Sheila Atim

actress, singer, composer, and former model

Encyclopedia from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Sheila Atim

Damson Idris (Joe), Sheila Atim (Keira) (12497877163).jpg
Atim (right), with Damson Idris in Ghost Town (2014)
BornJanuary 1991 (age 31)
EducationKing's College London (Biomedical Science)
OccupationActress, singer, playwright, composer
Years active2013–present

Sheila Atim MBE (born January 1991) is a Ugandan-born British actress, singer, composer, and playwright. She made her professional acting debut in 2013 at Shakespeare's Globe in The Lightning Child, a musical that she co-wrote along with her acting teacher Ché Walker.

Following critically acclaimed stage roles in the Donmar Warehouse's all-female Shakespeare trilogy in 2016 among others, Atim won the 2018 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role as Marianne Laine in an original production of Girl from the North Country. She has composed songs for several productions and premiered her play Anguis at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Atim has also been cast in several television series, including the cancelled Game of Thrones successor series Bloodmoon, the BBC's The Pale Horse and Amazon’s, The Underground Railroad, directed by Barry Jenkins. In 2021, she starred in Netflix's successful sports drama Bruised, directed and produced by Halle Berry. In 2022, she won another Laurence Olivier Award, this time for Best Lead Actress, for her performance in the play Constellations.

Early life

Sheila Atim was born in January 1991[1] in Uganda and moved to the United Kingdom with her mother at the age of five months. She grew up in Rainham, London, and attended the Coopers' Company and Coborn School school. Atim did some occasional modelling as a teenager after having been recruited when she shaved the side of her head for a school prom.[2][3][4][5] Atim appeared in a 2009 London Fashion Week event called All Walks beyond the Catwalk, organized by the British Fashion Council to showcase clothes that were for "real women".[6] She later said that "modelling was never a big earner for me. I was unusual looking, so I couldn't go for commercial castings."[2]

Career

Theatre

Atim graduated with a degree in biomedical science from King's College London and trained as an actor at the Weekend Arts Centre in Belsize Park, London. She became involved in a workshop for a new play, The Lightning Child, which led to her being cast by her acting teacher Ché Walker for her professional acting debut at Shakespeare's Globe in 2013.[4][7][8][9] In 2020, she told the King's College alumni magazine that "I look back and feel a strong connection between my scientific and artistic sides. Science often comes up in my work – even the way I approach things in the rehearsal room is affected by having taken BioMed. Sometimes it’s little private parallels and analogies I make for myself."[10]

The Lightning Child, written by Walker and Arthur Darvill, ran for several weeks from mid-September 2013[11] and was the first musical staged at Shakespeare's Globe.[12] It received mixed reviews, with the Financial Times describing it as "a bold experiment, but sadly not a successful one" and The Guardian review calling it "oddly conventional and pointlessly excessive".[13] The Independent said that despite the production being overlong and having problems with the structure, it was "hard not to like" the show.[12]

Atim in Ghost Town, 2014

Atim played Keira, the physical embodiment of obsessive–compulsive disorder, in Ghost Town at the York Theatre Royal in early 2014.[14] What's On Stage praised her "mesmeric physical presence"[15] and The Yorkshire Times review said that Atim "dominated the stage".[16] Following this, Atim appeared with Ako Mitchell in Walker's two-hander Klook's Last Stand, being praised by The Guardian for an energetic performance[17] and "tremendous stage presence" by The Daily Telegraph.[18] In the autumn of 2014 she appeared in Rachel at the Finborough Theatre[19] and followed this by joining the touring production of Kate Tempest's Hopelessly Devoted.[9] In addition to this, Atim played three roles in Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) productions: the Attendant in The Jew of Malta,[20] Julia in Love's Sacrifice,[21] and Assistant to Lady Politic Would-Be in Volpone.[22] Walker's The Etienne Sisters, which included songs composed by Atim, opened two days before the end of her run in Volpone.[22][23]

