She has received acclaim for her work in theatre. Jumbo received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for playing Mark Antony in Julius Caesar in 2013, and also wrote and performed in the play Josephine and I. She was awarded an Evening Standard Theatre Award for her one-woman show, and reprised her performance Off-Broadway in 2015. Jumbo made her Broadway debut in Jez Butterworth's The River in 2014, and received her second Olivier nomination upon her 2021 return to the London stage as Hamlet.
Jumbo was born in King's College Hospital in the Denmark Hill section of London to parents Angela (née Hall) and Marx Jumbo. Her mother is British and her father is Nigerian. The second of six children, she grew up in Lewisham and Southwark. She began dance classes at the age of 3, learning tap, ballet and modern, and went on to learn street dance, contemporary, ballroom, and Latin in later years. As a child, she attended Adamsrill Primary School in Sydenham. From the age of 11 to 15, she trained at the Francis Cooper School of Dance whilst attending Cator Park School for Girls, but at 14 she left Cator Park to pursue acting more seriously at the BRIT School in Croydon. She graduated with a first from the BA (Hons) Acting course at Central School of Speech and Drama before starting her career. She considered undertaking teacher training in London before finally settling on a career as an actress.
Jumbo's theatre credits include Brixton Stories at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, Liquid Gold at the Almeida and Love's Labour's Lost at Shakespeare's Globe. She has also appeared in productions of The Cherry Orchard, The Crucible, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Richard III and Pygmalion at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester for which she received MEN and Ian Charleson Award nominations. In 2012 she won the Ian Charleson Award for her performance as Rosalind in William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. Clare Brennan of The Guardian spoke of Jumbo's performance in As You Like It saying "If these performances truly reflect her talent, Jumbo looks set to become one of the best actresses of her generation". Jumbo played Constance Neville in She Stoops to Conquer at the National Theatre in 2012 and Mark Antony in an all female production of Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse for which she received a nomination for an Olivier Award. She took part again in the production when it was revived in New York in October 2013. In May 2013, she played the role of Nora in A Doll's House at the Royal Exchange Theatre. In October 2013 she won a UK Theatre Award for this performance.
In July and August 2013, Jumbo performed in her own debut play Josephine and I, a one-woman play about jazz singer Josephine Baker, which premiered at the Bush Theatre, London. She won an Emerging Talent Award at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards in November 2013 for this performance. The show was developed for transfer and began previews on 27 February 2015 at The Public Theater in New York.
She made her Broadway debut in the autumn of 2014 when she appeared in the transfer of the Royal Court Theatre production of The River by Jez Butterworth, alongside Laura Donnelly and Hugh Jackman.
Jumbo is the co-author of 101 Dance Ideas for 5–11 yr Olds which is published by A & C Black.
On television, Jumbo has appeared in My Family, Harley Street, as receptionist Hannah Fellows, as Lois Habiba in all five episodes of Torchwood: Children of Earth, as Becky on BBC Three's drama series Lip Service, Casualty and as Nurse Damaris in Getting On Series 2 and 3, written by Jo Brand, Jo Scanlon and Vicki Pepperdine in which she was directed by fellow Torchwood actor Peter Capaldi. She appeared as DC Bethany Whelan in series 2 of ITV's Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and returned to the show for series 5, broadcast in 2015, and for episode 1 of series 6 in 2016. She has also appeared several times on BBC Radio 4 in dramas and as a guest on the panel show Dilemma. She became a regular cast member in the 2015–2016 season of the CBS series The Good Wife until the series ended in 2016. She reprised her role in the series' spin-off The Good Fight. On 29 May 2020 Jumbo announced that she is departing the series after four seasons.
