Nigerian-British actress Wunmi Mosaku is bringing a breath of fresh air and light to Idris Elba’s Luther, which returned to BBC America for season five on Sunday.
Mosaku will play new recruit, D.S. Catherine Halliday, who the BAFTA-winning actress described as “really bright and intelligent and energetic and enthusiastic.”
“Catherine is like a green, brand new puppy. She’s excited about everything. She’s excited about the truth. She’s excited about her job,” the actress told ESSENCE earlier this month. “She’s honest and has integrity. She just is really bright and intelligent and energetic and enthusiastic. She’s just a lot of ball of light in a very, very dark world.”
Usually cast in slightly drearier roles, Mosaku’s turn as Catherine is a little closer to her offscreen personality. And although the actress said she could appear more introverted, it’s really just her own nervousness.
“I’m always playing someone grumpy or sad or grieving or downtrodden or stoic,” she admitted. “As people get to know me within the industry, they know it’s completely the opposite of what I’m like because I am a hyperactive, energetic ball.”
She also has a big heart.
It’s important to me that women are protected and saved and educated and loved and valued.
Mosaku works with ActionAid, an international organization that works to defeat poverty, injustice and gender inequality. The actress said she reached out to the organization after being inspired by the Me Too movement.
“Gender inequality is a global issue that affects everyone. My parents are professors. My sister is a Ph.D. student. My other sister has a business. I come from a very matriarchal family and it’s important to me that women are protected and saved and educated and loved and valued.”
It’s a message the actress hopes to continue to spread through her work with ActionAid and through her work onscreen. It’s empathy that Mosaku wants to see more of along with an understanding of each other.
“What’s really missing is people seeing how similar we all are. What’s missing is the empathy of the other. We think of people as the other.”
Mosaku said part of the problem is that popular culture centers on just one narrative, mainly a Eurocentric one.
“If you break down Romeo and Juliet that could be set in any country or any place. It’s a universal story,” she said. “We’ve been told a single story many times from one perspective, one idea of success, one idea of beauty, one idea of strife, one idea of justice.”
“We’ve been told one side of a story. We haven’t been told the other side. That’s what needs to be told,” Mosaku added.
Season five of Luther airs Sunday on BBC America.