Paapa Essiedu

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Paapa Essiedu (born 1990) is a British actor. He is known for his work in theatre, though he has also worked in film and television. In 2016 he played Edmund in King Lear and the title role in Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1990, Essiedu grew up in East London with his mother, who was a fashion and design teacher. His family comes from Ghana, where he has a half brother and sister. He won a scholarship to The Forest School, Walthamstow and his ambition as he grew older was to become a doctor.[1] Essiedu became more involved with Shakespeare when he was accepted into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He takes inspiration from his favourite actors: Mark Rylance, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Simon Russell Beale, David Thewlis and Gary Oldman.

Career[edit]

Essiedu joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012 to play Fenton in Phillip Breen's production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Afterwards, he went to the National Theatre, playing Burgundy and understudying Edmund in Sam Mendes’ production of King Lear. When Sam Troughton lost his voice during a performance, Essiedu, then his understudy, stepped in and played the role to critical acclaim.[2] He has acted in Outside on the Street (Pleasance Theatre), Black Jesus (Finborough Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Tobacco Factory), You For Me For You (Royal Court), and most recently Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Essiedu has set up a theatre company, Invertigo, with Steffan Donnelly, Tim Bowie and Sion Alun Davies.

Performances[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Year Title Role
2013 Black Jesus Gabriel
2014 King Lear Burgundy
2015 Romeo and Juliet Romeo
2015 You For Me For You Wade
2016 Hamlet Hamlet
2016 King Lear Edmund

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Utopia Roy - Episode #1.4 (2013)

- Episode #1.1 (2013)

2015 Not Safe For Work Paul - Episode #1.5 (2015)
2016 A Midsummer Night's Dream Demetrius

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kellaway, Interview by Kate (2016-03-13). "Paapa Essiedu: You can't live with your heart on your sleeve". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-08. 
  2. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (2014-01-23). "Actor loses voice on stage during Sam Mendes's King Lear". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-08.