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Real Life Stories
By: Adaobi Iwenofu & Angela Douglas
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As she swished her way round the media room, charming the pants off every he, she, shemale that was in there, we knew that it was going to be love at first meeting.


Greeting us with a merry chorus of hello, hello, hello & laughter – Tameeka Empson is a petite dynamo firecracker that exudes great warmth. Not hard to see why she is so well loved on our TV screens [Eastenders BBC 1].


DS: Hello diva – you are with DivaScribe and Urban Jazz Radio today.

TE: Jazz Radio too? Oh beautiful – I love Jazz. I like to drive along and then feel the jazz, it’s nice to listen to a bit of jazz now and again.

DS: We saw you at the Screen Nation Awards last year, did you enjoy the ceremony?

TE: It was very good, and I won! [Best Television Personality], which was lovely - so I am waiting for my award which will be inscribed with diamonds!


DS: (Laughs) OK…You are such a big personality Tameeka – it’s almost difficult to know how to rein things in and remember the questions we wanted to ask you. Ok business now. We also saw you in passing at the Miss Afropolitan at the V&A museum summer last year, how did you find that?

TE: That was really good, very interesting. It was interesting to see how people looked at the African life & fashion, and how some people had to westernise it and put their own mark on that. I missed the talk though because I wanted to be there for it. I think it is a great thing, and now we can look at Africa very differently. The stereotypes that you hear, you know - you hear some of the comedians talk about it, it is enough now – you know what I mean? [rhetoric]. There are other aspects of Africa that we need to celebrate. So if we can do that, I think it is great.


DS: You also took part in ‘I Am Possible’?  Why did you champion it?

TE: When we had the talk I found it very inspirational. We had a variety of women of colour that were in different fields. You had the entertainment, news, political and a writer and author! You know – it was very inspiring to the audience because they saw people that looked like them and they all had a story to tell. For me, I was hosting it and it was a really good experience. I love being myself [DS interjects and let her know we love her]. Oh merci beaucoup – DivaScribe… DivaScribe

For me it is about being you, and I like learning. I think you never grow too old to learn and you can always learn from somebody else – especially as women. Because women we always have someone to look after, we are wives, girlfriends, and mothers. We are the ones that have to really nurture. It was a very inspirational night and a lot of people were talking about it for like weeks after and I am hoping that they will be doing another one.


DS: On your career, how did it feel getting a part in Eastenders?

TE: Oh it was great! You know an actor wants to work. You know your stuff but also want to show the world. So when you are working on a top show like Eastenders it is a good thing. And it’s quite good, because they give me scope to improvise and change it up a little bit. Playing Kim is a very good character to play, she keeps me in check - I have to go to the gym (laughs)! It’s really good, I enjoy playing her and I like that people like Kim.

There is a lovely celebration between Denise and Kim, because they are very different, but very much the same. Though Kim is more of the party animal and Denise is more conservative and keeps things in check. Kim is more let’s just go and have fun and relax.


DS: How do you cope with being a household name and recognised everywhere you go now, shopping must be a nightmare?

TE: To be honest with you, I do my shopping very late at night (chuckles). I can’t be bothered with the queue and I have never liked queues, so I shop late at night. But I have sort of got used to people seeing me; you know I am in their living rooms [TV] a lot of the time. At the same time for me, I am an actress and I work – that’s what I do. And all the other little perks are good and I appreciate it. I appreciate spending time with people that want to get a picture or have an autograph. I speak with them which is nice.


DS: Would you class yourself more as a comedian or an actress?

TE: Yeah…I did a lot of comedy before and acting too. I suppose in my acting, I have done more comedic roles but I have done quite a few serious parts as well. But I think people know and love me more as a comedic actress. I don’t really mind, but I am an actor.


DS: What was your first film?

TE: My first ever film was ‘Beautiful Things’, written by Jonathan Harvey - and it took me to the Cannes Film Festival.  Jonathan also wrote me into a sitcom called ‘Beautiful People’, which was really lovely because he named the character Tameeka. He killed me off in the first season and brought me back in the second (laughs).  It’s comedy so you can get away with it. I have done a lot of theatre as well ‘The Big Life’ also did ‘Top Girls’ [Aldwych Theatre], ‘Our House’ – which was a musical of madness [Cambridge Theatre]. So those are the main things that I think people would have seen and a few others as well. But bottom line, I just like to work on my craft.


DS:  Would you imagine yourself in Eastenders in the next 30 years?

TE: No (laughs), not in the next 30 years (chuckles). A little while still, it would be lovely. But there are other things that I want to do, I want to direct, I want to write and I want to go to America…There are things that I personally want to do. Eastenders is really good, and if I leave I will still like to go back, because you never really know what the future holds.


DS: And if they kill you off?

TE: No, we don’t want that (laughs), let’s not put that out in the universe. Let’s draw that back (mock harsh tone). Yeah, it will be nice doing other things as well, but at the moment I am happy playing Kim.


DS: Great to know as we don’t want you off our screens. Ok you admitted to seeing DivaScribe, did you just flick through, or read it? What are your thoughts about it?

TE: I liked it (laughs), seriously any magazine that can show the female aspect of life is fantastic and magazines like DivaScribe are always good because they highlight things that are not in the mainstream. It is really good lifestyle mag and I am on it! (laughs).


Tameeka Empson is a DIVA = D-ivinely I-nspirational & V-ivaciously A-stounding

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