Leading roles

Atim's first major stage role[24] was the non-speaking part of The Woman in Les Blancs at the National Theatre in 2016. The Stage said of her performance that "at the centre of the narrative is its most potent character: a gaunt, stooped and silent woman."[25] The New York Times described a "spine-tingling production" and suggested that Atim's character may be an emblem of Africa.[26] The Times later referred to her performance as "mesmerising".[4]

Atim received acclaim for her 2016 performances in the Donmar Warehouse's all-female Shakespeare trilogy set in a women's prison, when she played Ferdinand in The Tempest, Gadshill and Lady Percy in Henry IV, and Lucius in Julius Caesar.[4][24][27] The Guardian said Atim was "a glorious, giddy Ferdinand and a moving Lady Percy – [and] frequently seems to be physically stabbing the text as much as speaking it"[28] and The Independent wrote "Sheila Atim (Ferdinand) and Leah Harvey (Miranda) are adorably funny and charming as they capture the giddy gaucheries of first love."[29] Atim won a 2018 Clarence Derwent Award, presented to best supporting actors in London productions, for her roles in The Tempest and Les Blancs.[30]

Her leading role in Babette received a more mixed assessment, with The Times saying she was "the best thing about [the] production"[4] while The Daily Telegraph review said "It's a pity ... that Babette, whose story this is, should remain, in Atim's somewhat remote performance, so distant a figure."[31]

She played Marianne Laine in the original run of the musical Girl from the North Country at The Old Vic in London from 26 July to 7 October 2017. Following the success of The Old Vic production, it transferred into London's West End at the Noël Coward Theatre from 29 December for a limited 12-week run until 24 March 2018.[32] The play is set during the Great Depression and Atim's character Marianne Laine is a black woman, who was adopted by a white couple that run a struggling guesthouse. The character is pregnant and appears to have been forsaken by the father of her unborn child. The music for the show consists of songs by Bob Dylan and amongst the numbers that Atim performs are his "Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)" and "Idiot Wind". The Guardian described Atim as "outstanding" in the role, with delivery of "Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)" being "direct, unaffected and perfectly poised" and her performance of "Idiot Wind" a "beautiful reading".[33] The Times stated that "Atim, in a strong cast, is standout," in an article that was headlined "She sings Dylan better than Bob."[4] For her Girl from the North Country role, she received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play at the 18th WhatsOnStage awards[34] and won the 2018 Laurence Olivier award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.[35][36]

In 2018, she played Emilia opposite Mark Rylance's Iago in Othello at Shakespeare's Globe, where according to The Independent, "she unleashed a fury that blew the greatest actor of his generation off the stage."[37]

Atim presented her first play as an author, Anguis, at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[24] It features Cleopatra being interviewed by a scientist and singing, Atim also having composed the songs.[38] The Times considered it to be an "intriguing look at female power ... that marks [Atim] as a playwright to watch",[39] whereas The Scotsman, while praising the songs and some performances, lamented that "the stories of the hugely privileged queen and the stressed-out modern black Londoner never quite come together as strongly as the situation promises."[38]

Television, film, and music

Atim played Viola and Sebastian in a film version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and won the Screen Nation 2019 Best Female Performance film award.[40][41] In 2018 she portrayed Limehouse Nell in ITV's Harlots.[37]

Atim plays piano, violin, bass, and drums.[37] She composed the score for the play Time Is Love at London's Finborough Theatre in 2019,[42] the year that she was named one of the cast of the Game of Thrones prequel series Bloodmoon.[43] The planned series was cancelled following the pilot episode.[44][24] She appeared as an alleged witch in the 2020 BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse[45][24] and as of early 2020 was working on The Underground Railroad,[24] The Irregulars,[46] and Bruised.[47]

In June 2019 Atim was named an MBE for her services to drama.[48] She is also on the Board of Trustees of The Old Vic Theatre Trust.[49]

