English | Nigerian

Natalie Simpson.jpg

My mum is from Nigeria, my dad is from Somerset. I was born in Nigeria, it was my home for the first 24 years of my life. When I was 11 my parents sent me and my siblings to Buckinghamshire for school, but whenever term was over I would return to Nigeria. When I arrived in the UK and went to school it was very difficult for me to adapt. 
I didn’t really settle in to what colour I was until I became an actor. I was told I was identified as a black actor and was asked how I feel to be identified as black rather than white or mixed. I didn’t realise how it affected me until I was told day to day I was that. When you’re growing up you just deal with what you have. 
I think there are positives for being racially ambiguous, I’m not sure if it is because of or despite me being brown. In theatre roles I have played a huge range of characters, when I transitioned onto the screen it’s been much more limited. My first ever acting role was in 2012, I played a slave in an independent film. I was really excited as it was an important film as it was based on a true story. I was proud to tell it. Since then I have auditioned for anything and everything. The next thing I got on screen 6 years on was playing another slave, it’s made me question why this is the only role on screen I seem to be able to get. 
My first year after drama school I did a season at the RSC. They asked me to write for Black History Month based on my experiences of being black. I had to explain that I wasn’t, not because I’m ashamed of my heritage but I don’t think I was in the position to talk about an experience that I don’t truly understand. It does upset me sometimes; my father is white, and I feel as connected to my white side as my black side. I think people can make you feel however you want them to make you feel but how you feel on the inside is your own choice. 
If I was to be reincarnated I would come back as me, I like having a foot in each world. I like being able to relate to so many people. It would probably easier if I came back looking like my dad but I love a challenge.