8th June 2022
Interview: Jordan Arthur
Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent
Photographer: David Reiss
Make Up Artist: Kenneth Soh
Styling: Justin Hamilton
Cherrelle Skeete is a star of stage and screen who rocketed to promenience after being cast as Rose Granger-Weasly in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Cherellee joins ReVamp to talk about two brand new plays as well as a new sci-fi thriller on Sky.
Hi Cherrelle, and welcome to ReVamp! You’ve had such an interesting career in theatre, but I have to go back a few years and ask about Cursed Child. Harry Potter fans may recognise you as the originator of Rose Granger-Weasly. What was it like entering such a beloved world with a brand-new character?
It was just exciting because – when I was finally able to speak about it – I’ve got so many friends who were huge Potter fans, the kind who queued up at midnight for the next book, and for them to see me as a young black girl playing that role, it was amazing for them to feel represented in that way. It felt like they were at Hogwarts in seeing me play that role. I had so many messages of just crying emojis saying that they were absolutely blown away.
What I’ve loved, along with my own community, is how the Harry Potter fan community is so filled with love. I’ve really enjoyed, and even still now, getting fan letters that tell me how they’ve connected to Harry Potter as a story, how it helped them as a young person, how it continues to help them now, how it gives them hope. The community is filled with artists - I could create a whole gallery of Rose Granger-Weasly and her family in all different styles. Along with feeling the pressures, it was an absolute honour to be welcomed into the wizarding world fan community which are so loyal.
What I think is amazing about the show is that it’s introduced a whole new generation of people to this story but also to theatre. I know a lot of people who said they wouldn’t normally go the theatre, but because it was Harry Potter they had to come and see the next instalment in the story and having had a great experience are going to theatre a lot more generally.
I think whenever you can get people to sit down and listen to different types of stories or they want to see me or other cast members and come out for other shows, it’s amazing.
Your next big stage production is THE 47th at the Old Vic, all about a hypothetical (hopefully) presidential race between Kamala Harris and Donald Trump. What can you tell us about the play and your character?
I think its epic. I think it’s a story that is a comment on what we’ve been through globally over the last few years. Seeing Trump get into power, then losing his power, and the shifts that have happened over lockdown. I think Mike Bartlett and Rupert Goold have done something really clever in that they’ve taken the bits of truth but also put in the imaginary in terms of what could happen.
I play Tina Flournoy who is based on a real person. She’s stepped down now, but she was Kamala Harris’ chief of staff. In real life she’s a lot older than me and she’s been in the white house for over 13 years - a very experienced political advisor to people like Bill Clinton and senior figures in Washington. But she’s always behind the scenes. I’ve learned a lot about DC in researching around her because she herself is not very visible on the internet. There’s not a lot you can find about her, but that’s specific to who she is a person, she’s solely been in service to the state, she’s not interested in people knowing about her private life. She makes these really important decisions and get the president or VP to sign off on it - she’s very powerful while keeping her ability to be anonymous as well.
I also play another role, Vita, we meet her at the end of the play but I don’t want to say too much about her. She’s a little surprise, a little sauce at the end.
Does the play reveal who the winner would be in such a race – and is it a happy ending?...
It’s not as neatly tied up as that. It’s left to the audience to decide who will win. It’s through which lens you chose to watch the play. The biggest thing I’ve heard back from people who have seen it is that it’s really for you to decide.
Ultimately I think the performances are really powerful. The whole cast is just brilliant - I’ve sat in rehearsals and just beamed at how talented everyone is. How Mike has been able to take this kind of very big political story and put in the epic and see it like a classic Greek or Shakespeare play. If you’re a theatre geek you’ll definitely be excited by it. If you’re into politics you’ll be able to follow it but also if you just love strong acting you’ll love it because it’s so intense. But also very, very funny.
After the 47th you’re going straight into The Fellowship at Hampstead Theatre. It seems like a play about the children of the Windrush generation couldn’t be coming at a better time. It must be very rewarding to be able to bring this story to life?
I feel so honoured to be part of this particular story because Roy Williams and Paulette Randall are creatives I’ve watched as a younger artist so to be able to work with them for the first time is so exciting.
This story especially as Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean are going through different changes,
I think what the play really hones in on, like a memory play, is people connecting with families going through things and not really having processed stuff over time. There are these big, big moments in our family that don’t get processed because there isn’t time and life moves on, but you don’t realise how five, 10 years later those big events have impacted people’s lives.
It looks at something that has been a headline or buzzword like ‘Windrush scandal’, and then focuses in on one family to see how really it’s about people, and this is how they were impacted, even if they haven’t processed it themselves.
This is an important part of British history that’s so easily brushed under the carpet, to the point where we have to remember and tell these stories otherwise we’ll believe – specifically for me as a proud British Caribbean – that we aren’t valued or we haven’t contributed to this society. It’s really important to be able to identify the wonderful duplicity of cultures, and see British Caribbean culture being so alive.
The world stopped and watched a man be murdered, which felt so far away in America, but I think here in the UK we didn’t necessarily stop to think there are some very similar cases - we look at what happened with Steven Lawrence. All these crimes and tragedies and how they’ve impacted us as people and families.
In this play, we see a family come to terms with the things that they’ve experienced. I think it’s a wonderful story that could be really healing for people who watch it. I know when I read it saw my family in there. We’re all part of a family with our own dynamics and I think lots of people will be able to see lots of themselves in this play.
As well as theatre, there are some cool TV projects coming up. You’ve filmed The Midnight Cuckoos (Sky) – which is a modern reimagining of the John Wyndham book. What can people expect when it launches later in the summer?
It’s going to be intense. We love a bit of a sci-fi. It’s centred around this really small village just outside of London and stuff goes down! I hope it’s going to be binge-watch material and you’ll be gripped. I play another suited character who is sent in from London to investigate the weird happenings of these children who are all born at the same time and are in the middle of weird goings on. It’s led by the wonderful Keely Hawes and a brilliant cast. I’m excited to watch it myself.
It’s amazing to see this book that was written in the 50s have such a legacy and now adapted by David Farr who also wrote Hannah which I was in. He finds it really fascinating using young people as the revolution - having children representing the future - so I’m just as intrigued as everyone else to see how that will come to life in this story.