Hi Amena. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into the industry and your first role?
I studied musical theatre at Chichester Conservatoire from 2017 to 2020 losing the last couple months of my course to the pandemic. After a year of living in Germany with my partner and waiting for the theatres to reopen, in summer 2021. I flew to London to attend the DABB Showcase where I was lucky enough to perform for a wonderful panel of industry folk including my Agent Fiona at Keddie Scott Associates. My first and second Job were cast by the recently passed Kay Magson and I will never forget her warm presence that made you forget you were even in an audition. My First job was the Rock n' Roll panto Robin Hood at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre as an Actor-Muso Fairy on Vocals, percussion, keys 2 and ukulele. It was a joyful production to be a part of.
Did you always want to perform?
One of my earliest memories of wanting to be a performer was watching the movie Dreamgirls. As a little mixed-race girl from Devon, they were some of the only black female role models I knew of and all I wanted was to be like them! I spent most of my school years training for sports competitions and I didn't see my first live Musical (The Lion King) until I was 14, that's when the penny dropped that this was even a career. I remember tears streaming down my face as I made a desperate wish in the auditorium that one day it could be me. I've pulled my very non-musical family along with me and they've grown to embrace my mad career and be my biggest supporters.
You join the cast of Les Misérables later this month as Éponine, marking your West End debut! How are the rehearsals going?
I couldn't have imagined just how truly amazing this would be, I'm performing in a dream role and this talented cast and creative team inspire me every day. I would say it's the hardest I've ever worked in my life but in a way that feels safe, supportive and enjoyable.
Do you have a favourite moment in the show?
It's hard to choose because Éponine has such a fun track throughout with juicy highs and lows but I particularly enjoyed rehearsing the "attack on Rue Plummet", it's a brilliant confrontational scene that shows off Éponine's bravery and the music is SO COOL and different from any other song in the show. I also get to fight with Luke Kempner who is as fierce as he is hilarious playing Thénardier.
How are you feeling about playing in such a big West End show night after night?
I'm probably as nervous as I am excited! It's an honour and a big responsibility taking over this iconic role. I hope to create a version of Éponine that is both new and nostalgic for the fans. She is such a cathartic character to portray as even in her saddest moments she is brave, creative and loving. I know I will cherish singing on my own 8 times a week, it's what so many young actresses dream of, and I'm still shook that it gets to be me!
What productions have you recently seen that you would recommend?
A few of us recently went on a cast trip to see our talented colleague Ben Culleton in La Cage aux Folles at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and it was an absolute joy from start to finish! Oh, and on the first day of rehearsals, I went and saw Les Mis, it really is the best show ever and I can't wait to be a part of it.
You can find tickets from £25: here.