2020 has been a year like no other for rising star Gbemisola

2020 has been a year like no other for rising star Gbemisola.

We always get a thrill when we see our graduates popping up on our TV screens. Hearts burst with pride when we recognise the names and faces of our acting and drama graduates as they inhabit new characters in the latest TV drama or soap.

Usually it’s a slow burn in the acting business – securing one gig at a time, but for Gbemisola Ikumelo, all her Christmas’s seemed to come at once.

In the space of a fortnight in 2020, she had won a TV BAFTA for her short ‘Brain in Gear’, had a comedy series based on said short commissioned by the BBC, and been cast in an American comedy-drama! Gbemisola continued to fill our TV screens later in 2020, appearing alongside Hugh Laurie as Steff Frost in the BBC One series ‘Roadkill’. A quick flick over to ITV and you could also find her sharing the studio with Tom Allen, Paloma Faith and Joanna Lumley on the ‘Jonathan Ross Show’.

Gbemisola studied BA Acting at QMU and, after graduating in 2003, she steadily developed her career with several parts in both theatre and film.

However, it was her role as the troublesome Kadean in Dane Baptiste’s show ‘Sunny D’ which gained her recognition as a comedy actor. She was snapped up by the BBC and cast in ‘Famalam’, a zany new comedy sketch show featuring an array of oddball characters and off-the-wall situations. The super sharp sketch show stars black British talent behind and in front of the camera. And in 2018, when the show first hit our screens, British television was ready and waiting for a high profile comedic exploration of the contemporary black British experience. Gbemisola received a BAFTA nomination for ‘Best Female Performance in a Comedy’ for her work on ‘Famalam’, for which she is also a writer. Outside of Famalam, Gbemisola spent much of her time developing her own comedy writing. Her most recent, Brain in Gear, debuted as one of the BBC’s critically acclaimed Comedy Shorts in 2019, and received a BAFTA for best short form programme.

Written by and starring Gbemisola, Brain In Gear is a flat-share comedy centred around Remi, a “normal” single woman in her twenties who is battling anxiety in the form of her two alter egos, Boss Bitch Remi and Dark Remi.

Gbemisola could hardly believe her luck when her short was commissioned to run as a series on BBC2. The Brain in Gear series continues the story of Remi as she attempts to get on with her life, but normal everyday tasks prove impossible due to constant interruptions from her inner thoughts.

Shane Allen, Controller Comedy Commissioning, said:

"Gbemisola has fast become one of the leading comedy performers of her generation. Her range of characters is a joy to behold and we’re proud to see her spread her considerable talent wings as creator, writer and co-director of this very special mini-series."

Josh Cole, Head of Comedy, BBC Studios, described Gbemisola as a

"uniquely multitalented creative force."

High praise indeed from the British Broadcasting Corporation, but Gbemisola is also getting used to international recognition having starred in Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ and through her involvement in Amazon’s reimagining of ‘A League of Their Own’.

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a hard one for the creative industries but it has been a year like no other for this immensely talented rising star! 


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