When Lashana Lynch appears on screen in “Bob Marley: One Love,” she looks as if she was born for the part. From a British agent, a superhero to an African queen, she has given audiences a range of characters but in becoming Rita Marley, she has morphed into Jamaica’s icon through meticulous observation.
For the British actress, who hails from Jamaican descent, playing the matriarch of the Marley Family was a cathartic experience. “As soon as I put on the wig and the headwrap, that was her. I was fully in from that moment and that was my access point and my anchor. Whenever I put her on my body, I felt her immediately,” shares Lynch who says the role was an opportunity to represent her culture.
Playing a real-life individual always presents a challenge with an actor working within the confines of history, memory, and appearance, but for Lynch there was no pressure at all to embody the undisputed Queen of Reggae and the wife of one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century.
“I know that I am never given anything I can’t handle or haven’t earned. With the experience that I have had in my career in this industry, there is no pressure when I feel like things are aligned for me.”
Lynch, a graduate of the BA Acting course at ArtsEd drama school in London, did her research on Mrs. Marley. There were interviews she poured through, music she soaked in, autobiographies she read, concerts and performances on the I-Threes she watched to capture her nuances as Mrs. Marley did forge an extraordinary career as a solo artist.
“It was a pretty conscious stream of me accessing the right vibration that was essential for playing her. If I was to be representing one of the queens of our country, I would want her to be upheld in the finest light that she deserves to be held. It’s important to have all the information to hand when playing someone real,” adds the actress who recalls her first meeting with Mrs. Marley.
“The first thing that she said was that I had the energy. That was enough of a blessing to know that I could walk confidently and boldly into representing her in the way that I know her to now be and also give her a statement to feel proud of in the world. The access I had to her was as much as I wanted or needed it to be. She was so giving of herself and is so open and ready to give me what I needed in order to do the best job that I could.”
A film that celebrates the life and music of Jamaica’s reggae ambassador, “Bob Marley: One Love,” humanizes Bob with a well-deserved spotlight on Mrs. Marley, who was that backbone to his life. British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir, who portrayed Malcolm X in the Amazon Studios film “One Night in Miami,” stars as Bob.
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the film which was shot in Jamaica and the United Kingdom, gives audiences more of an insight into Bob’s life.
“Many people have known information about Bob that they have learned from the internet or documentaries or what they may have heard. This is not a retelling of his entire life. This is a slice of his life that is told in a very naturalistic wholesome real way.
Lynch, who plays the leading role of Rosaline in the ABC period drama series “Still Star-Crossed” made her film debut in the 2011 drama film “Fast Girls.” With roles that include the BBC television film “The 7.39,” “Silent Witness,” and “Death in Paradise,” movies “No Time to Die,” “The Woman King” and “Captain Marvel,” she can be seen in the upcoming racial drama “The Outside Room” and is currently filming a television remake of the ‘70s spy thriller “The Day of the Jackal.”
“For me, acting is about telling stories through artistry and I want people to feel Mrs. Marley’s energy. It is really important that the audience get a chance to learn who she still is and just how much Bob meant to her and how much she meant to him,” she continues. “The biggest thing that I learned about her is how instrumental she was to different parts of Bob’s life. How much she was able to support him in every way when it came to his music and when it came to reminding him of himself and his essence and aligning him to be the best artist that he could be and when it came to raising incredible spiritual grounded children. There are so many insights you just don’t get to see in biopics these days and I was really confident that myself and Kingsley would be able to make something special.”
The movie will be released in theaters on February 14.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa. Photo Credit: Chiabella James