Jodie Turner-Smith: “Taking advantage of Anne Boleyn’s turmoil was so easy” | Television
JOdie Turner-Smith is a British actor and the star of the upcoming Channel 5 drama Anne Boleyn, in which she plays the doomed queen. Born in Peterborough, Turner-Smith moved to the United States as a child and then worked in finance before starting a career in modeling. She made her acting debut in 2013 in the HBO supernatural drama Real bloodand co-starred with Daniel Kaluuya in 2019 Queen and Slim, a road movie about a black couple on the run. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Joshua Jackson, and their one-year-old daughter.
You play Anne Boleyn as she crosses turmoil and betrayal in the last three months of his life. How did you manage to take advantage of this mood?
Honestly, it was so easy. I think I was so raw because I had just had a baby, so all of these great emotions resonated with me. I could feel how angry, passionate, desperate and heartbroken she was. It was the first job I did after having a baby and I was redefining myself as well as [being] an artist. After going through something so transformational, you are a new person.
What do you think is the most new?
Well there is so much to understand. Like, how to come to yourself in this new body with this new state of mind. And so feeling it all and translating it into character, it was really easy.
How familiar were you with the Anne Boleyn story; are you passionate about history?
Because we have no record of his life – no letters or journals or anything in his own words – I had to find a different approach. Historian Dan Jones and I created a bible for Anne Boleyn that talked about her, facts about her life, her upbringing, which I used to see how that would motivate this woman to do the things that she has. do, to be the person she wanted to be.
Did you expect the backlash from being a black woman playing Anne Boleyn?
In fact, recent times have shown us that we are by no means beyond that. So I was not shocked or surprised. I will say that over the past four years there has been a wave of far-right ideas and individuals are making their voices heard on social media in their limited ways of thinking. I was not surprised that people were angry about this. Plus, when someone cares about a character and is a huge fan of someone in the story, they’ll feel passionate and invest in seeing them the way they envisioned them in their mind. It’s not their fault, I guess.
It is a very generous and diplomatic take! In a recent interview, Daniel Kaluuya was made very clear that racism in the industry was holding him back in the UK, which is why, like many other actors, he found his career in the US. Do you think you would have had the same career opportunities in Britain as in the United States?
It is impossible to say what may have happened and I have no way of really knowing. But I believe what I hear from my fellow actors about the limitations of black actors in the UK historically and now. And I experience the limitations of black actors in the United States. Racism is at work in our industry. Complete stop. So whatever market I started in, it was always going to be a hindrance for me, it was guaranteed, in the same way that any success or visibility makes me a spokesperson for the grievances of my community.
As to whether or not I would have had the same opportunities – who knows? When I went to business school in America, they taught us that success is about positioning yourself for luck, a concept that I have always found wonderful. Because the idea that success equals effort plus chance means that there is no real answer to being successful – I’m just making it up as I go. Am I luckier in America than I would be in England? I could never find out, but I certainly hope not.
Queen and Slim touched on police brutality, Black Lives Matter and social injustice at a time when these conversations were in the foreground, but it had a mixed reception. What did you think of its impact?
In some ways, we were a little ahead of what the movie said and did. These issues aren’t new, but no movie to date has made the statement we made. With everything that happened last year, when the world erupted into protests, if our film had come out during that time, I think there would have been a different dialogue around it. I think art has to reflect time and that’s just what we were trying to do.
Its success – your first leading role in a film – must mark a real before and after in your life. How much has changed since?
My life has completely changed! This film allowed me to be in conversations that I would never have had without it. Work breeds work and I just try to ride this wave for as long as I can.
You posted a photo of yourself in high school on Instagram and wrote about how much you hated yourself for not fitting in. How did you become happier and more confident?
Nothing happens overnight, it’s always a gradual loss. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I hated myself and it’s really scary. I had spent so much time trying to fit in and conform to something that I am not because to some extent we all mirror the people in front of us. We adapt to our circumstances to be accepted. But once I realized I didn’t like who I was, I was able to figure out how to love myself. The first step is to know you have a problem.
Who do you turn to for help?
My husband is absolutely 100% my rock. Unfortunately he wasn’t with me on this project but we’re two working actors so we don’t always have the luxury of being together when we’re filming. I had my mom and the baby nanny and luckily it was a production run by women, working mothers who had compassion for the experience I was having.
Is it true that your husband was your teenage crush when he starred in Dawson’s Creek?
Come on, who didn’t like Pacey? He answers himself.
Anne Boleyn premieres Tuesday June 1 at 9 p.m. on Channel 5