News Article

12th Feb 2018

Q & A with Josette Bushell-Mingo


What can people expect to see when they come to Nina - A Story About Me and Nina Simone?

A fierce, uncompromising dialogue about love, forgiveness, black-ness and fighting back. A story woven within Nina's extraordinary songs, shadows of her life and my own life too. You will see three extraordinary musicians. Joy and humour. The audiences can expect great concert and theatre experience that will be both complex and simple.

If you expect sing-a-long-a-nina you have booked the wrong show – but if you want to be brave stay with me!

What inspired you to create the show?

I am not sure inspiration is the right word, it was more like I had just had enough. 2015 was a year with so many deaths of Black people in the USA. I was disgusted, afraid and appalled.

I knew I couldn't do Nina without lifting her civil rights work, and thereby reflecting on where we are and how we got here and where art comes in and when is enough. Other activists inspired me, my travels between the USA, Sweden and England these last two years and also to African continent – Gambia; it all just landed.

For those who haven't heard of you before, please could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Well, I was born in the east end of London to working class parents from South America Guyana. I am the second daughter of four. None of my family are in the arts. In my last year at college I got a place at Breton University to study a BA in theatre but at the same time a theatre company called Kaboodle held a workshop at my college. After the workshop Kaboodle asked me to join - and the rest is history.

Within my varied career, I have performed at the National Theatre, the RSC and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and I am an OBE and patron of the Unity Theatre in Liverpool. I was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2000 for Best Actress in a Musical for the role of Rafiki in the London production of The Lion King. I am a guest professor at Washington University and Coventry University, and currently artistic director for National Deaf Theatre of Sweden.

I'm 53, an Aquarian, read tarot and am allergic to apples.

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