Gina Yashere: “The role I would have liked to take? I was not offered enough ”| TV and radio


The last show you liked

I can destroy you from Michaela Coel, who is a genius. I love that black creators are finally getting their stories on TV. She had to fight to take control of her own project and she found a style of storytelling that has never been seen before – it’s so raw and unfiltered.

Your guilty pleasure television

I am not guilty of everything I watch. I watch really shitty reality shows, like Marrying Millions, where the poor marry the rich. It’s just terrible TV, but it’s a little addicting. This is the kind of television you watch to go: “My life is not as bad as I thought it was. I’m not ashamed to watch this stuff and judge people.

Your favorite show when you were 10

As a kid, I loved Kenny Everett. I thought it was hilarious because he got away with swearing on TV without swearing, or without people knowing it. Like the character who opened his legs and named Cupid Stunt. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what he had done.

I also loved a sitcom called No Problem, with all the black celebrities of the time like Victor Romero Evans and Judith Jacob. It was about a group of children whose parents had left them in England to return to Jamaica. They are all in their late teens and twenties and are doing it on their own. Shows like these shaped me and made me realize that there was room for us – that we can do good things on TV and not just play criminals or be the butt of jokes.

The show you wish you could play

“People wouldn’t believe that a show with all the black actors could exist and work well”… Famalam. Photograph: Des Willie / BBC / Des Willie

I love the Famalam sketch show. I would have loved to be on a show like this when I was doing comedy in England, with black comedians and actors doing skits about us. I tried to sell this concept a number of times when I was in England and people wouldn’t believe that a show with all the black actors could exist and work well. It used to be lip service, but now there is a real change happening and it is being felt all over the world. Now they have been listening to what we have been saying for years. This confirms that they are acting on it rather than just talking about diversity and doing nothing.

The show that should be canceled

Mrs. Brown’s boys. I do not understand. I don’t understand why this stuff is still relevant, it’s so cliché and it dates back to the 70s, but obviously there is an audience for it. At the end of the day, I’m not a snob and think there is something for everyone. I just don’t understand.

The role you wish you had never turned down

There are not any; I don’t have enough. As a black actor in England, there wasn’t enough work. I turned down a lot of stuff I’m glad I did because I don’t play drug dealer or security guard. But I also almost turned down this show I’m doing now, Bob Hearts Abishola, and I would have regretted that. Thought it was gonna be exploitation, being done by this white sitcom king of America [Chuck Lorre] who is behind The Big Bang Theory. But luckily there are people in my corner who called me from England and told me to do it and now that’s the defining element of my career. People really appreciate it because it’s genuine, it’s genuine, and it’s needed right now when white supremacy is on the rise.


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