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Zawe Ashton
Zawe Ashton 2013.jpg
Ashton in December 2013
Zawedde Ashton

(1984-07-25) 25 July 1984 (age 36)
Hackney, London, England
OccupationActress, playwright, director and narrator
Years active1995–present

Zawe Ashton[1] (/ˈzɑːwi/;[2] born 25 July 1984) is an English actress, playwright, director and narrator best known for her roles in Channel 4 comedy dramas Fresh Meat and Not Safe for Work and her portrayal of Joyce Carol Vincent in Dreams of a Life. She will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a role in The Marvels, expected in 2022.

Early life

Ashton was born in Hackney, London, on 25 July 1984.[3] She is the eldest of three children born to a Ugandan mother, Victoria,[4] and an English father, Paul Ashton.[5] She attended the Anna Scher Theatre School from the age of six and was a member of the National Youth Theatre. She gained her degree in acting at the Manchester School of Theatre.[6][7] Her maternal grandfather, Paulo Muwanga, was formerly President and Prime Minister of Uganda.[8]



Her theatre credits include Harold Pinter's Betrayal at The Harold Pinter Theatre, London and the Bernard B. Jacob's Theatre, Broadway. 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), Michael Frayn's comedy Here (The Rose Theatre Kingston), Abi Morgan’s Splendour (Donmar Warehouse), John Genet's The Maids (Trafalgar Studios), Salome in Salome (Headlong Theatre / Hampstead Theatre). In June 2010 Ashton was awarded 2nd prize at the Ian Charleson Awards for her classical performance in Salome.

Her film credits include Velvet Buzzsaw directed by Dan Gilroy for Netflix, Dreams of a Life directed by Carol Morley, for which she was nominated in the Most Promising Newcomer category at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards, St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, Blitz, Nocturnal Animals, directed by Tom Ford, Greta directed by Neil Jordan.

Her TV credits include Vod in the Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat: Claire in the six-part BBC One / Netflix series Wanderlust.[9] Journey Blue in Doctor Who, BBC. Katherine in Not Safe For Work for Channel 4.

In 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.[citation needed] 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. In February 2021 it was announced that she would play a villain in The Marvels. It is scheduled to be released on 11 November 2022.[10]


Ashton began entering poetry slams at the age of seventeen,[6] and won the London Poetry Slam Championship in 2000.[11] In 2006 she was Young Writer in Residence at the Contact Theatre in Manchester.[11] Her first play, Harm's Way, was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award in 2007,[6] 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).[12] Ashton was co-writer of, Bush Futures Programme. One of her plays, For all the Women Who Thought They Were Mad, was selected to be part of the Royal Court Playwriting Festival in 2009.[7][11] 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.[13] She has worked with the Bush Theatre and the Clean Break theatre company.[14]

In 2019, Ashton published her first book, Character Breakdown, a fictionalized memoir based on her experiences as an actress.[15]

Other work

Ashton narrated thirteen episodes of 24 Hours in Police Custody, shown on Channel 4 in 2016 and 2017.[citation needed] She narrated a documentary Public Enemies: Jay-Z vs Kanye for the same channel in 2017.[citation needed]

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.[16][17]


Year Title Role Venue Notes
2007 Othello by William Shakespeare Bianca The Globe London[18]
Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco Daisy Royal Court London[19]
The Arsonists by Max Frisch Anna
The Cage by Deborah Gearing Nicola Nuffield Theatre Southampton[20]
2008 Gone Too Far! by Bola Agbaje Armani Royal Court London[21]
The Front Line by Ché Walker Casey The Globe London[22]
2009 All The Little Things We Crushed by Joel Horwood Zoe Almeida Theatre Original Off-West End production[23][circular reference]
This Wide Night by Chloë Moss Marie Soho Theatre Original Off-West End production[24]
2010 Salome by Oscar Wilde Salome Curve Theatre Leicester[25]
2012 Here by Michael Frayn Cath Rose Theatre Kingston, London revival[26]
2015 Splendour by Abi Morgan Gilma Donmar Warehouse London revival[27][28]
2016 The Maids by Jean Genet Claire Trafalgar Studios West End revival[29]
2018 The Hardest Rain by Zawe Ashton n/a The Old Vic London; part of the One Voice series of monologues[29]
2019 For All the Women Who Thought They Were Mad by Zawe Ashton Hackney Showroom Original London production[30]
Soho Repertory Theatre Off-Broadway transfer[31]
2019 Betrayal by Harold Pinter Emma Harold Pinter Theatre West End revival[32]
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre Broadway transfer[33]



