Bustle Booth

Adelayo Adedayo Is Rooting For The Rookie, Too

The Responder star on her love of Insecure, comedy, and fresh starts.

Adelayo Adedayo Is Rooting For The Rookie, Too
Courtesy of Adelayo Adedayo

Acting wasn’t Adelayo Adedayo’s first calling in life. In fact, she only got into it at the age of eighteen as a way of beefing up her hobbies section in her uni application, she tells me. Though intent on studying law, she fell in love with the stage while attending Hackney’s Identity School of Acting, which first opened in 2003 with a few hundred quid and ten students to its name. Years later, it’s a powerhouse force in the acting world, counting Hollywood names like John Boyega, Letitia Wright, and Malachi Kirby among its alumni.

Adedayo still pursued law and wrapped up her degree, “[but] I decided to stick to acting,” she says with a smile. Now starring opposite Martin Freeman in BBC’s The Responder, it looks like Adedayo might just be Identity’s next new break-out star.

Written by Tony Schumacher – a former police officer turned screenwriter – the five-part series follows the tense partnership between two mismatched first responders in the Merseyside Police force. A fresh-faced rookie two weeks into the job, Adedayo’s character, Rachel, joins the force to make a difference and protect people, but her jaded new partner, Chris Carson (Freeman), is broken by the toll of endless nights on the beat. In her very first scenes, we see Rachel talking back to her superiors, and questioning her fellow officer’s use of excessive force. Her character’s steadfast belief is what first drew Adedayo to the role.

“She comes in, two weeks on the job, and talks to both of her superiors in the same way; she’s really expressing what she thinks is right and wrong,” she explains. “To do that, as a rookie, is incredibly brave, and I was really drawn to that. It felt like there was a bit of a desperation there, and I really wanted to know where that was coming from. Before I started shooting, I didn’t know! But as the show goes on, we start to see a lot more of what pushes her, and we really learn where this need for control comes from.”

You might well recognise Adedayo from her earlier leading role in BBC sitcom Some Girls, as well as appearances in Skins, Timewasters, and Sket. Last year, the actor completed a run of theatre dates at west London’s Royal Court, starring in Is God Is – a contemporary Greek tragedy fusing Afropunk and hip-hop with a bleak strain of black comedy.

Despite its heavy subject matter, The Responder also shares this biting sense of humour. In its opening moments, we follow a standard night on call for Chris, and sandwiched between burned-out cars and raucous crowds spilling out of Liverpool clubs, a runaway alpaca legs it across the road. Ridiculous as it may seem, it’s an issue police have genuinely dealt with in the past.

“I’m really drawn to comedic drama because I think it’s a really good reflection of life,” explains Adedayo. “In situations where you might not be having the best day, or things aren’t quite going your way… something always happens. A friend will say something and you have a little giggle. Life goes between the two extremes, and it feels very representative. Comedy is joy and it makes people smile. That’s fun.”

Get to know Adelayo Adedayo better in the Bustle Booth, below.

In the Bustle Booth

What's your coffee order?

An oat-milk mocha, which is not really a coffee. It’s half a coffee!

What are the saved weather locations on your phone?

I actually don’t have any saved weather locations, but I have time zones saved for different places. I’ve got London and LA, and then Lagos, Nigeria, where my family is from. And then New York. I’ve got family there as well.

What’s your sign?

Sagittarius. We’re meant to be super adventurous and really spontaneous. I would like to think I’m adventurous, in the right circumstances.

Favourite overused movie quote?

“She doesn’t even go here.”

What was your favourite cartoon as a kid?

The Powerpuff Girls. I just really loved all three of them.

What’s one film or TV show you're currently obsessed with?

Insecure. I could watch that from the beginning again, over and over again. The mix between comedy and drama is brilliant, and it’s so relatable.

Who is your celeb idol?

I love listening to Denzel Washington in interviews. I think Rihanna is an incredible business-woman. And Issa Rae, who created Insecure, as well. I don’t really have one idol, but those are a few people I really love and admire.

If you had to be on a reality TV show, what would it be?

The Circle. I like the idea of making friends without anything to judge them by – you just get to know their personalities.

Go-to karaoke song?

“No Scrubs” by TLC; all the time, every time.

What’s something that’s inspiring you lately?

The fact that it’s a new year. I just love the idea of newness and hope, and fresh opportunities.

What is something you would want people to say about you?

I would love people to say that I’m kind. I think it’s that simple, and the world needs a bit more of that.