Zawe Ashton interview: The actress is moving on from Fresh Meat with a starring role in Channel 4’s comedy drama Not Safe for Work

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-07-28 22:28Z by Steven

Zawe Ashton interview: The actress is moving on from Fresh Meat with a starring role in Channel 4’s comedy drama Not Safe for Work

The Independent

Gillian Orr

Multi-talented: Ashton likes to do her own thing Immo Klink

Acting, directing, writing: Zawe Ashton is a woman on the move. Gillian Orr tries to keep up

I’ve only just been introduced to Zawe Ashton and she turns to me and whispers, “Let’s make a run for it!” The actress has been holed up in her publicist’s office for the past few hours. Her minders are just out of earshot. “I need some natural light,” she says as we scarper out the front door and head down a Soho street to a cafe. “I’m going to get into so much trouble,” she laughs.

Ashton is very much a woman on the move. And she likes to do her own thing. We might know her best for her portrayal of the wannabe punk Vod in Channel 4’s student-life sitcom Fresh Meat but there is far more to her than acting. She also directs, produces, and writes. Over the past decade she’s been energetic in theatre and film, and soon she’s going to be published. There’s just no holding her back, and here she is again, coffee ordered, keeping one step ahead.

She is down from Manchester, where she’s been filming the fourth – and final – series of Fresh Meat. Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s brilliant creation has helped turn Ashton into one of television’s most striking new actresses, but now she is moving on. A new Channel 4 comedy drama – Not Safe for Work, which begins at the end of the month – is going to show Ashton in a very different light.

Following the chaotic personal and professional lives of a group of dysfunctional government employees who have been forced to relocate from London to Northampton, Not Safe for Work sees Ashton playing Katherine, a recently divorced woman coming to terms with her displacement from the capital and having to live in a flatshare at an age when she thought she’d be having babies…

…Later that year she also won the award for Best Breakthrough On-Screen Talent at the Creative Diversity Network for her work in Fresh Meat. With Vod, just as it is with Katherine, the fact that Ashton is mixed race is never made out to be an issue that needs to be addressed in storylines. It simply isn’t mentioned. Anyone of any ethnicity could have played these characters. Was that a sense that she had strived to achieve? “I’m glad it seems effortless,” she says. “It’s something that I’ve worked really hard at. I think I’ve always felt that I want to do a very specific type of work and I’ve made informed decisions. You know, hopefully be part of a quiet movement or revolution.” She pauses to giggle. “Without sounding too Che Guevara about it.”

She says that as a child she would hand back scripts to her mother and tell her that she didn’t like how certain characters were represented. At the same time, she doesn’t want her background to be ignored. “I don’t want to be ‘de-ethnicised’. I hate it when people say, ‘Oh I don’t even think of you as a woman’, or, ‘I don’t even think of you as a black woman.’ Well what do you think of me as then? A loaf of bread? But any actor of any race can tell if a part is well written or not. It’s really just about reading stuff that feels well-observed and truthful.”…

Read the entire article here.

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