Jacqueline Boatswain Talks … Acting and her career

Jacqueline Boatswain is a one of those instantly recognisable faces …

With a career spanning West End musicals, to TV cult series’, to voicing popular video games, Ms Boatswain has stories for days about the rollercoaster ride that is a career in acting.

We caught up with the former star of Hollyoaks, Shameless and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore about how she’s maintained her career and what’s coming up in 2023 …

Please introduce yourself …

Jacqueline Boatswain an actress, living in London, originally from Bedford and my family are from St Vincent.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …


Tell us about the latest project(s) we’ll be seeing you in …

I have Good Ship Murder coming out at some point, a detective series with Shane Ward and Catherine Tyldesley on Channel 5. I’m in the final episode which was very fun to do. Ansani Boys with Amazon, alongside people like Fiona Shaw, Delroy Lindo and Whoopi Goldberg. Coming out most likely next year. Carnival Row Season 2 is on Amazon and the last season of Death in Paradise. I’m also in an episode of The Diplomat on Netflix which is out now. Just finished filming After the Flood for ITV and Britbox.

Image Credit: Julie Vrabelova – Prime Video

Please tell us about each role we’ll see you in and what each character’s goals and intentions are …

Good Ship Murders – Professional poker player called Wendy the Widow Weston – an Ex-Detective who is now a singer on board a cruise ship – my episode is about a professional poker match being played onboard the cruise ship.

Anansi Boys – Eutheria Noah – based on the Anansi Boys novel by Neil Gaiman. – Rosie my daughter is engaged to the lead character Charlie, she’s an affluent and disapproving character of their engagement. She believes Rosie deserves so much better.

After The Flood – I play Sarah Mackey who is a Tory councillor married to a policeman, she has ambitions of making it to Westminster as an MP. The head of planning in the town they live in which floods when the river bursts its banks. She finds there’s been a murder so it’s about how the murder took place and how everyone is connected to that.

At this stage of your career, how do projects find you are you sought after or is your agent putting in the work to find all the roles?

My agent is putting in the work.

Your career started out as a ballet dancer, then Musical Theatre West End performer before you turned your hand to on-screen acting – can you tell us how your years as a dancer and then stage performer prepared you for the work you’re doing now?

Discipline and a work ethic to train as a dancer, especially in ballet, it’s a lot of work from a young age. It’s important for young people to have an outlet, something they are passionate about which is what dance was to me. It gave me qualities which serve me now in my adult life, the ballet gave me this discipline. Musical theatre makes my brain work in a certain way which lets me take on notes I’m given a lot quicker as I’m given so much information all at once.

Which project across your career trajectory has had the most significant impact on you personally and professionally?

I’ve had so many musicals I was in in the West End where I was playing the original cast member, which I didn’t realise till now – was significant. And I’d also say playing Patreesha St Rose as a regular in Shameless, it was such a one-off comedy series. Before that I was always cast as police, detectives, lawyers etc, so after this, it changed the way people viewed me to get cast.

Of the characters you’ve ever played which has been the most freeing when it comes to testing your skills, breaking barriers and making an impact?

Victoria Sweeney in Wolf Blood, I never played anything like it. A fantasy where I did my own stunts, jumping from the second-floor balcony. I had wolf teeth put in, light contacts and veins as you change from a human to a werewolf. I was in there for 2/ 3 seasons and it was fab.

Jacqueline as Victoria Sweeny in Wolfblood – image: BBC

Can you speak to a time when you faced potentially pivotal obstacles during your career and how you resolved them?

I think when I decided to stop doing musicals and get into straight acting, looking back on it now it could be a pivotal obstacle as there was an inverted snobbery in this country about moving from musicals into acting. Very different in America but it’s always been like that in this country which is slowly changing now. For me at the time ignorance was bliss, I didn’t realise it would be a pivotal obstacle as I had to retrain as the 15 years of experience I had wasn’t seen as being valid. I didn’t have to train though as I got my first TV job straight after my last dancing musical.


What’s your current plan B?

There is no plan B. Got to make plan A work.

What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?

Sad and Mad, the difference between the way the Greek authorities let all those people drown in the water, the disparity between that and the heightened search for the missing billionaires in the submarine. Both were tragedies and deserved the same amount of concern.

What are you watching right now?

The last few episodes of Ted Lasso, I’ve been enjoying it so much I don’t want it to end. And don’t judge me but Vanderpump Rules. I’ve been so busy that I can’t dedicate myself to finishing anything right now.

What are you reading right now?

With Love From the French Palace written by my friend Jill Nader & The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jennifer Lewis.

What are you listening to right now?

The Audio Book of Mr Lover Man by Bernadine Evaristo, 6 The Musical Soundtrack, Samara Joy, Self Esteem, Cat Burns and Silk Sonic so a big mix.

The last thing you saw on stage?

The Secret Life of Bees at the Almeda, 6 The Musical and 42nd Street.

What’s on your bucket list?

Something with wild animals like swimming with dolphins to get over my fear of animals other than cats and dogs.

Where’s your happy place?

With the people I love, wherever we are all having fun.

Celebrate someone else …

Viola Davies all day long.

Celebrate yourself …

I’m really thrilled about my musical theatre career which I’ve segued into a successful screen career.

Whose footsteps are you following in?

I’m not following in anyone’s footsteps, I don’t know anyone who has had the same path as me. I’m making my own footsteps which hopefully people can follow after me.

What’s Next?

I’m not sure, that’s the beauty of this industry. When it comes it comes fast. When I have downtime, that’s when I try and get other stuff done, because something always turns up.

Where can we find you?

@jacqui_boats on Instagram

Where can we see your latest work?

The BBC for Death in Paradise, Amazon for Carnival Row, and Goodship Murder on Channel 5 will most likely be the next thing that comes out.


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