Born in London, England, on March 20, 1979, Freema Agyeman was not interested in acting until her late teens. After several small guest television roles, she got her big break playing Lola Wise on the popular UK soap Crossroads. She was later cast as Martha Jones, the first black companion on the cult sci-fi TV favorite Doctor Who. Agyeman was later cast in a starring role on the crime drama Law & Order: UK.
Born in the Woodberry Down section of London, England, on March 20, 1979, Freema Agyeman is the daughter of an Iranian mother, Azar, and a Ghanian father, Osei Agyeman. Growing up with an older sister, Leila, and younger brother, Dominic, she was initially interested in science as a child. It wasn't until her late teens that she developed an interest in acting. Although the product of a Muslim mother and Methodist father, Agyeman grew up attending Roman Catholic schools. She also studied at the Anna Scher Theatre School, and graduated with a degree in performing arts and drama from Middlesex University.
Agyeman was five years old when her parents divorced, but the family remained close. She and her siblings learned much from both cultures, which inspired their own creativity. Freema blossomed from a quiet child into an outgoing and intellectually curious young lady.
Role on 'Crossroads'
When she started acting professionally, Agyeman initially used the spelling "Frema" for her first name to make it easier for casting directors to pronounce. After a series of small guest roles on television, she got a break when she was cast as Lola Wise on the popular soap opera Crossroads. She continued doing TV guest appearances and independent film work, including the role as a crime officer in the movie Rulers and Dealers, written and directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson.
'Doctor Who' and 'Carrie Diaries'
The actress auditioned for three different parts on the massive science fiction hit series Doctor Who, finally winning a small role as Adeola, which aired in the summer of 2006. Producers were impressed with her work and she was called back to audition for one of the show’s main roles, that of the companion to the title character. Later that summer, Agyeman was cast in the role of Martha Jones, the first black companion in the show’s history. (She also reprised the role in the show’s spinoff series, Torchwood.)
Her work on Doctor Who brought her to a wider audience, which led to her being handpicked by producer Dick Wolf to play a starring role, Alesha Phillips, in Law & Order: UK, in which she starred for three seasons.
North American audiences have also become more accustomed to seeing the talented actress due to her role on The Carrie Diaries, a prequel to the hit series Sex and the City. On the show she plays Larissa Loughlin, a fashion editor for Interview magazine.
Agyeman is trained in martial arts and did a bit of modeling when she was starting out as an actress. She remains close to her family, who continues to inspire her, and has an upper arm tattoo of the Persian word “raha,” which means “free.” She has also endorsed Divine Chocolate, a company that supports fair trade practices with Ghanaian cocoa farmers. She rarely discusses her private life and lives with her boyfriend, a real estate agent, in North London.
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