You will most definitely know Adelayo Adedayo from the teen sitcom Some Girls and of course the comedy series TimeWasters…
But she is an actress with so much more versatility and she showcases this as a first responder in The Responder.
The Responder is a fast-paced police drama set in Liverpool and takes you through five nights over five episodes to the front line of the action. It stars Martin Freeman alongside as Chris an officer used working to the beat of his own drum who is forced to take on partner (Rachel) Adelayo Adedayo who both learn a thing or two from each other.
We spoke to Adelayo about her character, the significance of playing a black female police officer and what audiences to expect from the series…
Please introduce yourself…
Hey! My name is Adelayo Adedayo, I am an actress from London and my heritage is Nigerian.
Please share a word or sentence that describes your life right now.
The Responder is penned by ex-police officer Tony Schumacher and is based on his real experiences on the job. The series has an intriguing storyline whilst boasting a fantastic cast of old and new faces ( Martin Freeman is fantastic as Chris). Who were you most looking forward to working with and what were your initial thoughts when reading the script?
Martin is amazing! I had a wonderful time working with him, it was the kind of environment where we could explore and try things and have fun. I was also excited to work with Ian Hart and David Bradley, as I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Oh I thought the script was beautiful, my favourite thing about it was how human it felt. The conversations between the characters and the ways in which they were trying to express themselves felt so authentic.
Rachel is a rookie, black, female officer all of which comes with their own issues within the police force. Were any of the issues that an officer would face in real life taken into consideration within the show and/or when you were building Rachel’s character?
Yeah, I definitely took all of those things into consideration, I think it would be hard not to. I think all of those things are a part of who she is, so they inform parts of her character!
The show also seems to shed a light on the abuse of power not only by police officers but specifically male officers when dealing with vulnerable people especially dealing with women. In a time when we are constantly hearing new stories of this in the news, how has it been for you as an actress navigating through such real and touchy subject matters?
As an actress, I always try to remember it’s about the character, not myself. I put my focus on really trying to honour Rachel in terms of who she is as a character and thinking about how she would navigate these things in this world that Tony has created.
When we first meet Rachel she is annoyed by the fact that Martin’s character Chris often ignores her presence and she isn’t afraid to express her own dislike for her superior officer. As we see the show progress and her interactions with him become more frequent… how will the dynamics between the two characters develop?
It feels like they start to lean on each other a little more, begrudgingly though! They challenge each other more too, it sort of never runs smoothly with them, there are loads of bumps in the road.
In taking on the role did you think about all of the things you would potentially have to unpack such as the discrimination, underrepresentation and other social injustices faced by black female officers and how did you navigate through this while developing your character?
Absolutely, because in the world of The Responder, Rachel would’ve dealt with those issues, so for me in terms of her development, those things, among others, fed into the drive behind her decisions and sometimes desperation. Also, the vulnerability that comes through and her bravery too.
Which scene best showcases Rachel’s journey as a character?
There is a scene in one of the episodes, that I think really showcases her journey and the impact it’s had on her. But I would ruin it if I said!
You have played an array of characters in a number of series from comedy to crime dramas and thrillers, how do you choose your roles, do you have a map of exactly how you want your career to go and how do the roles you choose fit it?
The first thing I think about is whether I respond to the character, in an ‘am I excited to play this part’ kind of way. Then I think about the writing and whether I love it, and then the story of the piece as a whole, when all those things come together it’s beautiful!
You are notably known for your role as Lauren in Timewasters. A U.S. version of the show is currently in the works at ABC, with A Black Lady Sketch Show head writer Lauren Ashley Smith writing and executive producing. How amazing is that did you, Samson and the rest of the cast and crew ever think it would blow up in such a way?
Ah, it’s amazing! No not at all, I don’t think we ever thought about it being remade stateside. I’m can’t wait to watch it though – and see all the differences and similarities.
Do you have any projects on the horizon that you are working on?
I’ve got a couple things in the mix, but I’m not allowed to say just yet!
GETTING TO KNOW YOU…
A book you have to have in your collection? Oh this is a hard question! There are too many good books to choose from, my bookshelf is literally falling apart as I type!
A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? J Hus – Spirit – specifically the chorus!
A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly? Harry Potter and Insecure!
The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance or concert)? I think the first play I ever saw onstage was Gone too Far at the Royal Court! Just being able to see different parts of my Nigerian and British culture on stage and really resonating with it felt really really great!
What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week?
The rainy weather! It hasn’t actually made me sad but it made me wanna stay in pyjamas with a book and eat cake. Mad – I haven’t had pounded yam once this week. Glad – I’m having pounded yam tonight!
The Responder airs @ 9pm on BBC One and iPlayer on Monday 24th January