Seated in reception at Channel 4, home of Susan Wokoma’s latest comedy Year of the Rabbit, I’m excited to interview the writer and actress. Though her role as Cynthia in Michaela Coel's wildly popular series Chewing Gum is how many of us got to know the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, but Wokoma’s been acting since she was seventeen.
Susan Wokoma has paid her dues and earned her spot. From starring in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s cult classic Crashing, Wokoma has been a trusted name in television and film for over a decade. Training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, her flawless comedic timing is what sets her apart from her peers and Black Ballad sat down with her to discuss what it’s really like being a black actress in Britain and about her self-care in such a punishing industry.
BB: You had the screening last night. What was that like?
SW: We did the pilot in 2017, so that was the first time I’ve been around audience reaction.
BB: When you’re on set, you’re working off your own talent, but then you wait for a really long time during post-production where you don’t get to see it. What does it do for you having that audience reaction when your jokes land?
SW: It’s great. Cos there are things you don’t think would land that land. And you sort of go ‘God, that’s really interesting.’ The thing that I’ve got good at is when I film something I never look at playback. I do the scene and I never go to the monitor and look at what I’m doing because ultimately it doesn’t matter. When they go into edit they’re going to decide, so it means that by the time it’s put together, I feel weirdly detached in a way that means I can enjoy any reaction that we do have. That was the case yesterday. And I like and really believe in this show, so that helps. When you don’t believe in the show you just don’t turn up to the screening. Don’t do it to yourself. Don’t do it to anyone else. I’m confident in this one which is weird for me to say.