How actress Tamara Lawrance connected to her Jamaican roots through her new PBS series

Tamara Lawrance plays a teen girl forced to become an enslaved housemaid to a plantation mistress in the new Masterpiece series "The Long Song." (Photo via NBC)

(NBC News) Actress Tamara Lawrance did not fully realise the emotional toll of playing an enslaved woman who survives the 1831 Christmas Rebellion in Jamaica in the new Masterpiece miniseries “The Long Song” until she had a chance conversation with a drama therapist about the grueling role.

“We met up for coffee and she just kind of asked me questions about things that I hadn’t been able to talk about,” Lawrance told NBC BLK. “It made me realise the trauma I was still carrying.”

Based on the acclaimed 2010 novel of the same name by the British Jamaican novelist Andrea Levy, “The Long Song” tells the story of an enslaved teenage girl named July (Lawrance), who was taken from her mother as a small child to become a maid for Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell), the newly wedded owner of a prosperous sugarcane plantation. The three-part BBC miniseries aired on PBS and is streaming on PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime.

“One thing I enjoyed about July was that had she been born in a different time, she would have ruled the world. She was so confident. It really inspired me,” Lawrance said. At the same time, “she is a victim of intense trauma, and that is going to come out in ways that we can’t quite put our finger on.”

An additional layer to her portrayal of July is the fact that Lawrance is of Jamaican descent herself. Born in Northwest London to a Jamaican immigrant mother, Lawrance notes that her family did not talk much about life on the island or its history.

Read more at: NBC

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