Introducing The New Eliza Doolittle and Cover Star of Tatler's May Issue, Amara Okereke
Those vowels come from Leeds, where Okereke was raised, the only child of ‘very busy, full-time’ doctors, she says. ‘My parents grew up in Nigeria. They didn’t have the opportunities that I had… so they thought, let’s expose her to as much as possible. I did school sports, gymnastics, athletics. But dance was the thing I liked the most.’ Initially, though, she was so full of energy that ‘it was just a thing to keep me busy and not running around the house constantly’, she grins.
It was a warm and vibrant childhood: ‘Storytelling and art are a big part of my family history. We have a lot of singers – my family is quite religious, there are a lot of church singers. Music comes very naturally, even if it has not been pursued properly. But my mum’s love of theatre was passed down to me.’
‘I am proud of my community, my ethnicity, my race. I’m a proud and loud black woman, but I’m not in black spaces a lot of the time. To have the black theatre community reach out to me and say, “Hey, we see you!” “Hey, we’re proud of you” – that was a big moment. It makes me feel a bit emotional. It makes me feel happy, proud of myself. Normally, I don’t do well with pride. I usually try and stay away from it.’
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