street at some point after…

AIM to Win 5 Tickets to Psychopath’s Den Immersive Escape Room Experience!

Aim Escape - AIM to Win 5 Tickets to Psychopath’s Den Immersive Escape Room Experience!

You know the instant the door slams shut behind you – bad things happen here.

Win a pair tickets to Blood Wedding

Omnibus Theatre - Win a pair tickets to Blood Wedding

This contemporary adaptation of celebrated Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca’s tragedy is set in modern day London.

This week: 13 – 19 August

This week: 13 – 19 August

Could this glorious summer be heading towards its last couple of weeks? Let's make the most of the ice cream, festivals and endless summer night…

Having a good time, Old Sport?

Having a good time, Old Sport?

‘The Great Gatsby’ is on countless people’s “favourite book of all time” list, and even for those who haven’t actually read it, the title alone immediately awakens…

Carmen La Cubana

Carmen La Cubana

George Bizet’s opera Carmen is one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the world with songs like the "Habanera" and the "Toreador Song"…

“My first ever job is in a play that I love!”

“My first ever job is in a play that I love!”

For 23-year-old Chris, life accelerated to whirlwind speed when he had to finish his studies at the most prestigious drama school in the land early,…

Most popular

Win a tree house space for up to 10 people at Beautiful Allotment and two bottles of bubbly courtesy of The Geffrye Museum

Beautiful Allotment & Geffrye Museum - Win a tree house space for up to 10 people at Beautiful Allotment and two bottles of bubbly courtesy of The Geffrye Museum

No plans yet for Bank Holiday Sunday 26 August? How about your very own pocket of serene English countryside in the city!
AIM to Win 5 Tickets to Psychopath’s Den Immersive Escape Room Experience!

Aim Escape - AIM to Win 5 Tickets to Psychopath’s Den Immersive Escape Room Experience!

Can you escape a dreadful fate, or will you become another blood stained, or blood drained, statistic?
Win a pair of tickets for ‘Lucky: Songs By Kylie’

Crazy Coqs/Live at Zedel - Win a pair of tickets for ‘Lucky: Songs By Kylie’

Award-winning cabaret sensation Michael Griffiths will spin you around with his tribute to Kylie Minogue!
Win tickets to Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire!

National Gallery - Win tickets to Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire!

Enter for the chance to win a pair of tickets to the National Gallery's Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire Exhibition.
This week: 30 July – 5 August

This week: 30 July – 5 August

Stuck in the city this summer? Lucky you!
Win a pair tickets to Blood Wedding

Omnibus Theatre - Win a pair tickets to Blood Wedding

This contemporary adaptation of celebrated Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca’s tragedy is set in modern day London.
Sounds and Sorcery

Sounds and Sorcery

The Vaults are host to an inventive and imaginative conception of Disney’s cult film ‘Fantasia’, interpreted as an immersive environment of installations and performance.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!