Meet 'Selma' actress Carmen Ejogo

England's greatest loss to America since, well, America

Say hello to Carmen Ejogo. Now say goodbye.

Brought up in London, the 41-year-old actress moved permanently to New York 14 years ago. Don’t worry, though, she keeps a little place in Ladbroke Grove, just in case she gets homesick. Or the cravings get too bad. “I really miss great fish and chips, and really good bangers – you can’t get them in New York.”

This month, the career of England's loss, and America's gain, is growing exponentially. Ejogo is about to star as Martin Luther King Jr’s wife, Coretta Scott King, in Selma, the Oscar-tipped film depicting the Alabama protest marches of the mid-Sixties and the aftermath.

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“I’ve played Coretta once before,” she says of this daunting role, “and she was still alive at the time, so I had the privilege to meet her. She was this incredibly powerful, austere presence that you felt you kind of had to bow down to.”

A former model and talented singer (check out the rave reviews for the recent remake of 1976's girl-group movie Sparkle), Ejogo has previously starred in high-octane thrillers Alex Cross and The Purge: Anarchy. “I just like mixing it up,” she explains, “that’s what excites me. To be stuck in a TV show for seven years would be the most awful thing.”

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Her next appearance will be alongside Ethan Hawke’s “intriguing take” on jazz trumpeter Chet Baker in Born To Be Blue, though later down the line she has action in her sights. “Let’s give a girl a chance to do what the boys have been doing recently,” she says, “like Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man. That would be the next frontier.”

We’re certainly up for Ejogo giving the Hollywood big guns a run for their money. As long as she remembers to visit.  

Selma is out in cinemas today (6 February)

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