Sheila Atim Suits Up For ‘The Woman King’

She’s most often recognised, however, for her devastating performance as Mabel in Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of The Underground Railroad – whose guide, Thuso Mbedu, performs an aspiring military recruit in The Woman King. “I locate those sort of crossovers transpire to me a good deal,” Atim reflects happily. “You conclusion up developing these communities of like-minded persons, and functioning with them again and once again.” Her up coming reunion? An A24 movie with Jenkins and Moonlight producer Adele Romanski, which she describes as a “coming-of-age tale set in the South”.

All points deemed, it’s difficult to believe that that Atim only severely thought about an performing profession in her 20s. Her mom still left Uganda all through the civil war in the early ’90s with an toddler Atim in tow, settling in the suburbs of East London forever. A eager college student with a present for new music (she plays no much less than 4 instruments), Atim initially prepared to develop into a medical doctor, finding out biomedical science at King’s University London with singing as her fallback – ahead of £2 performing lessons with Ché Walker, the identical director who mentored Michaela Coel, established her on a diverse path. Within just a couple of years, Atim experienced become a West End mainstay, saying her to start with Olivier for Female From the North Region in 2018.

The Female King, nonetheless, introduced a new problem, with Prince-Bythewood taking pictures the historic epic in just two months. “I started out from zero,” Atim remembers of her boot-camp-type coaching, which provided mastering spear-throwing and finding out a fight dance that “nearly killed me”. Filming situations in South Africa proved tricky, too like real Dahomey warriors, the forged members ended up slicked with oil (“I would get house lined in pink dust”) and navigated the rocky terrain barefoot. “It’s an rigorous situation, and you are striving to give the materials the reverence that it justifies,” she states. “The stakes are absolutely high.”

At property, Atim’s day-to-working day is decidedly extra low-essential. She’s made an obsession with Diy initiatives due to the fact moving into her London apartment (“I’ve instructed every single male and their pet about it… I even went to an occasion with paint nonetheless on my arms”), and she likes to spend her spare evenings likely to jam sessions by herself. “Live new music is a huge replenisher for me,” she claims. “I enjoy currently being on my possess, undertaking issues on my personal, heading places on my possess – which is me, that’s my existence, and I like it.”

People hrs on your own provide a reason, much too: preventing the multihyphenate from burning out. At the minute, Atim is establishing a screenplay influenced by her Ugandan track record, in involving working an casual salon for British creatives and writing a lot more of her very own music, which fuses jazz, hip-hop and classical influences. She’s self-assured that all of these disparate threads will conclusion up weaving on their own jointly at some place. “Sometimes you have to go all over a corner a minimal little bit to occur back again and go, ‘Oh, all right, I know where I am now.’ ” She pauses, then breaks into a grin: “A minor little bit like me having in this article this morning.”

The Lady King is in cinemas from 4 Oct