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The Industry
Simba and Mufasa standing on Pride Rock in Disney's The Lion King show

Image credit: Matthew Murphy/Disney / Still From The Lion King

Our favourite dream roles from the Black British Theatre Award nominations, submitted by Spotlight members

The Black British Theatre Awards were established to highlight the influence of black British actors, performers and creatives in the UK Theatre industry held at the National Theatre on Sunday 29 October 2023. 

To celebrate the 5th award ceremony, Spotlight recently held a competition for two lucky members to attend the Black British Theatre Awards and witness the winners announced live. We asked our members to choose their dream role from the nominated productions and what they would do to make it their own. 

We were thrilled with the number of members who entered and want to thank everyone who submitted their dream role to us. We’ve now read through all the entries and picked out some of the most inspiring ones. 

Without further ado, here are your dream roles inspired by the Black British Theatre Awards and how you’d make them your own, told by you – our members:

‘Mufasa’ in The Lion King

“Mufasa is not just a character – he represents one of the most influential black male father figures in the world of theatre, particularly in the West End. His character exudes strength, wisdom and profound leadership, making him an iconic and powerful role model. Portraying Mufasa would allow me to bring this character to life on stage, delivering a message of resilience and inspiration to audiences, especially those seeking positive representations in the entertainment industry. It’s a role that holds significant cultural and artistic importance and I would be honoured to undertake it.” – Duane-Lamonte O’Garro

‘Troy’ in Sucker Punch

“I can relate to this character on a deeply personal level. Just like Troy, I’ve had my share of challenges and moments of feeling misunderstood and rejected. These experiences can serve as a valuable foundation for creating a hardened and resilient portrayal of the character. Much like Troy, I’ve encountered situations that tested my emotional resilience. I’ve faced rejection, betrayal and adversity, which can inform my understanding of the character’s emotional journey. I would draw upon my own resilience to authentically depict Troy’s ability to weather life’s storms.

There have also been times in my life when I had to reinvent myself to adapt to new circumstances or overcome obstacles. Troy’s character undergoes a transformation and I would channel my own experiences of self-reinvention to portray his evolution convincingly. This could involve changes in demeanour, attitude and outlook.” – Solomon Spence

‘The Mad Hatter’ in Alice in Wonderland

“He’s a character I sympathise with so much, but I never thought it was possible to fit this casting. 

Ever since coming out as non-binary and deconstructing the idea of gender, I’ve realised that roles are so much more than the description of a character. I feel like it would be such a fun role to explore and it would definitely be a beautiful gift to my childhood self who struggled so much trying to fit in little boxes. His shiny personality and welcoming heart make me feel the joy that reminds me why I chose to work with art, knowing always that I should accept myself in every way. As they say: ‘You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.’” – Jasmin Cortez

‘Henrietta Lacks’ from Family Tree

“Her story is a story that was purposely hidden, she was undervalued and her contribution to modern science was under-appreciated in life and death. I would love to play her with a lean on 21st century parallels – how black women are still not being treated equally in health care. I would also love to play with more of the vulnerability because she was indeed vulnerable and taken advantage of. I know Family Tree isn’t necessarily the story of Henrietta, but her story is an important one – who wouldn’t want to help keep her legacy alive?” – Nadine Rose Johnson

‘Lady Bracknell’ in The Importance of Being Earnest

“I would have her speak with one voice/accent, quite a fake one, but accepted through the play until her truth is discovered. Then her real voice will be revealed, and you see how she’s been protecting herself over the years – that she is vulnerable.” – Andrea Davy

‘Juliet’ from & Juliet 

& Juliet was the first musical where I could imagine seeing myself on stage. At the time, when I first watched, I not only lacked belief in my musical and singing abilities, but I also lacked the representation of someone so genuine and authentic on stage for me to see myself within.

Going on to train and become a musical theatre performer, empowered by the notion of grasping hold of the pen that would write my story, I wish to continue the legacy of & Juliet, making the unique, unseen individuals within its audience feel just as important as a legendary protagonist from one of England’s greatest playwrights.

As I stand on that stage, I would exert joy and celebration for change and being different. I hope that, in doing so, I can make the audience feel just as seen and represented as I first felt when seeing it (and every time since).” – Shamael Guy

‘Ericka’ in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

“This is because when she arrives, she shakes things up. I would make it my own by adding scenes of choreography including dance and music in between the transitions of scenes. This is to create a lively and vivid school-type of atmosphere where a lot is going on. The choreography will reveal and set the tone from the previous scene and hint at the tone of the next scene. This will give audiences a break from the action and affect them, providing a spectacle for what’s next to come.” – Anneta Kamara

‘Tina’ in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

“This would be my choice, being a disco queen of this era and a number one fan of the iconic legend, Tina Turner. I have the hair and the moves to dance like her, but sadly not the voice! May she live on with this amazing story via this musical.” – Pina Harrington

Either of the protagonists in Tambo & Bones 

“The way I’d make the role my own is by going back to some of the many auditions I did and reliving that sense of trying to ‘please’ the auditioning panel. This would then serve as an underlying current when the protagonists try to ‘please’ their audience, but at what cost?” – Roger Carvalho

‘Celie’ in The Color Purple

The Color Purple would be a dream to work on. I would turn this beautiful piece into a more dramatic thriller type and capture the horror aspect of it. The role of ‘Celie’ is important, as she goes through abuse and a journey to self-discovery. I would add more dance and songs that take you through the play with choirs and make the audience feel they are on a journey with Celie so they can feel every emotion.” – Yodie Adesina

‘David’ from Sunny Side Up

“I would adapt it and set it in Jamaica, as I am a Jamaican actor. A story like that transcends cultures. A black boy in England can have similar expectations and cultural norms forced upon him as black boys from other countries.” – Marlon Samuda

‘Nelson Mandela’ in Mandela

“My heartfelt aspiration is to perform the iconic role of Nelson Mandela on the theatre stage. The prospect of embodying this remarkable figure is not just a personal dream – it’s an opportunity to convey his enduring legacy and message of hope to a live audience.” – Luis Salinas

Congratulations once again to the winning pair and we hope you all get the chance to play the role of your dreams one day!

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