July 17, 2021
From Jane Austen’s Persuasion to sci-fi comedies and action thrillers, Nikki Amuka-Bird is driven by strong characters. The Actor talks about mourning her mum, colour-blind casting and being inspired by Helen McCrory
Nikki Amuka-Bird: ‘I’ve found my voice’
When Nikki Amuka-Bird started work on Old, the latest film from Hollywood supernatural-loving director M Night Shyamalan, she knew it was going to be special. It was the summer of 2020, and production on films and television had tentatively started up again. She flew to the Dominican Republic with an international cast, during Hurricane season, to shoot the story of a group of people on holiday on a secluded island, who suddenly start to age at a rapid rate. I was not able to see it before we met, but it turns out that Amuka-Bird hasn’t watched it yet, either. The director of The Sixth Sense and Signs – Night, as she calls him, fondly – works on his films right up until the last minute and the mystery is all part of the fun. What she can tell me, though, is that it turned out to be far more than a run-of-the-mill acting Job.
“It was the most incredible experience,” Amuka-Bird says, “on many levels.” She is on a break from filming the Netflix adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and at home, briefly, in her flat near Westbourne Grove in London. She has lived in the area on and off since she was five. Her old primary school is just around the corner. Things feel familiar, “even though it’s changed quite a lot over the years, obviously – it used to have a bit of West Indian community.”
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