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Get To Know Nigerian British Co-Star Of "Luther" Season 2 - Nikki Amuka-Bird

by Tambay A. Obenson
October 27, 2011 5:06 AM
6 Comments
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Season 2 of Idris Elba's critically-acclaimed BBC drama series Luther has officially ended (it aired in the UK earlier this year, and in the US earlier this month), with just 4 episodes. That's it. Just 4 measly episodes, unlike last season's 6, leaving fans still hungry for more of the *mental* detective.

But no worries; a 3rd season is being developed, which will debut in late 2012 or early 2013; plus Idris continues to express his desire to bring Luther to the big screen, and I'd say, given the success of the show stateside, and Idris' growing popularity, there's certainly a good chance that could happen

If you've watched season 2, which is now out on DVD and VOD by the way, you would have noticed that a number of new faces have been added to the cast, most notably, DS Erin Gray, played by Nigerian British actress Nikki Amuka-Bird.

Never heard of her before Luther? You probably aren't alone there. Although you might recall that, back in August, Emmanuel posted an entry on her - specifically about her supporting role in Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus.

The uber-talented 34-year-old actress has appeared in a number of film and TV series, since about 1999, which is when her IMDB resume begins. She also has several stage credits to her name, proving her versatility (Worth noting, Amuka-Bird played Mrs Muller in a London stage version of Doubt; some of you may recall that, in the movie version of that play, Viola Davis played that role and won lots of critical acclaim for it).

She's worked with several of the other black British actors most of us have become familiar with in recent years, like, of course, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, and David Oyelowo, though her star has yet to shine as brightly as theirs. However, that could all certainly change very quickly as she's presented with more and more opportunities to showcase her abilities.

I'd say that her role in Luther season 2 is her highest profile part familiar to stateside audiences thus far; but I can't say just how much that has raised awareness of her, and thus whether she's now being presented with even more opportunities on this side of the pond. According to her IMDB resume, she has nothing on the horizon.

In researching the actress, I found the below 11-minute showreel of hers, which highlights her performances over the years; and while I haven't been privileged enough to watch every single one of these TV series and films, there's enough within the reel (and if you include Luther) to show just how much of a presence she is on screen, and an actress I'd love to see more of in the future.

In the meantime, I'll be going through her entire resume so that I can check out every work listed that I have access to; and I encourage you all to do the same, if you aren't familiar.

And as for her thoughts on our ongoing discussion about the so-called "burden of representation," I found this quote from Ms Amuka-Bird in an interview she did last year with Soul Culture:

“I think as an actor you don’t want to feel you have this responsibility to show black people in a certain light. You want to just be an actor, be a human being; not necessarily a person of colour. But then it’s a balancing act because you don’t want to be typecast. You do have to think about the roles you’re taking on but you need the freedom to express yourself as an artist first and foremost... I’m aware that it’s still news if there are more than four companies of black actors doing plays at the same time or that Idris Elba is Luther. I think whether you’re black or white you should be allowed to play any character – morally ambiguous or not. There is universality; whether you’re black or white we still face the same issues. More than anything our job as actors is to show the colour of our skin doesn’t matter.”

I certainly hope she returns for season 3 of Luther; without giving too much away for those who haven't watched season 2 yet... let's just say she's kind of a foil to Idris' DCI John Luther. But I love her character's combined toughness and vulnerability, as well as ambition in this, especially as she's really the only black woman represented in the starring cast. I can only wonder where her relationship with Luther could go in successive seasons; and if she'd play any part in a feature film, if one ever gets made.

We'll work on getting an interview with her.

In the meantime, watch her 11-minute showreel below, and go seek out her past work:


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6 Comments

  • michelle | October 28, 2011 4:20 AMReply

    I remember her from 'Don't shoot the messanger' with David Oyelewo and the adapation of 'Small Island' with David and Naomie Harris. Always liked her.

  • Shannon | October 28, 2011 2:24 AMReply

    I really like the job that she's doing on Luther. I see the portrayal of her character as being quite realistic, someone who follows her instincts, wants to do the best job, and but is rightfully wary of the highest-ranking officer on her team.

  • Uncredited Rewrite | October 28, 2011 2:20 AMReply

    I agree with k8dee she was amazing in Torchwood, but if you really want to see her shine check out the show Survivors (should be available on Netflix instant streaming). She kind of plays the Mary McDonnell role from Battlestar Galactica, but much more brutal.

  • Marie | October 27, 2011 5:59 AMReply

    Nothing against the actress, but, I don't like the fact that as the only Black woman on the cast, she is written as surly all the time. AND, that she is Luther's foil. Every other woman, including the serial kiler and child prostitute, seem to be written more favorably than she is. Not a good look.

  • k8dee | October 27, 2011 5:37 AMReply

    I always know her for that amazing turn she did in that one episode of Torchwood. She was amazing and incredibly memorable.

  • starfishncoffee | October 27, 2011 5:17 AMReply

    I saw Coriolanus which, by the way, is very good...she's in it VERY briefly. One scene actually. She does a good job, but she doesn't make a huge impact. But you do have to take into account that the cast for that movie is pretty big.

    If I go into too many details about her role it'll give away spoilers, but a CNN-like tv network is used as a device to move the plot forward, and she plays a pundit on a news talk-show discussing events in the film. It's small, but significant.

    I like her a lot. She's also involved in another really interesting multi-platform sci fi project where her role is much bigger called Resonance with Aidan Turner and Charles Dance that I hope actually makes it to the screen. www.willyouhelp.co.uk/

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