In November last year, Timmika Ramsay started her run as Cinderella in Lyric Hammersmith in their 2019 pantomime of Cinderella, and before this, she had recently finished touring with Madagascar the Musical as Gloria. Timmika’s first role after graduating from Rose Bruford College in 2017 was on screen in Enterprice, and later this year, she will be appearing as Sabelle across all four episodes of new Channel 4 series Adult Material. Continuing work as a singer-songwriter, Timmika has plans to release original music in the future. Recently, Timmika chatted about playing Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith, touring as Gloria in Madagascar the Musical and filming for Adult Material.
How was your time playing Cinderella in the Lyric Hammersmith pantomime Cinderella last Christmas?
It was a blast, such a whirlwind. It was incredibly difficult but we had so much fun and the cast and crew were like one big family. It was tiring but when you hear all of the children screaming, singing and dancing it makes every moment worth it.
What was it like booking the role and being part of the cast?
I was really excited when I learned that I got the role. I think that it was quite groundbreaking, I know I have never seen a black plus size Cinderella so I think it was really important for me to play that role. It was a great message of accepting who you are, and no matter what you look like or where you come from, you can be whatever you want to be. The cast were phenomenal and a lot of them had done pantomimes before, I learned so much from them. I’m really grateful that I was able to work with such powerful and talented people, we always had each other’s backs when we were tired and when the twelfth show felt impossible.
There were posters of yourself advertising the show, what was it like seeing them around London?
I was like oh my God, mama, I made it. It was kind of weird and surreal but it was also something that I had dreamed of since being a child. You know you dream of the posters in the lights but it didn’t feel how I imagined it to feel. I felt a lot of pressure and thought ‘I hope the show is good because the promotion is amazing’. It was lovely getting pictures from my family and my friends who were just going about their business and saw my face. My family were so proud. Also, it didn’t look like your typical Cinderella which I loved.
This was your pantomime debut, what did you enjoy most about performing in the production?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when doing a panto! But it goes so fast that you just have to go with it! I really enjoyed singing popular songs with the cast! It felt like a concert when all of the kids would sing along and dance. My favourite thing about performing was seeing all the young black girls’ faces light up because they finally felt seen. They saw themselves in me which is really special and something I will take into the rest of my career. Whenever I felt tired (because panto is exhausting), I would remember that there’s a little black girl out there that would be inspired by seeing me give my all in this performance.
You toured the UK with Madagascar the Musical, can you tell us about appearing in the show?
Madagascar was so much fun! I had the most amazing cast and crew. Everyone was sweet and funny, we were one big family. I played the part of Gloria, she was sassy, fabulous and kind. She is the most like me out of all the characters I’ve played, which is funny because she’s a hippo. I loved playing her every day because I kind of got to play myself in a hippo costume.
This was a show where it was different every night!! We had to stay on our toes because the jokes would always change! Sometimes they would be so funny that we would have to stop ourselves from laughing and stay in character. It was a fun and exhausting experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
What was the music and choreography like to learn?
Learning the music was fun but intense. It was the first time I had to learn harmonies and look at sheet music since before I started drama school. I had to work really hard at home to make sure I remembered everything. The dancing was one of the best parts of the show for me. I loved working with Fabian Aloise, he was fabulous! He would push us to our limits. He made us feel like we could do it but if he saw that we weren’t trying our hardest, he would let us have it! (In the best way).
Dancing in the rehearsal room was hard, but when we had to put on our massive costumes and work around big puppets, it was even harder. We had to have a lot of special awareness and stamina. I would come off the stage every night and all three layers I was wearing would be soaked with sweat. Gross, I know, god bless our costume department.
How did you find touring with a show for the first time?
It was really difficult for me. I love to be at home with my family and my partner. When you’re touring, you don’t get to see them that much. Some people would go months without going home but I made sure I went home every chance I could, which costs but you have to do what is best for you and your mental health. I was lucky that the cast were so lovely and I loved spending time with them. I made some of my best friends on that tour because we literally lived and worked together. We saw each other when we were happy and sad and tired. We really got to know each other.
It was wonderful seeing different places in the UK. Each place had a different vibe and it was interesting to see how the show changed because of the different types of audiences in each area.
You booked your first professional role on screen in Enterprice, can you tell us about it?
Enterprice was an amazing experience! I had no clue how different stage and screen were so Enterprice was an eye-opening experience. Kayode Ewumi is a comical genius, I enjoyed working with him. It was wonderful to work with so many people of colour, I felt so comfortable. It was nice going into hair and makeup and seeing all of the black hair products, that really made me smile.
Had you always wanted to get into acting, and was there anything that encouraged you to take it up professionally?
Since I was little I wanted to sing and perform. I didn’t know what else I could do. My family have been so supportive and told me to go for my dreams so I did. I really believe that this is what I was born to do. I thank God that I am doing it.
Can you tell us about your training at Rose Bruford College?
It was tough, emotional and fun. I had some of the best teachers and the most incredible year group. I made friends for life and met my partner there so I’m grateful. I loved learning different techniques and doing a variety of plays. I had to learn to take what works best for me and let things that didn’t work go. It was challenging but I loved it. The best three years of my life.
We understand you’re also a singer-songwriter, can you say about this?
When I was younger, I always thought I would be a singer who acts and I’ve turned out to be an actor who sings. Funny how life turns out. I have been writing a lot of music and recording and can’t wait to put my music out. I feel vulnerable putting out music because I’m revealing myself, when I’m acting I’m playing a character so it’s easy for me to hide behind that. With music, I’m saying look at me and my thoughts, which can be scary but also freeing.
How was it filming for Adult Material as Sabelle?
It was my first time playing a bigger role so I felt really excited about that. It was like a masterclass working with Haley Squires and Phil Daniels. It’s true that you never stop learning and that you learn the most on the job. There were a lot of vulnerable moments for me but beauty often comes from vulnerability.
It was great to see so many women working on set, in front and behind the camera. One of the things I most enjoyed on set was the food! Who doesn’t love free food?
What are you looking forward to for the show’s release on Channel 4?
I’m looking forward to people seeing different types of beauty. All different shapes and colours. I’m also looking forward to seeing my dad’s reaction to some of my outfits.
Are you able to say about any other upcoming projects?
I can’t say anything about any acting projects but I’m going to record and release some more music this year which will be a lot of fun.
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