Jamaican People to Watch: Angela Jarrett

A lady of many talents is how Kingston based actress Angela Jarrett describes herself, but if you are thinking she sounds a little over confident, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact the quiet unassuming actress is genuinely proud of her achievements. It was only earlier this year she was nominated for an Actor Boy award for her role as Nicey in Basil Dawkins’ “What the Hell is Happening To Us Dear?”. But, as any one who chooses the actor’s life will testify, good roles are few and far between. So Angela is making use of her spare time by reverting to her other great love - writing.

She says: “I write because I’m pleased with what I get out of it. I know I have a good story when sometimes I don’t remember to eat, because I am so lost in my work. I want to carry on writing until I die. I see myself as a lady of many talents.”

At the moment she is involved in a project writing scripts for the Jamaican Family Planning Board, and she is also hoping to write for radio again. She has already enjoyed success on the radio with “Ma B’s Family”, which she wrote and produced for two years.

She says: “I was in it as an actress. The writer migrated and they asked me if I would like to write”.

Angela says her biggest writing influence is Louise Bennett, who she admires for writing in Patois, She is very proud of her Jamaican heritage and the Jamaican dialect, and in fact has had two poems of her own published in Patois.

But although Angela sees herself as a writer who acts, rather than an actor who writes, her other career is still at the forefront of her life. She has thought hard about taking roles in her own plays, but for the time being she is keen to ensure her writing is completed before she thinks about taking on roles. She is adamant nothing will interfere with her work.

She received rave reviews for her role in “What the Hell is Happening to us Dear?” with reviewers describing her as the star of the play and saying she was one of the two actors to create the most impact.

She was not too disappointed about not getting the Actor Boy award, saying she was just happy to enjoy the ceremony. Although awards are important, pleasing audiences is more so, she says.

And it is not her first nomination at the annual awards either – in 1993, her play “Something Fishy” was awarded Best First Play. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and her leading man, Peter Heslop, was nominated for the Best Actor award.

She is currently just happy to be back on the Jamaican scene, having recently spent a number of seasons performing in Britain with the Blue Mountain Theatre Company. And she says there is a big difference between Jamaican and British audiences.

She says: “British audiences are quite easy to please, probably because they’ve been away from the culture so long they are eager and hungry for it. Many have been away for 25 years, and it’s not like in America where you can just jump on a plane and you’re in Jamaica. Jamaican audiences are not so easy to please. They say when you can please a Jamaican audience then you know you are good.”

And pleasing her audience is something Angela has no problem with at the moment, with other recent roles including her critically acclaimed performance in a CVM TV film about incest called Hope Deferred.

With her career well underway, she may even find herself emulating the success of two of her heroes – film director Alfred Hitchcock and actor Anthony Hopkins, who she says can do no wrong in her eyes.

She is beginning to re-establish herself in Jamaica, and says: “I’ve been off the Jamaican scene a while, and the Actor Boy nomination was a nice welcome. It’s good to be back.”