In October 2021, Jumbo played the title role in a production of Hamlet at the Young Vic Theatre in London, directed by Greg Hersof. The Guardian's Arifa Akbar praised her interpretation of the character as a "clear-eyed son" in a performance of "shining clarity". In 2022, she received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress and Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Shakespearean Performance.
|2011||The Inbetweeners Movie||Jaime|
|2016||City of Tiny Lights||Melody Chase|
|2020||The Postcard Killings||Dessie Lombard|
|2007||My Family||Girlfriend||Episode: "Dutch Art and Dutch Courage"|
|2008||Harley Street||Hannah Fellows||6 episodes|
|2009||Torchwood||Lois Habiba||Main cast (series 3: Children of Earth)|
|Casualty||Zara Finchley||Episode: "Every Breath You Take"|
|2010||Lip Service||Becky Love||6 episodes|
|Getting On||Damaris||5 episodes|
|2012, 2015–2016||Vera||DC Bethany Whelan||Main cast (series 2, 5–6)|
|2015–2016||The Good Wife||Lucca Quinn||Main cast (season 7)|
|2017–2021||The Good Fight||Main cast (season 1-4), Guest (Season 5)|
|2020||Deadwater Fell||Jess Milner||TV miniseries|
|2021||The Beast Must Die||Frances Cairnes||TV miniseries|
|TBA||Criminal Record||Detective Sgt. June Lenker||Main role, upcoming series|
Awards and nominations
|2011||Ian Charleson Award||Best Performance in a Play||As You Like It||Won|
|2013||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Julius Caesar||Nominated|
|Evening Standard Theatre Award||Emerging Talent||Josephine and I||Won|
|UK Theatre Award||Best Performance in a Play||A Doll's House||Won|
|2018||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||The Good Fight||Nominated|
|2022||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Actress||Hamlet||Nominated|
|Critics' Circle Theatre Award||Best Shakespearean Performance||Won|
- "One-woman show with a cast; Cush Jumbo soars in a solid Ibsen revival, says Dominic Maxwell; Theatre." Times [London, England] 9 May 2013: 10. Academic OneFile. Web. 19 Mar 201
- Henderson, Kathy (13 November 2014). "Cush Jumbo on Her Unusual Name, Her New Buddy Hugh Jackman & Starring in the 'Shocking' Drama The River". Broadway.com.
- Shore, Robert (11 July 2013). "My childhood idol Josephine Baker saved my career". Metro.
- Day, Elizabeth (24 November 2012). "'I'm not interested in being in Heat magazine'". The Guardian.
- "Theatre on the Fly Opens FRED'S DINER, August 15". Broadwayworld.com. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
- "Harley Street Press Pack" (DOC). ITV. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
- "Olivier awards 2013 – full nominations". The Guardian. 26 March 2013.
- Youngs, Ian (24 November 2012). "This Is My Family musical wins two UK Theatre Awards". London: BBC.
- "Bush Theatre". Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- Sebastian Shakespeare, "Londoner's Diary", London Evening Standard, 8 August 2013
- Jury, Louis (17 November 2013). "Dame Helen Mirren crowned best actress at Evening Standard Theatre Awards". London Evening Standard. London.
- Phyllida, Lloyd (27 April 2014). "Me and Meryl Streep, by Phyllida Lloyd". The Yorkshire Post. Leeds.
- Merrfield, Niccola (9 May 2014). "Hugh Jackman, Cush Jumbo and Laura Donnelly to star in The River on Broadway". The Stage. London.
- "Perfect Pitch Music Musicals – Rebels and Retail". Archived from the original on 4 July 2009.
- Petski, Denise (29 May 2020). "Cush Jumbo Exiting 'The Good Fight' Ahead Of Season 5". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- Akbar, Arifa (5 October 2021). "Hamlet review – Cush Jumbo is a remarkable prince". The Guardian. p. 17. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
- Frost, Caroline (3 April 2022). ""Cabaret" Takes Top Honors At Critics Circle Theatre Awards: Jessie Buckley, Ben Daniels, Cush Jumbo Win Acting Prizes". Deadline. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
- Martin, Annie. "'The Good Fight' star Cush Jumbo expecting first child". upi.com. United Press International, Inc. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
- Juneau, Jen. "The Good Fight's Cush Jumbo Welcomes Son Maximilian". people.com. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
- "Birthday Honours List — United Kingdom". The London Gazette (Supplement). No. 62666. 8 June 2019. p. B12.