Irish/Welsh | Jamaican

Alicia Charles.jpg

I grew up in Leicester with my mum. My dad wasn’t in the picture at all. I didn’t really experience the Caribbean side at all, apart from through my friends. I went round their houses and went to Antigua with my friend when I was like 16. That was my way to experience it because it wasn’t in the family. My friendships happened naturally especially in a smaller city you tend to get grouped by other people. I wasn’t really aware of it until I came out of it. Being labelled before I had even made up my own mind. I never felt like I was different. I was always very confused. The racism that I have experienced has always been more in my hometown rather than London and I was always really confused by it. I had it from both sides. I just thought I was the same as everyone else. When I came to London there wasn’t really any of that. Just being in London anyway was a bit… quite liberating. Suddenly I was in a big town, I was invisible and could do what I wanted. As time went on, being here, I started noticing more subtle issues with being mixed-race. Almost like sometimes you are treated as a bit of a novelty. The word exotic was used a lot when I was growing up. Personally speaking, I feel like I can relate to both sides so I have a gain there because even with the racism I did have, I tried to let it not get to me. Some of it subconsciously did, especially for example the way in school you weren’t always seen as the prettiest because mixed race people weren’t represented in films and stuff. It was always the Goldie Hawn look or something like that which was seen as beautiful. I think we are in the middle of the change now. Everywhere in the acting world you are hearing ‘BAME’ which stands for Black, Asian and minority ethnic. You are seeing it a lot on breakdowns. Everyone is saying it is great and this is your time and all of that. I think it's good and bad. It’s great because more representation of mixed culture is great for younger people. On the other side, it is almost like it is a trend. I’ve heard people say to me, “you’re very current right now” and it almost seems like I’m going to go out of fashion.