Freema Agyeman (/ /; born Frema Agyeman, Persian: فریما اگیمن; 20 March 1979) is a British actress who's known for playing Martha Jones in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who and its spin-off series Torchwood. Following her departure from Doctor Who and guest spots in BBC programme Little Dorrit, Agyeman held a starring role as Alesha Phillips in the crime procedural drama Law & Order: UK between 2009 and 2012. In 2013, she made her US television debut on The CW's teen drama The Carrie Diaries as Larissa Loughlin, a style editor at Interview magazine. Other television appearances include Old Jack's Boat, Silent Witness, Survivors and the Netflix drama Sense8. Agyemen additionally appeared as Penny in the 2015 film North v South.
Background and personal life
Agyeman began life in London. Her mother, Azar, is Iranian, and her father, Osei, is Ghanaian. They divorced when she had been a child. Agyeman has an older sister, Leila, and a younger brother, Dominic. Although her mom is Muslim and her dad Methodist, Agyeman grew up to be a practising Roman Catholic. Agyeman attended Our Lady's Convent RC High School, a Catholic school in Stamford Hill and throughout the summer of 1996 she studied at the Anna Scher Theatre School in Islington and studied performing arts and drama at Middlesex University, graduating in 2000. Agyeman has martial arts skills, which prompted speculation that she would bring a more physical approach to the role of the Doctor's companion. The tattoo Agyeman has on her upper arm is symbolic of her ancestry, containing the Persian word "raha", meaning "free", under an image of a butterfly. Agyeman endorses Divine Chocolate, a fairtrade corporation that works with Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
When Agyeman began her professional acting career, she chose to use a different spelling of her birth name, Frema, as her professional name, to avoid pronunciation problems.
Before securing the part of Martha Jones, Agyeman's most famous television role was playing Lola Wise in the revived series of ITV soap opera Crossroads. She additionally had small guest roles in additional TV series like Casualty, Mile High and The Bill, in which she appeared on two occasions as two separate characters. In 2005, Agyeman played Mary Ogden, a scene of crime officer, in an episode of Silent Witness.
Agyeman starred as Nana in the independent film Rulers and Dealers, written and directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson.
Doctor Who (2005–2010)
Agyeman auditioned for three roles in the 2006 series of Doctor Who. On 24 June 2005, she auditioned for the part of Sally Jacobs in "The Christmas Invasion", but the role went to Anita Briem, who better fitted the production team's concept of the character as an "ice cool blonde". Agyeman later auditioned for the roles of Esme and Adeola Oshodi, in the "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" and "Army of Ghosts", respectively. Esme was ultimately cut from the final script, but Agyeman was successful in her audition for Adeola. She filmed her role in the series in December 2005 and appeared on screen as Adeola on 1 July 2006.
The production team were impressed by the versatility shown by Agyeman across her three auditions and called her back as a serious candidate for the new companion. She attended another audition (ostensibly for an episode of Torchwood) before a final screen-test with Tenth Doctor actor, David Tennant. Tennant left a reassuring note under the door of Agyeman's hotel room, and this helped calm any nerves the actress had. Following extensive speculation on who would replace Billie Piper, Agyeman was confirmed to the press as new companion Martha Jones on 5 July 2006.
Agyeman began filming for the third series in August 2006 and finished in March 2007. She made her screen debut as Martha on 31 March 2007 in the episode "Smith and Jones". A line of dialogue explains that Adeola was Martha's cousin. Agyeman continued to portray the character Martha throughout every episode of the 2007 series. Agyeman returned as Martha in series 4 for five episodes. Following the final episode of the fourth series, Agyeman stated that she would be open to reprising the role. She later returned to the series along with several additional former cast members to mark David Tennant's final appearance in The End of Time. Concurrent with her appearance on the show, Agyeman read abridged audiobook adaptations of five of the Doctor Who New Series Adventures novels featuring Martha, namely The Last Dodo, Wetworld, The Pirate Loop, Martha in the Mirror and The Story of Martha.
In between series three and series four of Doctor Who, Agyeman appeared in three episodes of series 2 of Doctor Who spin off Torchwood, namely "Reset", "Dead Man Walking" and "A Day in the Death". She additionally had a starring role in the Torchwood radio play, Lost Souls, broadcast on BBC Radio Four on 10 September 2008 to promote the turning on of the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN research facility. It was later revealed by Torchwood: Children of Earth director Euros Lyn that the production team had intended for Agyeman to seem in that production, but she had been already committed to Law & Order: UK. In a video interview conducted at the Law and Order: UK press launch, Agyeman doesn't rule out a return to Torchwood, stating that "it's always a possibility." Torchwood creator and head writer Russell T. Davies, additionally responsible for Doctor Who, subsequently affirmed that he would be open to casting Agyeman in a future series of Torchwood.
Agyeman appeared several times on The Bedtime Hour on CBeebies reading the storey broadcast shortly before 7.00pm. She narrated the first series of BBC Three's hospital documentary series Bizarre ER which ran from 14 February 2008 to 3 April 2008 and additionally provided the narration for a second series which began airing on Tuesday 21 April 2009. Agyeman hosted a Doctor Who-themed portion of the BBC Proms on 27 July. A one-hour cut-down version of the prom made its TV début on BBC1, New Year's Day, 2009.
On 25 April 2008, Agyeman appeared on The Paul O'Grady Show. She made another appearance on the show on 26 March 2009.
