Ashton in December 2013
21 July 1984
Hackney, London, England
|Occupation||Actress, playwright, director|
Zawedde "Zawe" Ashton (//; born 25 July 1984) is an English actress, playwright and director best known for her roles in Channel 4 comedy dramas Not Safe for Work and Fresh Meat. Other credits include the feature films Blitz and St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold.
Ashton was born in Hackney, London, the eldest of three children born to a Ugandan mother, Victoria, and an English father, Paul Ashton, both teachers; her father later worked for the BBC and for Channel 4 as a Commissioning Editor. Her maternal grandfather, Paulo Muwanga, was President and Prime Minister of Uganda. She attended the Anna Scher Theatre School and was a member of the National Youth Theatre. She attended both William Patten and Thornhill Primary schools. For secondary education, Ashton attended both Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Parliament Hill Schools. She studied at the City and Islington College, then at the Manchester School of Theatre, where she gained a degree in acting.
Ashton attended the Anna Scher Theatre, after school junior classes, and later became a member of the Anna Scher YPs (Young Professionals). As a teenager, in the late 1990s she starred in a BBC2 science show Science in Action as one of the three curious children.
Her theatre credits include Rhinoceros, The Arsonists, Gone Too Far! (Royal Court), Othello (Globe Theatre), Frontline (Globe Theatre), All The Little Things We Crushed (Almeida), This Wide Night (Soho Theatre), The Cage (Nuffield Theatre Company, Southampton) and Michael Frayn's comedy Here at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, Abi Morgan's Splendour (Donmar) and Genet's The Maids (Trafalgar Studios). In June 2010 Ashton was awarded 2nd prize at the Ian Charleson Awards for her classical performance in Salome (Headlong Theatre).
In 2009, she appeared in St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold. She was named as one of Screen International's Stars of Tomorrow 2009. Two years later she appeared alongside Jason Statham in the film Blitz and with Jason Isaacs in the television adaptation of Kate Atkinson's Case Histories. In 2011, Ashton starred in the BBC Christmas show Lapland. She also starred as Joyce Carol Vincent in the film Dreams of a Life in the same year, for which she was nominated in the Most Promising Newcomer category at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards.
Ashton was named in May 2010 as one of the "55 faces of the future" by Nylon magazine's Young Hollywood Issue. In October 2012, she was awarded the "Ultimate Newcomer" trophy by Cosmopolitan magazine at their Women of the Year awards. In November 2012 Ashton picked up the Creative Diversity Network Award for Best Breakthrough On-Screen Talent for her role as Vod in the BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 hit Fresh Meat. In 2013 Ashton won a Screen Nation Award for Female Performance in a Film 2012/2013, in recognition of her lead role performance in Dreams of a Life.
Ashton began entering poetry slams at the age of seventeen, and won the London Poetry Slam Championship in 2000. In 2006 she was Young Writer in Residence at the Contact Theatre in Manchester. Her first play, Harm's Way, was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award in 2007, and premiered at the Lowry, Salford in 2008 as part of the National Youth Theatre’s new writing season. Her other plays have included Skunk, performed by the National Youth Theatre and Soho Theatre; and She from the Sea, performed in 2010 at the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). Ashton was co-writer of Suddenlossofdignity.com, Bush Futures Programme. One of her plays, For all Those Women who Thought they were Mad, was selected to be part of the Royal Court Playwriting Festival in 2009. Ashton contributed to the writing of The Children's Monologues, adapted from over 300 original stories by Tswana, Zulu and Sesotho children in South Africa and presented by Dramatic Need in 2010. She has worked with the Bush Theatre and the Clean Break theatre company.
Ashton narrated thirteen episodes of 24 Hours in Police Custody, shown on Channel 4 in 2016 and 2017. She narrated a documentary Public Enemies: Jay-Z vs Kanye for the same channel in 2017.
