News Americas, LONDON, England, Fri. May 21, 2021: A British-born Jamaican roots actress is taking on the role of iconic Tudor queen Anne Boleyn in a brand-new Channel 5 series of the same name.
Jodie Turner-Smith, who is the only one of her siblings not born in Jamaica, will play the lead role in the new historical drama with a feminist viewpoint.
Turner-Smith was born in Peterborough, England to Jamaican parents. After her parents divorced, she moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland with her mother. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. She has lived in Los Angeles since 2009.
In 2013, she made her acting debut as a siren in True Blood, which led to numerous minor roles in films and music videos between 2013 and 2017. During this time, she was credited as Jodie Smith. In 2016, she appeared in the music video for Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk.”
She first came to prominence playing Sgt. Azima Kandie in the 2017–2018 season of the TNT series The Last Ship and then had a major role as Melantha Jhirl in the 2018 Syfy/Netflix series Nightflyers.Smith-Turner also began starring as Josie in the Cinemax series Jett, which premiered in June 2019, and starred as Queen in the 2019 thought provoking drama film Queen & Slim, opposite Daniel Kaluuya.
Channel 5 says the “drama will explore the final months of Anne Boleyn’s life, famously known as the King Henry VIII’s second wife who was cruelly beheaded, from the eponymous queen’s perspective.”
It will follow “her as she struggles to survive, to secure a future for her daughter, and to challenge the powerful patriarchy closing in around her.”
Smith has described her character as “formidable and fierce” as she spoke about her decision to take on the lead role, which is to set to be a convention-defying three-part psychological thriller aiming to give a feminist insight into Boleyn’s life.
Some of the first-look images of the actress as Boleyn show Turner-Smith sitting on a throne-like chair and looking fierce in a traditional emerald, green Tudor gown and headpiece. In another, she’s standing in a black velvet dress, with the iconic ‘B’ pearl necklace around her neck.
Shots of Jodie filming scenes reacting Anne Boleyn’s execution were also released on the anniversary of the historical event. Henry VIII’s second wife was famously beheaded on 19 May in 1536 for high treason after failing to produce a male heir. In the pictures, we see Turner-Smith’s eyes covered as she prepares to meet her fate.
It is the second time a Black, Asian and minority ethnic actress has played the role of Anne Boleyn on screen, after Merle Oberon, an Anglo-Indian actress who played the royal in Alexander Korda’s 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII.