An actor who grew up in Leamington and whose talent was nurtured in the town has spoken of her excitement at making her debut at the RSC.
Amelia Donkor will play Silvia in As You Like It and Hortensia in The Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre over the coming months.
And for the former North Leam pupil, it’s the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.
Amelia said: “It’s been my not so secret wish to work for the RSC for a long time, and I’m thrilled that I’m making my debut.
“Rehearsals have been an absolute joy and I just can’t wait for opening night.”
Amelia made the most of the opportunities at North Leam when it attained ‘arts college’ status, taking GCSEs in drama, music and dance.
“We had loads of after school arts activities that I was a part of,” said Amelia, “and my drama teacher - who recommended I audition for the National Youth Theatre - was a big part of my route to becoming an actor.”
And outside school, Amelia found another source of inspiration in the town.
She said: “I was at the Loft Theatre every Saturday morning and absolutely loved it.
“One year me and some of the other kids were picked to be in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I only had one line which I’m pretty sure was ‘Yes Miss’, but I was so worried that I couldn’t do a Scottish accent. I think I’ve got a bit better at accents these days – but not much!”
Living so close to Stratford also had its advantages for one so keen on theatre.
“The RSC was an absolute treat day out when I was growing up,” said Amelia. “I still have a lot of the programmes of the many shows I watched.
“I enjoyed seeing plays but most of all I loved the open days and activities. Meeting actors and trying on costumes, getting the chance to speak a bit of Shakespeare with the professionals was amazing. The little girl in me is pretty excited that now I’m one of those professionals!”
And moving into acting as a job came naturally for Amelia.
She said: “I was lucky enough to have great teachers and family and support to get into the acting world. It’s a kind of crazy decision to go to drama school at 18, but everyone got behind me.
“I don’t know if I ever really made the decision to become an actor, I just went with the flow and I’m still with it!”
Amelia, who now lives in London, hopes to make the most of her return to the county. She said: “I’ve got family all over Warwickshire and I’m hoping they’ll all be coming to see the shows I am in. My mum’s already booked multiple tickets! Plus I’ll have plenty of people to visit on my Sundays off, so it’s going to be a busy summer.
“I have so many memories of growing up in Leamington, but mostly all of the beautiful outdoor spaces. I’ll be visiting Jephson Gardens and Victoria Park a lot when I’m back.”
Amelia has worked mainly in theatre since graduating from LAMDA. She has managed to get herself into most television soaps, such as East-Enders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, but says her “heart is with the theatre and all the live magic”.
And she is excited at the possibilities afforded by her forthcoming roles.
Amelia said: “Silvia and Hortensia are very different in style and status, but equally as challenging and fun to play.
“For me, what’s most exciting about both characters is that they are originally written as men. This opens up a whole new world of storytelling and innovation, and we’re breathing new life into these great classics.”
As You Like It runs from Thursday, February 14, and The Taming of the Shrew from March 8, both until August 31.
Call 01789 331111 or visit rsc.org.uk to book.