Earlier this year, the coveted male lead in Max Minghella’s directorial debut Teen Spirit went to freshly minted Lamda graduate Archie Madekwe. The south London actor plays opposite Elle Fanning’s would-be singer in the coming-of-age story set on the Isle of Wight.
Until Teen Spirit, Madekwe’s most significant role was on stage as Billy in Edward Albee’s The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, with Sophie Okonedo, Damian Lewis and Jason Hughes. “I really started at the top,” Madekwe enthuses of The Goat. “I learned more doing that job than anything else I’ve ever done. Nothing can really teach you about doing a show every day for three months in front of 900 people. You just have to teach yourself to make it exciting and to make it fresh, and still have energy.”
Madekwe, who attended the prestigious Brit School in Croydon from the age of 14, knows how lucky he has been in the kinds of parts he has been offered as a mixed-race actor. “Riz Ahmed talks about how, for a BAME actor, there are stages one, two and three of the kind of roles you play,” he explains. “You start with the stereotype, then you get the ones edging away from the stereotype and then finally the roles where it doesn’t matter. I’ve been lucky that all of my roles have been in that bracket at stage three.”
After theatre and film, Madekwe would now like to work on a high-end TV series. “TV at the moment is so exciting,” he says. “Some characters have an incredible arc and a journey you get to follow through the entire series. I’d love to have a character I could do such detailed work on.”
He would also love to work with director Steve McQueen. “His character work is so rich and the films are so good,” he says. “He’s an absolute genius.”
Contact: Olivia Woodward, Curtis Brown