Credits

Theatre

Dates Title Role Venue Ref.
18 September – 12 October 2013[a] The Lightning Child Maenad Shakespeare's Globe [11][8][50]
6 February – 4 March 2014 Ghost Town Keira York Theatre Royal (Pilot Theatre) [14]
13 June – 6 July 2014 Klook's Last Stand Vinette Park Theatre, London [51]
30 September – 25 October 2014 Rachel Mrs. Laine Finborough Theatre [32][19]
From 6 November 2014 Hopelessly Devoted Chess National tour (starting at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre) [9]
18 March – 8 September 2015 The Jew of Malta Attendant Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (Royal Shakespeare Company) [20]
11 April – 24 June 2015 Love's Sacrifice Julia [21]
3 July – 12 September 2015 Volpone Assistant to Lady Politic Would-Be [22]
10 September – 3 October 2015 The Etienne Sisters Additional songs[b] Theatre Royal Stratford East [23][52]
22 March – 2 June 2016 Les Blancs The Woman National Theatre [32][25]
23 September – 17 December 2016 Shakespeare Trilogy: The Tempest Ferdinand Donmar Warehouse [27]
Shakespeare Trilogy: Henry IV Gadshill & Lady Percy
Shakespeare Trilogy: Julius Caesar Lucius
23–25 March 2017 Black Lives Black Words – The Interrogation of Sandra Bland Bland One Bush Theatre [32][53]
9 May – 3 June 2017 Babette's Feast Babette Print Room [32][54]
26 July – 7 October 2017 Girl from the North Country Marianne Laine Old Vic [32][55]
29 December 2017 – 24 March 2018 Noël Coward Theatre
20 July – 13 October 2018 Othello Emilia Shakespeare's Globe [8][56]
1–26 January 2019 Time is love / Tiempo Es Amor Rosa Finborough Theatre [57]
1–26 August 2019 Anguis Author[b] Gilded Balloon Teviot [24][58]
18 June – 1 August 2021 Constellations Marianne Vaudeville Theatre [59]

Television

Year Film Role Distributor Ref.
2014 I Live with Models Mean Girl 1 Comedy Central [50]
2018 Harlots Limehouse Nell Hulu [37]
2019 Bounty Hunters The Investigator Sky One [50]
2019 The Feed Amanda Javad Amazon [50]
2020 The Pale Horse Thryza Grey BBC [60]
2021 The Irregulars The Tooth Fairy Netflix [46]
2021 The Underground Railroad Mabel Amazon [24]
2021 Royal Bastards: Rise of the Tudors Storyteller Sky History [61]

Film

Year Film Role Production Company Ref.
2015 Twelfth Night Viola/Sebastian Interactive Shakespeare Company [40][62]
2020 Sulphur and White Samira Emu Films [50]
2020 Bruised Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa Thunder Road Films [47]
2020 The Show John Conqueror Lex Film [50]
2022 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Sara Marvel Studios
2022 The Woman King Amenza TriStar Pictures [63]

Radio

Year Film Role Distributor Ref.
2017 The Anansi Boys Rosie, Sybilla BBC Radio 4 [64]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2017 Evening Standard Theatre Award Emerging Talent Girl from the North Country Nominated [65][66]
Critics’ Circle Theatre Award Most Promising Newcomer Won [67]
2018 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical Won [36]
Clarence Derwent Award[c] Les Blancs and The Tempest Won [30]
2019 Screen Nation Film and Television Award Best Female Performance in Film Twelfth Night Won [41]
2022 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Constellations Won [68]

Notes

  1. ^ Professional debut
  2. ^ a b Non-acting
  3. ^ The awards honour best supporting actors in London productions.

References

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  6. ^ Mesure, Susie (13 September 2009). "Real women can look 'spectacular' say eight designers, and here's proof – Larger models strut their stuff at mould-breaking London Fashion Week event". The Independent on Sunday (London, England). pp. 22–23. ISSN 0958-1723. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
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  63. ^ Kit, Borys (27 September 2021). "Adrienne Warren, Sheila Atim Join Viola Davis in Historical Drama 'The Woman King' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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External links

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