Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE is a Swedish-based English theatre actress and director of African descent, who was born in London and has been living and working in Sweden for many years. After leading The National Touring Swedish Deaf Theatre ensemble TystTeater as the artistic director for more than 13 years, she accepted a position as professor and Head of Theatre Department at Stockholm University Of The Arts.
Josette Bushell-Mingo was born in 1964 in Lewisham, south-east London, to Guyanese parents – her father was a bus driver, her mother a nurse – and grew up in Plaistow, going on to train at Barking College in Technology, Romford.
In 1999 she appeared as Solveig in the Royal Exchange, Manchester production of Peer Gynt and returned to Manchester in 2005 to play Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra. Both productions were directed by Braham Murray. She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2000 for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Rafiki in the London production of The Lion King.
In 2001, she founded a black-led arts festival called PUSH at the Young Vic. In 2006 she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2007 she directed the theatrical production of Margaret Atwood’s novella The Penelopiad. One of her three international projects of 2009 was to direct A Midsummer Nights Dream at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, a project involving second-year acting students and numerous other departments from both inside and outside the school. Her production of The Odyssey, performed in Swedish Sign Language received huge critical acclaim in Scandinavia. She is also one of the nine board members of the Swedish Film Institute.
In 2016 she started performing Nina – A Story About Me and Nina Simone at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool, a “deeply personal and often searing show inspired by the singer and activist Nina Simone. In July 2017, the show ran at the Young Vic, before being scheduled to move to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre.
Honours and awards:
- 1992: Plays and Players player of the year for her RSC season
- 1993: Manchester Evening News best actress award for From the Mississippi Delta
- 2000: Laurence Olivier Award
- 2006: OBE for services to the theatre in the Queen’s Birthday Honours
- 2012: Stockholm Culture Prize for outstanding promotion of stage arts in Swedish sign language.
- 2017: Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
- 2019: Expressens Kulturpris
- 2019: Ganneviksstipendiet