On my radar: Omari Douglas’ cultural highlights | Culture
AComedian Omari Douglas was born in Wolverhampton in 1994 and trained at the Arts Educational Schools in London, where he graduated in 2015. Earlier this year he made his television debut playing Roscoe Babatunde in It’s a sin, Russell T Davies’ Channel 4 drama about the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. His theater credits include To rush (King’s Head Theater), Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air) and Emma Rice’s Old Vic adaptation Good children. On June 16, Douglas will be in conversation with Davies to a Guardian Live event; next month he appears in Constellation at Donmar.
My cousin used to make me watch Eurovision with her when I was little, so I carry on the tradition. I watched the final with friends and it was the best ceremony in years. There were a few remarkable songs that I literally can’t stop playing: one is Sugar, the Moldovan entry – which is bonkers – from Natalia Gordienko, and Loco Loco, from this Serbian girl group called Hurricane. The aesthetics were absolutely brilliant. The hurricane looked like it might have been ignited Real housewives, and they did this amazing dance routine. So I blew it up.
I came across this musical documentary when Lauren Laverne was interviewing [director] Asif Kapadia on it [BBC Radio 6 Music] show. She mentioned the title and I thought, “Oh, I read this book, it’s by David Hepworth”. It’s basically about highlighting what musicians were doing as artists in order to politically reflect that era, and it’s completely fascinating to see how those two things came together. There is a shiny section on ounce magazine and the rise of censorship, and Marc Bolan, and how David Bowie went from an underground figure to a global superstar.
A few weeks ago I listened to this podcast on the music version of Carrie, which was commissioned for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988. There was a hoo-ha about it; many Puritans said, “We can’t believe the RSC is offering a musical version of a Stephen King novel. He transferred to Broadway and flopped. The podcast gives you lots of funny anecdotes about the show’s staging; they talk to the actors and separate the production. I’m a fan of musical theater, so it was fascinating to hear him perform.
The real life of Brandon Taylor
I read this while in lockdown and absolutely loved it. It’s about this postgraduate science student in the United States and his life as a millennial queer black man navigating a very white space. Brandon Taylor writes fascinating and complex characters: he has a really good way of capturing everything that is going on internally for people, and his attention to detail is amazing. He has a new book coming out later this month called Dirty animals, which I look forward to, and he publishes a very interesting weekly newsletter. Her writing is so crisp and I love all of her references.
Since we were able to go to the stores, I returned to this vintage clothing store. It’s really well put together by a cool Swedish lady called Ameli Lindgren – I always ask her where she gets her stuff from and she just says, “I’m not telling you.” There are a lot of pieces from the 70s in there: beautiful Missoni knitwear, Gucci jewelry. A lot of the clothes in my wardrobe are second-hand, and I’m not really interested in the labels, but I appreciate the quality of the pieces. I managed to find a suit there for my cousin’s wedding, so it’s pretty good.
I am in a few episodes. It’s a comedy about an all-female Muslim punk rock band and Anjana Vasan, who is an incredible actress, plays a misfit who ends up auditioning for the band. It’s captivating: they were very brave in the way they told the story – sometimes it catches you off guard. They’re just going to throw a musical number in there, or there’s going to be a big, fantastic streak. All of the actresses are immensely talented because they play all the music themselves and sing. It’s fun and subversive and I can’t wait to see where it goes.