Actress Davina Cole is one of the fiercest female performers to make her mark on the international entertainment industry in recent years.
With work that includes everything from taking on the starring roles of Sandra in Rodney V. Williams' film Therapy Sessions and Soalaih Ez in multi-award winning director Francoise Ellong's film When Soukhina Disappeared, to the high profile theatrical productions "Women on Wine," "The Wright Brothers," and "Wilberforce Bell," Coles' acting prowess clearly spans the gamut.
Over the years she has managed to immerse herself in a wide range of roles giving knock out performances that make it almost impossible to recognize her from one character to the next. Regardless of the genre or the medium, this actress has a way of pulling us in and leaving an unforgettable impression.
While Cole's seasoned skill and unique look undoubtedly makes her stands out in a cast, what is even more astonishing is her ability to single handedly command an audiences attention-- something she proved with her performance as Salimatu in the one-woman show "All the Colours," which debuted at the Lord Stanley Theatre in London. Not only did Cole write and star in the production, but her performance earned her an award nomination for Best Actress at the 7th annual SOLO Festival of One Man Shows in 2014.
Aside from the upcoming tour of "All The Colours," which is slated to begin later this year, audiences will also be able to catch Davina Cole in My Church and Family, a new series that's expected to be released this summer on Sky Living.
To find out more about this incredibly powerful actress make sure to check out our interview below!
Where are you from?
DC: My name is Davina Cole and I have been performing as an actress in the UK for many years. I was born and raised in southeast London, but my parents are from Sierra Leone in West Africa. My African heritage is very dear to me.
When and how did you get into acting?
DC: I have performed in various films, theatre productions, commercials, voiceovers and radio. I loved watching old movies including African films with my dad on the weekends and always wondered how I could get into performing. Whilst attending an after school club I saw a poster about drama and dance classes. I attended one and from then I was hooked. I then started performing at the age of 13 in local theatre productions. I also toured within the UK with the girl band Catz in my teens.
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
DC: I played the role of Sandra, a therapist, in the film Therapy Sessions. I really enjoyed playing this role. Sandra is a powerful woman in her field of work and is very cool, calm, collected and very much in control. In the film we see her lose control when her family becomes under threat and she loses it quite dramatically. It was very challenging playing the many dimensions of this character. Sandra was a pivotal role in the film as she was the link to all the characters in the drama and key to the twist at the end
I worked with director Rodney V. Williams on Therapy Sessions, and he is the director of the film Hold Me, which was featured in Cannes Court Metrage of the Cannes Film Festival. He also directed the award winning film The Runaway Whore.
I also played the role Soalaih Ez in film When Soukhina Disappeared, a film based on the disappearance of a young girl. Soalaih Ez was one of the last people to see the missing girl and she gives her account of how she touched her life. It was an emotional piece and I really enjoyed playing a character with so many layers. Soaliah was key to getting an account of the final movements of Soukhinas, the girl who disappeared, life. It was such an honor to play this role in such a moving piece of drama.
On this film I worked with award winning director Francoise Ellong whose film W.A.K.A. picked up awards such as the Special Jury Prize at the 17th edition of the Festival Du Cinéma Africain De Khouribga in Morocco, and the Dikalo Award for Best First Feature at the Festival International Du Film Panafricain De Cannes in France. It was also selected for the Hollywood Film Festival.
I played the role of Susan a sassy news reporter in the action horror film Cyborg Ninja vs Vampires directed by Simon Gedney from Copper Key Productions. I also worked alongside Nathan Powell from Pirates of the Caribbean 4 on the film. I really enjoy playing a role that was very different from the roles I usually get cast for; and, having the opportunity to do some action sequences and kick some butt felt very empowering.
How about television projects?
DC: I was in the documentary television series Sinister Ministers, a miniseries that aired on the Discovery Channel in the US. On the series I played the role of Donna, a congregation member and close friend to the reverend, and a key role in the production. I thoroughly enjoyed playing this inquisitive nosey humorous lady. The series was was directed by the great James Cookson who has directed and made many successful films for Firecraker Films.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
DC: I enjoy playing characters with many layers to them-- the meatier the role the better. I tend to go for strong women roles with a bit of vulnerability. I also like pieces that give a strong message. I like undertaking roles that take you on a journey.
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
DC: Because of my physique, stage and screen presence I tend to get cast in headstrong, authoritative and professional women roles.