Year Title Role Notes
2009 St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold Bianca
2011 Blitz WPC Elizabeth Falls
Weekender Sarah
Dreams of a Life Joyce Vincent
2016 Nocturnal Animals Alex
2018 Greta Alexa Hammond
2019 Velvet Buzzsaw Josephina
2022 The Marvels TBA Filming
TBA Mr. Malcolm's List Julia Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Game On Little Girl
1 episode
2003 Holby City Abigail Meredith 1 episode
2007 Mobile Eyewitness 1 episode
2008 The Bill Becka Adams 1 episode
2009 Casualty Gina 1 episode
2010 Sherlock Sally Donovan 1 episode (unaired pilot)
Misfits Jessica 1 episode
2011–2013 Case Histories Deborah Arnold 8 episodes
2011–2016 Fresh Meat Violet "Vod" Nordstrom Main cast
30 episodes
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
6 episodes
The Devil You Know Shony Tales 1 pilot episode (HBO)[34]
2017 Guerrilla Omega
Sarah & Duck Hairdresser 1 episode (Series 3 Episode 21: "Hair Cut")
2018 Wanderlust Claire Pascal TV series
2021 The Handmaid's Tale Oona TV series


  1. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (29 September 2012). "Zawe Ashton: 'The views expressed here are not my own'". The Independent. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Zawe Ashton | 8 Minutes With The Pool | Women We Love". The Pool. 17 August 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  3. ^ @ZaweAshton (21 July 2013). "Its officially the 25th" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Heawood, Sophie (16 January 2016). "'I always play extreme characters': Zawe Ashton on life after Fresh Meat". The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b c Williams, Karla (June 2009). "ATN Interview with Zawe Ashton, The Frontline". Afridiziak Theatre News. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  7. ^ a b Bourke, Kevin (28 March 2008). "Into Harm's Way". City Life. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  8. ^ Heawood, Sophie (16 January 2016). "'I always play extreme characters': Zawe Ashton on life after Fresh Meat". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Szalai, Georg (7 November 2017). "Toni Collette Leads Cast of BBC, Netflix's 'Wanderlust'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  10. ^ Blessing, Ethan (12 February 2021). "Zawe Ashton Joins Brie Larson in 'Captain Marvel 2'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Agency Listing - Zawe Ashton The Rod Hall Agency Limited. Retrieved on 17 August 2009.
  12. ^ "LIFT 2010 leaflet" (PDF). Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  13. ^ "The Children's Monologues". Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  14. ^ Zawe Ashton | Features | Screen Retrieved on 17 August 2009.
  15. ^ Hayes, Martha (3 March 2019). "'I hate talking about class': Zawe Ashton on acting, privilege and being bullied". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Random Acts - Episode Guide". Channel 4. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Random Acts". Arts Council England. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Othello / Shakespeare's Globe". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  19. ^ Benedict, David (14 November 2007). "The Arsonists". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  20. ^ "THE CAGE - deborah gearing - playwright". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  21. ^ Billington, Michael (29 July 2008). "Gone Too Far!". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  22. ^ "The FrontLine". 8 June 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  23. ^ Joel Horwood
  24. ^ Gardner, Lyn (27 November 2009). "This Wide Night - Theatre review". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  25. ^ Hickling, Alfred (13 May 2010). "Salome - Theatre review". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  26. ^ Billington, Michael (30 April 2012). "Here – review". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  27. ^ Billington, Michael (5 August 2015). "Splendour review – Abi Morgan puts four women in the firing line". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Splendour (Donmar Warehouse)". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  29. ^ a b "Monologues, Storytelling and the Science of Generosity - The Old Vic". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  30. ^ "For All the Women Who Thought They Were Mad". Hackney Showroom. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  31. ^ Clement, Olivia (4 September 2019). "Soho Rep. Unveils 2019–2020 Season". Playbill. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  32. ^ Wood, Alex (10 January 2019). "Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox cast in Betrayal with Tom Hiddleston | WhatsOnStage". Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  33. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy (14 August 2019). "Betrayal Arrives on Broadway with Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton & Charlie Cox | Broadway.Com". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  34. ^ Lazarus, Susanna (15 March 2015). "Karen Gillan, Damien Molony and Zawe Ashton join new HBO series from OITNB creator". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 April 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 May 2021, at 11:34
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