Seroca Davis is an award-winning theatre and on-screen actress, whose career has been defined by the powerful conscious message of her work.
This time around she is set to play the leading role in BBC Two’s drama-documentary Una Marson – Our Lost Caribbean Voice. In this open and honest conversation, Seroca sat down with The British Blacklist to discuss her preparation for the upcoming role and the challenges currently facing Black women in the creative industry …
Please introduce yourself …
I am Seroca Davis, an actress who had the honour of bringing the phenomenal Una Marson to life.
Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now.
Your latest project (BBC Two’s historical drama Una Marson – Our Lost Caribbean Voice, is set to be one of the most culturally impactful releases of the year. How easy or challenging do you find it to step outside of the role and appreciate the documentary’s significance?
It’s always hard for me to watch my work back as I’m often watching from a different perspective however, this documentary is so insightful and significant that I can’t help but watch it in awe and amazement. Una’s life is so inspiring so it’s hard not to recognise that.
Were you familiar with Una Marson’s story before playing her in this documentary?
No I wasn’t and I like to think of myself as a person who is quite familiar with the people that came before me but I knew nothing about Una and so researching her was so breathtaking for me.
The directorial decision to interweave archive footage of Una in the documentary alongside your portrayal of her further emphasises how amazing your performance is! What processes did you go through to perfect Una’s demeanour and unique speaking cadence?
Thank you! So I watched and listened to her a lot! Her posture, demeanour and presence are something quite special but it’s funny because getting her voice down was the priority for me. Although from Jamaica you would not know. She often wrote in her poetry and commented that the British people would often say that she spoke English so well as though it belonged to her and if they closed their eyes, they would think she was one of them! Once I felt as though I had her tone and voice down, her posture and demeanour then came.
Based on your own experience in the professional arts creative field, to what extent do you believe that Black women are still having to overcome the same obstacles or have the challenges changed with the times?
I mean I think it’s getting better but yes, unfortunately as Black women we are still having to overcome the same obstacles. I totally resonated with the fact that Una felt as though she had to make herself small to ensure she didn’t alienate the white audiences but at the same time be proud of where she came from. Sadly, I’ve often felt that. Being in rooms where there are not many other Black women, nervous, not wanting to come across as ‘aggressive‘ or ‘too opinionated‘ but wanting to have a voice and not second guess things I say; Being able to express myself in the same way that others in the room can.
The documentary being aired on BBC Two means that it’s likely to reach a more mainstream audience. Are you hopeful that this will expose more people outside of the Black community to Una’s immense career?
100% I really hope that it does because we all need to be educated on just how brave, courageous and inspiring Una was.
There’s always an air of excitement when news spreads that a television series, documentary or film is going to be made about one of our heroes. However, this excitement quickly becomes scepticism as we become wary that they won’t be shown in the correct light. Were you mindful of the version of Una that you had signed up to play before accepting the role?
That’s so true and I was. But after reading the script and meeting the creatives and producers behind this project, I knew that we were in great hands.
It often feels that icons in African-American culture are far more likely to be represented on screen than Black-British icons. Is this the sentiment that you also share and if so do you believe that the UK is doing enough to close this gap?
For sure, but in recent years, we are seeing more Black British icons on our screens. It’s beautiful to see. I believe there is still a way to go but I am hopeful we will get there.
Do you have anything coming up outside of this documentary that we should keep an eye out for?
Yes … a really exciting project but I’m not sure I can say any more.
What’s your current plan B? (if it all goes wrong what’s the plan?)
There is no plan B. Acting is the plan and is something I’ve been doing from a very young age but I do other things as well which all contribute to the plan of living a happy and fruitful life.
Celebrate someone else (who do you rate right now?) –
So many … Daniel Kaluuya, Richie Campbell, and Lashana Lynch to name a few.
Celebrate yourself … (make us proud of you)
As well as an actor, I run my own business and I have recently become a mother! My biggest and greatest job thus far!
What is a memorable moment from your carer that you can share with our audience …
Winning an Evening Standard Award for Best Actress.
A book you have to have in your collection?
Two … The Bible and Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
- A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date?
- A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly?
The Shawshank Redemption and The Wire
- The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance or concert)?
Fallout by Roy Williams at the Royal Court. That is what truly inspired me to want to be on stage. Before that, I had never done theatre. Seeing that show made me want to be on stage.
- What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week?
I am saddened by the loss of a beautiful soul and actress friend. Mad that I got a parking ticket! Why don’t they make the signs clearer! Also mad at colic! Anyone with a newborn will know! Glad to be alive.
Una Marson – Our Lost Caribbean Voice airs Sunday 23rd October @ 9pm on BBC Two