Can you tell us about some of the theatre productions you've participated in up until now?
DC: I worked with Rodney V. Williams on the comedy hit stage drama "Women on Wine" at the Above the Stage Theatre in Central London in 2010. I was a co-star playing the role of the uppity, takes herself too seriously, Ebony, who is preparing to marry her childhood sweetheart. We see Ebony’s insecurities come to the surface as the play progresses when she becomes stressed and the group overindulges in wine. This was such an amazing experience working with a group of talented women including the star of the "Jesus Christ Superstar," Renee Castle. It was a challenge playing a truthful, credible character whilst at the same time being drunk.
I played the role of Mami Sanami in the iconic West African comedy drama play "Wilberforce Bell," which was presented by the Kabaslot Theatre at the popular central London Catford Broadway theatre. For this production I worked with the Kabaslot Theatre, a well-known theatre in Africa, UK and US, under the safe hands of director Dwight Short. This play really took me out my comfort zone, as I had to learn different elements of my home language Krio.
I played the role of Narrator in the sold out love comedy "The Wright Brothers" directed by Tyrone-Lee Davis under his co-owned theatre company, Opus Entertainment, who have had their projects commissioned by ITV. This was a fun but challenging role as I held the play together appearing throughout and creating a persona to keep the story going and uplifted at all time. It is also set to return in 2016 and I am looking forward to reprising this role.
Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far?
DC: I really enjoy playing strong women roles. My favorite role to date was the role of Delilah in the play "1867." This was based on the life of Madame CJ Walker, America's first black female millionaire. It was such an honor to play such a prominent figure and it was very inspirational and really pushed me as an actress. She was such a strong black women in a time when black women were regularly looked down upon. To have that the success during that period of time is truly amazing. As a character she had many layers and I was really able to explore the role. I hope to play more roles similar to this in the future.
What has been your most challenging role?
DC: My most challenging role had to be the role of Salimatu in my one-woman show, "All The Colours." It is a piece that I wrote and performed both here in the UK and in the US, and it was an extremely emotional play. I felt this role took me to another level in my performance skills, however it was very draining at times playing a mother who had lost so much. Not being a mother myself made it hard to relate to, but having been through my own personal experience of loss and heartache, I was able to bring that to my performance and give a truthful performance.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
DC: My favorite genre definitely has to be drama. This genre tends to have roles with hidden depths, and they are quite exciting to research and to play.
What separates you from other actors?
DC: I feel what separates from other actors is what I bring on a personal level to each and every role I play. I feel all my life experiences, both good and bad, have helped me grow as an actress; and it has helped me bring that element of truth to many roles.
You've been nominated for several awards over the course of your career- can you tell us about the award nominations and how it felt being recognized for your work?
DC: My biggest achievement so far is the success I've received from my one-woman show "All the Colours." I wrote it myself and I was nominated for a Best Actress Award at the 7th SOLO Festival of One Man Shows in the UK in 2014, which was was held at the Lord Stanley Theatre in central London. I then went on to be selected as a finalist at the prestigious 22nd Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival. It was amazing to be selected to perform alongside amazingly talented women from all around the world. The subject matter is very dear to me as it centers on Sierra Leone and the civil war, which affected thousands including my family. It was great to let people know some of what happened back then through performing the show.
What are your plans for the future?
DC: I have started filming a new British TV series to be shown on Sky TV. I am very excited about the character as she's very out outspoken, feisty and very witty. She's a character with many different sides to her and I can’t wait to play her. I plan to write more including a piece I am currently writing on the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, which I want to make into a screenplay. I also plan to make my one-woman show into a web series and by popular demand I will be taking my one-woman show on tour, which is really exciting!
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
DC: I hope to get meatier roles, which will push me further as an artist. I really admire the body of work and talent of Angela Bassett and Viola Davis and I would love to work them. To work with such talented women would be amazing.
What kind of training have you done?
DC: I did a postgraduate degree in performance at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, one of the top 10 drama schools in the UK. The training was rigorous and laid the foundation for me to become the actress that I am today.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
DC: From a young age I remember watching classic old black and white movies on a Saturday afternoon and I was memorized by performances from actresses such as Grace Kelly, Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe, Sofia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. I often used to dream of being on screen too. That enticed me to start going to classes, which eventually led to me apply for drama school and the rest is history.