Making her pantomime debut in the title role of Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Timmika Ramsay tells Ruth Comerford about feeling blessed to play roles that are changing the industry and challenging the perception of women…
How did you get into performing?
I was one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to do. I grew up singing in church. My family encouraged me so much – I have to thank them because many other families from my area were saying: “Why don’t you go for something more stable?” I was born performing, and always had a strong belief that I could make people laugh. I went to drama school to do straight acting, and was also doing music on the side.
How are rehearsals going for your pantomime debut?
It’s so much fun, but really full on. Pantomime acting is a real skill – it’s so nice to see actors thinking on their feet. It’s amazing to be in the rehearsal room watching how quickly people pick up on something or adjust and are able to make a joke. I never know how they do it. With panto you are sharing everything with the audience and I haven’t had that experience yet, so I am learning loads. Panto acting is much bigger and you’re giving everything to the audience.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your career so far?
Thinking that I’m not good enough. I’ve been trying to overcome feeling like an imposter – that’s been one of my challenges. I’ve struggled with personal image: wondering whether I need to lose weight or have straight hair to get jobs. Now, when I am at an audition and feeling doubtful I always say to myself: “You’re enough.” My advice to anyone who wants to be a performer is make sure you love it, and know that you do not have to change yourself for the industry – the industry should be changing for you. Stick to your guns, know who you are and love it.
What role would you love to play in the future?
I grew up in Luton, and my family was affected by quite a lot of gang-related events. The contrast between travelling home and being surrounded by people at drama school who didn’t have the same experience as me is something I would like to write about – but in a comedic way, with a bit of music. I’d like people who grew up in a similar situation to think: “Oh, she got out, her family is doing well, I can be like that too.” I would also love to play a curvy superhero in a Marvel movie.
What are your future plans?
I’m in a TV series called Adult Material, which is coming out on Channel 4 in 2020. I’ve been so blessed to be playing roles that are changing the industry, and the perception of women. Right now I’m in Cinderella – not only as a black woman, but as a full-figured black woman. Little girls who want to be actors will be able to see me and not think: “I have to lose so much weight for the role, I won’t be able to play that part, I have to change my appearance.” And that is exciting.
Training: BA (hons) Acting, Rose Bruford (2014-17)
First professional role: Shaz in Enterprice, BBC3 (2018)
Agent: Michael Ford at Hatch Talent
Cinderella is running at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London until January 5