Shantol Jackson: #Yardie brings Fresh Talent to Cinema

Actress Shantol Jackson co-stars as (Yvonne) in the upcoming new film release Yardie by Idris Elba, most poplarly known in her native Jamaica for the television hit drama by Dahlia Harris’ “Thicker than Water” , where Jackson started out,  following that she starred in teen drama “Real Friends”.  Her love for acting was discovered when she joined the drama club at Ardenne High school. She won several awards: including Jamaica Culture Development Commission gold medals and National Awards during her time in high school and University of the West Indies’ Tallawah competition.

Her stage credits  include Hurricane Honeymoon and The Mountaintop. In 2016 Shantol starred in her first feature film “Sprinter” written and directed by Storm Saulter. Image credit: Alt Africa Red Carpet Yardie (c) L- R- Myla-Rae Hutchinson-Dunwell (Vanessa) and Shantol Jackson (Yvonne). 

1. When you found out that you were cast in Idris Elba’s directoral debut in a lead role how did you feel?

Ans- First of all thank you sooooo much and I’m really glad you enjoyed the film. When I found out I got the role I was beyond elated. I was just so humbled and grateful for the opportunity and wanted to be exceptional not just for myself but for Idris as it was his debut. I SCREAMED! Idris wanted to call me himself to offer me the role and after screaming ridiculously in his ear (which I apologized for after composing myself) his response was, “is that a yes?”

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Jackson as Yvonne Image credit Studio Canal

2. What was the characters motivation and how did you prepare for the role?

Ans- Yvonne’s motivation was to try and convince D that living in London was safer for her and Vanessa at the time. She wanted him to shift his focus from his life long agenda of wanting to avenge his brother’s death to being with her and Vanessa and creating the family they’ve both always wanted.

3. Do you see any of Yvonne in you, what did you relate to or found hard to justify in terms of her actions?

Ans- There is definitely some aspects of Yvonne in me. The passion she has for the people she loves and care about. Her willingness to speak up for what she believes in and also doing what she can to protect her family, are all qualities we both share. I didn’t necessarily find any of her actions unjustifiable. Yvonne is what we’d call a ” Strong #Jamaican Woman.” We are firm and head strong. We defend our own and protect our children at all costs. I was able to understand and relate to all the decisions she made. They were either things I personally experienced or seen displayed by my mother our aunts our other woman in my life.
4. When you read the script what did you like about it?

Ans- I liked the fact that it was a British Jamaican film. The culture was so well represented. I appreciated that though the script was surrounded by drugs and violence, the writers were able to humanize the characters. It didn’t feel like just a random gangster film. There were substantial relationships which I believe we were able to represent beautifully.

5. What was your first acting job?

Ans- I started acting at the Ardenne High School and I’ve been acting since then but my first acting “Job” was a theatre play called “Thicker Than Water” written and directed by Dahlia Harris. My first feature film was “Sprinter” which premiered at the 2018 ABFF, written and directed by Storm Saulter.

6. What was it like working with Idris as a director had you worked with him before?

Ans- I’ve never worked with Idris before and getting the opportunity  to work with him on this project was truly a blessing. He knew exactly what he wanted which made it very easy for his actors to deliver as he was always able to give us something to work with. The fact the he’s such a brilliant actor as well complimented his directing style I believe because though he was able to say this is what he wants to see, he also gave us the opportunity to do what felt natural in the moment. He respected the actor process. Big up di big man fi dat.

7.  Cinematography in the movie showed the beauty of the country which is quite rare why is that important?

ANS- Well as you said it’s very rare that we see the beauty of Jamaica in Jamaican films and so myself and all the crew that worked on Yardie in Jamaica were very excited and appreciated the fact that Idris chose to show the beauty of the island. It’s important that this side of Jamaica is highlighted because it shows that our island has much more to offer. There is beautiful landscape. And a lot of it.

8. The love story between Yvonne and Dennis was beautifully acted out by yourself and Aml and it was a strong vein that throughout the story, why was that important to the narrative?

Ans- I remember when Idris came to Jamaica for auditions and a couple days after my audition he invited myself and Aml to lunch to discuss the film and the characters. He revealed to us at the end that he mainly wanted to see the chemistry between us. So chemistry was always a major aspect of the film from inception. It was important for us to show the bond between D and Yvonne. They’ve known and loved each other from childhood. She knew his struggles and was determined to help him get through them. She was determined to fight for and with her man. She wasn’t about to lose him again and D certainly wanted this new found family.

9. How did you feel when you saw the finished movie?

Ans- I thought to myself…we created a beautiful love story. There’s so much love in Yardie. The love D expresses for his brother. The long lasting love both him and Yvonne share and the precious love they have for their princess Vanessa. A beautiful love story mixed with all the conflicts of life at the time and the demons D faced. But in the end a love story.

10. What’s next for you?

Ans- Right I am (was) awaiting the premiere of Yardie and Sprinter my first feature film, directed by Storm Saulter. And just waiting to see what happens from there. Yardie is in UK cinema’s from 31st August 2018.

Synopsis: Set in ’70s Kingston and ’80s Hackney, Yardie centres on the life of a young Jamaican man named D (Aml Ameen), who has never fully recovered from the murder, committed during his childhood, of his older brother Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary). D grows up under the wing of a Kingston Don and music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd). Fox dispatches him to London, where he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter who he’s not seen since she was a baby. Directed By Idris Elba Starring: Aml Ameen, Sheldon Shepherd, Shantol Jackson, Stephen Graham. To BOOK tickets at Vue cinemas:  https://www.myvue.com/film/yardie

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