In 2017, Ashton presented the third series of Random Acts, Channel 4's short film showcase in association with Arts Council England. Episode 2 included a film directed by Ashton, in which she took the lead role.
|2007||Othello by William Shakespeare||Bianca||The Globe (London)|
|2007||Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco||Daisy||Royal Court, (London)|
|2007||The Arsonists by Max Frisch||Anna||Royal Court (London)|
|2007||The Cage by Deborah Gearing||Nicola||Nuffield Theatre (Southampton)|
|2008||Gone Too Far! by Bola Agbaje||Armani||Royal Court (London)|
|2008||The Front Line by Ché Walker||Casey||The Globe (London)|
|2009||All The Little Things We Crushed by Joel Horwood||Zoe||Almeida Theatre (London)|
|2009||This Wide Night by Chloë Moss||Marie||Soho Theatre (London)|
|2010||Salome by Oscar Wilde||Salome||Curve Theatre (Leicester)|
|2012||Here by Michael Frayn||Cath||Rose Theatre (Kingston, London)|
|2015||Splendour by Abi Morgan||Gilma||Donmar Warehouse (London)|
|2016||The Maids by Jean Genet||Claire||Trafalgar Studios (London)|
|2018||The Hardest Rain by Zawe Ashton (Part of the One Voice series of monologues)||n/a||The Old Vic (London)|
|2018-2019 (TBC)||For All the Women Who Thought They Were Mad by Zawe Ashton||n/a||Hackney Showroom (London)|
|2009||St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold||Bianca|
|2011||Blitz||WPC Elizabeth Falls|
|Dreams of a Life||Joyce Vincent|
|2018||Velvet Buzzsaw||Josephina||In post-production|
|1995||Game On||Little Girl
|2003||Holby City||Abigail Meredith||1 episode|
|2008||The Bill||Becka Adams||1 episode|
|2010||Sherlock||Sally Donavan||1 episode (unaired pilot)|
|2011–2013||Case Histories||Deborah Arnold||8 episodes|
|2011–2016||Fresh Meat||Violet "Vod" Nordstrom||Main cast
|2011||Lapland||Jingle Jill||1 episode|
|2014||Doctor Who||Journey Blue||1 episode (Series 8 Episode 2: "Into the Dalek")|
|2015||Not Safe For Work||Katherine||Lead character
|2015||The Devil You Know||Pilot|
|2017||Sarah & Duck||Hairdresser||1 episode (Series 3 Episode 21: "Hair Cut")|
- Gilbert, Gerard (29 September 2012). "Zawe Ashton: 'The views expressed here are not my own'". The Independent. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "The cast of Fresh Meat at the Cosmopolitan Ultimare Women Awards 2011". YouTube. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- Adewummi, Bim (4 November 2013). "Fresh Meat's Zawe Ashton, AKA Vod, is the coolest thing on TV right now". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Heawood, Sophie (16 January 2016). "'I always play extreme characters': Zawe Ashton on life after Fresh Meat" – via The Guardian.
- Williams, Karla (June 2009). "ATN Interview with Zawe Ashton, The Frontline". Afridiziak Theatre News. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
- Bourke, Kevin (28 March 2008). "Into Harm's Way". City Life. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
- Zawe Ashton | Features | Screen Retrieved on 17 August 2009.
- "Full Casting for Recently Completed 'Blitz'". BloodyDisgusting.com. 13 October 2009.
- "BBC One commissions new six part comedy series, Lapland". BBC. BBC Online. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- Catherine Morshead (director), Rosemary McGowan (producer) (24 December 2011). "Lapland (24 December 2011)". Lapland. BBC. BBC One.
- Dadds, Kimberley (31 October 2012). "Cosmopolitan Awards: Zawe Ashton shows off her winning assets in daring plunging gown". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- Agency Listing - Zawe Ashton The Rod Hall Agency Limited. Retrieved on 17 August 2009.
- "LIFT 2010 leaflet" (PDF). www.liftfest.org.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- "Random Acts - Episode Guide". Channel 4. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
- "Random Acts". Arts Council England. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
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