On Wednesday, October 21 the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Scotland (Baftas Scotland) announced the nominations for the British Academy Scotland Awards in 2020, honouring the very best talent in film, games and television produced in Scotland over the last year. One of the nominees is Lois Chimimba, a Scottish-Malawian actress who got a nomination in the Best Actress category. The actress has starred in films such as Doctor Who, There She Goes, the sitcom Group, and a stage play Wonderland among others. She is a first timer. Our Arts Editor EDITH GONDWE caught up with Chimimba to get to know her better as well as get her reaction to the big news.
You are a first time nominee for the prestigious Scottish Baftas. When you discovered that you were on the nomination list, what was your reaction?
It was a total surprise. I only found out when Bafta announced the nominees on Twitter. And I actually texted my agent saying there appears to be some kind of award thing online, is this real? Then my family and best friends were the first people I called. They were all hugely excited and screaming. I spent the whole day laughing to myself because I couldn’t believe it was really happening!
You are up against big names. Some of which have ever won academy awards in the past. Does the competition in your category scare you?
If I’m truly honest, the success of the other actresses in the category has almost made it easier to relax and not stress about a win at all. I think part of the reason I keep laughing to myself about the whole thing is the fact I’m alongside Glenda Jackson- literally an Oscar winner, and Mirren, who was the lead is an exciting five-part drama. So, genuinely when I’ve been nominated for my role in a one off pilot, I feel totally privileged. It’s not false modesty; I’m just thrilled to be part of it. I’m hopeful this means the door is now open for me in the future. I don’t feel any pressure this time round.
Many in Malawi are not aware that there is a star who has Malawian roots making it in big in the movie world. What is your connection to Malawi?
: My father, Jordan Chimimba, is from Likoma Island. Then his family settled at Monkey Bay [in Mangochi]. My mother, Carol Chimimba, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. They met both studying to be engineers at Scotland’s Strathclyde University. I was born in Glasgow, but immediately returned to Malawi as my parents had been living there together for over 10 years at that point. I spent my school years in Scotland with my mum and sister and have returned to Malawi twice. But, the Chimimbas keep us up to date with all that’s going on! I hope to visit again to know more, but in spite of that I really do feel both Scottish and Malawian. I now live in London, after moving to attend drama school, and my race and heritage are often asked about. People don’t seem to come across many Malawian-Scots!
Now that you are nominated for this award, does it come with extra pressure? How are you handling the current status?
I feel super excited at the prospect of new opportunities coming from this. Working in the acting industry, it’s a pretty frequent concern that the colour of my skin or my regional accent could make certain things harder. So, to be included in this group gives me hope for my future. I’m not concerned about winning, but I will try to grab the opportunity as best I can to try and make the impact in acting [and in the world!], that I really hope to. I feel very supported and grateful right now.