AN INTERVIEW WITH BLACK BRITAIN’S LEADING ACTRESS
By Shaun Ajamu Hutchinson
Saturday, March 13, 2010.
Britain’s rising star Lorraine Burroughs, recently appeared with Daniel Francis and Ashley Walters as Sharon in Bola Agbaje’s acclaimed play Off the Endz. The Birmingham-born actress has just been nominated for the prestigious Laurence Olivier Best Actress Award, for her outstanding performance as Camae - alongside David Harewood - in The Mountaintop. The RADA-trained actress even put off – for now anyway – her Hollywood and Broadway ambitions in order to take the part. She spoke recently to The New Black Magazine.
South Londoner Sharon in Off the Endz is very different from Tennessee born Camae in Katori Hall's The Mountaintop; what research and preparation did you do to give life to these very different characters?
I try to immerse myself fully in every part, of any play that I am doing. The closer you get to a part the more rewarding it is in pulling it off.
It’s harder in a way for me because I like creating characters. I loved creating Camae in The Mountaintop. The voice of a character is a major thing; so with this role it’s been harder to find a voice that isn’t just me. I have to find the character. I am originally from Birmingham and I have had a dialect coach coming in and tweaking a few little things. It has been a lot easier in that respect for this part because I can feel it closely; a lot of her [Sharon’s] feelings and choices are quite similar to mine. It’s a challenge to make her a character and not just do Lorraine…
The drama and tension between the three characters in Off The Endz is dramatic, raw and realistic; as an actress is it more enjoyable playing these types of parts.
It is nice to have conflicts. There is a section towards the end of the play where there is a reveal and she gets to just let rip. As an actor to be able to build and contain, and eventually to be able to explode and let it all hang out; it’s great to be able to do that on stage. A lot of the time in life we just hold it in; we are not allowed to let it out.
What about your varied TV, screen and stage career?
I love it all within theatre. I would never want to be playing one type of role in one type of play. I love versatility, new projects; I like a new challenge. I would never want to be playing one type of character.
Can you please tell us about your diverse roles?
I am mixed race and I do have a look that is versatile, and different. I can go up for lots of different things. Luckily it does come down to talent, and being right for that part.
I’ve just found out I’ve been nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress for The Mountaintop as well.
On Stateside ambitions?
I was supposed to go to Los Angeles but I chose this play. I’m going to go over at some point but I don’t intend to be based just in America. I love English theatre and English film. I want to have the opportunity to do both.
Off the Endz is written by Bola Agbaje.
Shaun Ajamu Hutchinson is The New Black Magazine's arts editor and a London-based freelance journalist.