Interview with Kiké Brimah on Noughts + Crosses

Noughts + Crosses The much anticipated adaptation of book one of Malorie Blackman's award-winning young adult series

Noughts + Crosses starts Thursday 5 March on BBC One


Kiké Brimah plays Minerva Hadley in Noughts + Crosses.

Were you familiar with Malorie Blackman’s novel?
I loved this story before I was even involved in the project. I was 23 when I read the book and I was completely obsessed with it, it came everywhere with me - even the bathroom. My dad has just started to read the book and he loves it, so even though the intended audience for the book was initially young adults, the story is so developed that anyone can read it and love the tale being told. I definitely think it would appeal to all ages.

Tell us about your character, Minerva Hadley.
Minerva is free spirited, fun and flirty, she is what I would describe, in this 'world', as the epitome of black privilege. She lives in a world where everything is in her favour and from the outside it looks amazing. She is from this wealthy family and she dresses well, but when you take a look inside the bubble you see all of the cracks and flaws. She is incredibly insecure, having always felt neglected by her father and constantly being in competition with her younger sister, Sephy (Masali Baduza), for his affection.

Her constant need to be centre of attention is a front to obscure how she actually feels. She is quite complex and you see elements of that this series, you see her vulnerable side.

Tell us about your on-screen family and filming in South Africa.
Coming to South Africa has been such an experience and that is what you want, to have the opportunity for your work to take you places and to meet people you may not have necessarily met. So it has been great to come to South Africa, and on my time off I have explored and taken in the culture - and even climbed a mountain!

I feel so grateful to be a part of this project because of the people involved. The cast all clicked straight away. I love Masali. Maybe because we are both African or maybe it is simply being a young black female in this world, as it doesn’t matter where you are from, we share similar experiences. It was very easy then to tap into the idea of her as my little sister, because that’s what it feels like in real life.

It was the same with Paterson and Bonnie, who play my parents in the drama. Bonnie came and took me under her wing in a motherly way and Paterson and I bonded over the fact we both live in London and attended drama school. I have loved working with them all.

What was it like to wear Minerva’s amazing wardrobe?
Minerva is bold, fashion forward and eccentric, so my costumes are made up of bright, statement pieces. A big thing for black people when it comes to clothing is colour, so there are lots of vivid colours and bold patterns. The Noughts’ clothing is duller and that is a conscious decision made to show the stark differences in the two worlds.

I also have my natural hair because in this world black hair is the epitome of beauty. I don’t remember the last time I saw a show that celebrated natural hair like this. There is nothing wrong with wigs and weaves, I love all of that myself, but it is nice to have a TV show that celebrates natural black hair.

How did it feel, to inhabit Minerva's life?
The biggest thing for me being Minerva is the ability to be unapologetically black and knowing there are no repercussions for it, because the stakes are in our favour. That was something that attracted me to this role initially, the idea of living in a world where you never have to apologise for who you are, as it is accepted. Minerva can say what she wants and do what she wants and that has been nice to explore.

There have been moments during filming when I have felt very proud to be a part of a drama that celebrates something that a lot of people may not have seen on screen or in the world.

I remember when I read the book it made me think about how my mind has been conditioned so much that I didn’t even realise certain things. For example, there is a moment where Callum cuts his finger and Sephy gets him a plaster, but the plaster is too dark for his skin, despite the fact it is supposed to be a neutral colour, a nude plaster to fit all. I was shocked because I never even questioned it before. I hope that people watch this and have moments of reflection like that.

Do you think Minerva is purposefully ignorant?
I don’t believe Minerva is purposefully ignorant, she is just used to the ways of the world and doesn’t think she can change it, so she just lives in it as it works in her favour. While she knows that is bad, it’s what she has grown up around. There are a lot of people out there who probably feel the same, they are saddened by things that are happening, but also accepting that this is just the way the world works.

I hope that by seeing this drama they start to question what is okay and what is not. I hope it starts to change people’s perceptions like the book did for me. It is a universal drama, it has themes that everyone can relate to and I hope people are as hooked to the show as I was to the book. I feel privileged to be a part of this project, I still can’t believe it.

Pictured: Minerva Hadley (Kiké Brimah), Lekan Baako (Jonathan Ajayi

March 5, 2020 6:50am ET by BBC One  


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