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“What I really love about the theatre is the experience you have of working with a director and rehearsing it properly. I find it so fascinating to be able to dig deep into a text, and find things you don’t see on a first or second reading.When I did The Hollow Crown for the BBC with Dominic Cooke, we had five weeks’ rehearsal and that experience was so nourishing.When I talk about her classical training, she replies: “I don’t even know what that means anymore, it feels such a long time ago.Also a lot of it I didn’t really understand while I was there.They put some of us into the original production of Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money.It was my first real experience of professional theatre, and we played the traders on the floor and I had one line.But there’s also something exciting about these two plays just being around the corner from each other. ” The theatre is where Okonedo feels truly at home and where she tells me she has forged some of her strongest working and personal relationships.“Theatre is what I always imagined myself doing when I first started.
She is now a leading film and stage actor who has both been Oscar nominated and a Tony award winner on Broadway.
You go somewhere and you get in a show, you apply for RADA, you get in and you get a scholarship.” At RADA, her contemporaries included Rufus Norris, Adrian Lester, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Michael Sheen and Mark Benton.
“Once you do that sort of training, it sets you up for everything else.” Not, she stresses, that you ever stop -training, or learning.
Winston Pinnock and April de Angelis were in it, too, and they ended up doing really well.
I didn’t stay long in the group, instead joining the youth theatre there, improvising and making a play called Women and Sisters, which was about black and white women freedom fighters.