The 5-minute Interview: Kwame Kwei-Armah: Actor and playwright

'A really good play, a really good film, some jerk chicken, and I'd have conquered the world'
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The Independent Online

The actor, Kwame Kwei-Armah, 40, made his name as a playwright with 'Elmina's Kitchen', which won him a Bafta and an Olivier nomination. His 'Statement of Regret' can currently be seen at the National Theatre, and his next play, 'Let There be Love', opens next month at London's Tricycle Theatre.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Rewriting parts of my new play, because we go into rehearsal soon and I'm running a bit late.

A common misperception of me is ...

There was an article a few weeks ago claiming I'd said the I wanted to be David Hare but I didn't. I said that I admired him. Then I went to an awards ceremony and everyone was saying, "so you want to be like David Hare?"

I wish that people would take more notice ...

The poor. And that doesn't just mean poverty but I just think our empathy is on the decline rather that the rise. And I don't think we have any idea what it's really like for the real poor.

A phrase I use too often ...

"Does that make sense?"I find myself saying that all the time.

The most surprising thing that happened to me ...

Having a hit play on at the National Theatre. I couldn't have imagined that it would ever happen.

I am not a politician but ...

Increase the budget for the arts by half. I would fly in every leading educationalist from across the world to attack the under-achievement in our society.

I'm good at ...

Choosing really nice clothes.

I'm very bad at...

Time-keeping. Saying no.

The ideal night out is ...

I'd see a really, really good play followed by a really, really good film then I'd eat jerk chicken and rice and then I'd have conquered the world in one day.

You know me as a playwright but in another life I'd have been ...

I suppose maybe an academic of some sort.

The best age to be is ...

37. Man it felt really good. But so did 29. Maybe 25? You're young, but you've got real maturity.

In moments of weakness ...

I try to be strong and think clearly.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this ...

Work as hard as I can, give as much love as I can.

Alice-Azania Jarvis

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