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Who is she?
A 27-year-old from Stoke Newington, London, who learned the lessons of the acting trade early. At five-and-a-half, she lied about her age to get into drama classes – pretending to be six.
She’s been in the industry for a while. Why are we just hearing about her?
She’s been busy filling her CV with other activities: acting on stage; writing plays and a script for the BBC; developing a TV drama with Idris Elba; starring as Vod in Channel 4′s Fresh Meat. Oh, and as a teenager she was a champion slam poet. The reason film people are taking notice is that she appears in Carol Morley’s brilliant Dreams of a Life (pictured, in cinemas on 16 December).
Isn’t that a documentary?
Drama-documentary. It reconstructs the life of thirtysomething Joyce Vincent, who died alone in her London bedsit; her body was found three years later, TV still on. When her friends and ex-boyfriends didn’t hear from her, most assumed she was off being fabulous somewhere. Ashton plays Joyce subtly, flickering between vulnerability and being the life and soul of the party.
And Ashton writes too?
Yes, she started at drama school, disappointed with how few roles exist for black and mixed-race women. “Annoyance leads the creativity.” Right now, she’s writer in residence at Clean Break theatre company – working with women in prison and ex-offenders.
What’s next: more acting or writing?
Both. “Acting is a job I love, that I’m committed to. My first love. Writing is the mistress in this scenario. Or whatever the male version is … my man on the side.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010