Agyeman played foundling girl Tattycoram in the Emmy Award winning 2008 BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, which began on 26 October 2008, starring alongside her fellow Torchwood stars Eve Myles and Ruth Jones. Some of Agyeman's scenes for the first episode were shot in the grounds of Deal Castle, Kent, which doubled for Marseille, France. Agyeman was delighted to have appeared in Little Dorrit, as it had always been a dream of hers to seem in a period drama. In 2008 Agyeman additionally appeared in Survivors, a BBC 1 remake of the cult 1970s TV series, as Jenny Walsh (surname originally reported to be Collins), although her character was killed off in the first episode in a shock twist notwithstanding featuring prominently in promotional materials for the series. Between 2009 and 2012, Agyeman starred as Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips in Law & Order: UK, a UK adaptation and spin-off from the popular US Law & Order franchise. Agyeman is a self-professed "massive fan" of the original Law & Order series, especially Seasons 3 and 4. In preparation for the role, Agyeman sat in on live trials, toured the Old Bailey, and conferred with her law-degree holding sister, Leila: "She's great and really patient at explaining things to laymen, because I was coming at it completely blind. She's been a good source." She remained with the programme for its first six series departing the cast before the seventh series due to additional filming commitments.
In March 2012, it was announced that Agyeman would play Larissa, "an easy-going party girl who works at Interview magazine" in the pilot of Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries. In early 2013, she starred in the Cbeebies television series Old Jack's Boat as Shelley.
Agyeman appears in the Netflix series Sense8, released in June 2015, created by J. Michael Straczynski and Lilly and Lana Wachowski. She is a series regular and plays Amanita, the girlfriend of Nomi, a sensate.
Awards and recognition
In June 2007, Agyeman was named "Best Newcomer" at the 2007 "Glamour Women of the Year Awards". The same year she won the 2007 People's Choice category for "Female TV Star" in the fifth annual Screen Nation Film and TV Awards, held on 15 October 2007 at the Hilton Metropole in London.
In 2007, Agyeman was one of the top four nominations for best actress in the National Television Awards, for playing Martha Jones in the 2007 series of Doctor Who. She had been additionally nominated for Best Actress in the TV Quick Awards the same year for her role in Doctor Who.
Agyeman was additionally longlisted for the 2010 National Television Awards for best dramatic performance for her role as Crown Prosecutor, Alesha Phillips.
|2004||Aisha the American||Shaheen||Short film|
|2006||Rulers and Dealers||Nana|
|2015||North v South||Pennyars|
|2003||Crossroads||Lola Wise||Unknown episodes|
|2004||Bill, TheThe Bill||Jenna Carter||Episode: "Episode 232"|
|2004||Casualty@Holby City||Kate Hindley||Episode: "Casualty@Holby City: Part One"|
|2005||Mile High||Girl #1||Series 2, episode 26|
|2005||Silent Witness||Mary Ogden||Episode: "Choices: Part 1"|
|2006||Bill, TheThe Bill||Shakira Washington||2 episodes|
|2006||Doctor Who||Adeola Oshodi||Episode: "Army of Ghosts"|
|2007–2010||Doctor Who||Martha Jones||Series 3 (19 episodes)|
|2007–2008||Doctor Who Confidential||Herself||13 episodes|
|2007||Totally Doctor Who||Herself||7 episodes|
|2007||Infinite Quest, TheThe Infinite Quest||Martha Jones (Voice)||13 episodes|
|2007||Omid Djalili Show, TheThe Omid Djalili Show||Herself||Series 1, episode 3|
|2008||Torchwood||Martha Jones||Series 2 (Recurring, 3 episodes)|
|2008–2010||Bizarre ER||Herself||Narrator (series 1–3); 30 episodes|
|2008||Torchwood Declassified||Herself||2 episodes|
|2008||Little Dorrit||Tattycoram||Miniseries; 8 episodes|
|2008||Survivors||Jenny Walsh||2 episodes|
|2009–2012||Law & Order: UK||Alesha Phillips||Series 1-6 (Main Cast, 39 episodes)|
|2013–2014||Carrie Diaries, TheThe Carrie Diaries||Larissa Loughlin||(Main cast, 22 episodes)|
|2013||Old Jack's Boat||Shelly Periwinkle||Series 1 (Main Cast, 12 episodes)|
|2015–present||Sense8||Amanita||Season 1-present (Main Cast, 12 episodes)|
Audio and radio
|2007||Last Dodo, TheThe Last Dodo||Narrator||Doctor Who audiobook|
|2007||Wetworld||Narrator||Doctor Who audiobook|
|2007||Pirate Loop, TheThe Pirate Loop||Narrator||Doctor Who audiobook|
|2008||Martha in the Mirror||Narrator||Doctor Who audiobook|
|2008||Lost Souls||Martha Jones||Full cast audio drama|
|2008||Story of Martha, TheThe Story of Martha||Narrator||Doctor Who audiobook|
|2014||Six Degrees of Assassination: An Audible Drama||Ellen Townsend|
|2001–2002||When Snow Falls||T||By Chris Elwell|
|2001||Twisted Roots||Anya Starr||By Emily Nightingale|
|2002||Lords and Ladies||Various roles||Originally by Terry Pratchett|
|2008||Doctor Who Prom||Host||Musical celebration, 27 July 2008|