Cleo is an actress in film, stage and television. Most recently, she starred in Alan Bennett’s play Allelujah! at the Bridge Theatre. She also performs the Blues as Honey B Mama.
“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to act. One of my godfathers was Constant Lambert, a conductor at Sadler’s Wells and I remember seeing various productions there. I did quite a bit of performing at school, but when I was leaving, my head teacher told me there were no coloured actresses in Britain. She thought she was acting in my own interests, as what she said was actually true, but thankfully it just made me even more determined.
Casting is far more inclusive now. When I started off, you’d basically play nurses or prostitutes. That was the range that you had, although the colour thing was secondary to the class thing for me. Having been brought up in a council flat near Euston, I saw class as a bigger struggle. I felt like that was the issue that had to be addressed – and that once that struggle was tackled, everything else – sexism, racism – would be dealt with as well.