SO who knew?

Sunday, August 12, 2012    

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ON camera it would well have played out like a fairy tale that from the quiet village of Party Hill, Hanover, emerged one of London's notable black actresses. Indeed, that is the story of Dõna Croll. When SO caught up with Croll amidst the glorious Jamaica celebrations here in London, her vibrant and welcoming personality was enough to command our full attention.

Born in 1953 to property developer Herbert Croll and his wife, the Reverend Pearlina Croll, Dõna and her family migrated to the United Kindom in 1957. She tells SO, "They set up their own church, and I think were a little disappointed when I didn't follow in their footsteps!"

Differences aside, Croll remains humbled by her successes over her more than three decades in theatre and film, admitting that acting was never a field she originally considered. "I was encouraged to become an actress by both my drama teacher Miss Lowry, and my English language and literature teacher Ken Smallwood, while at Swanshurst Grammar School. They spotted my love of language, communication, mimicry, and showing off!" As it was, Croll's mum had taught her to read ahead of attending school, where she surpassed the expectations of not only her peers, but also her teachers.

Croll began working as an actress in the '70s, having nurtured her talents at Birmingham Theatre School. Her talent and good fortune had her build a career and good reputation quite quickly. We make no idle boast when we say her illustrious career has seen her appear in more than 40 titles in film and Broadway. She's best known for her portrayal of Pearl in the Channel 5 soap Family Affairs, a role she played for three years. Croll gushes that she is particularly proud of her appearance in the West End, in two award-winning plays, Serious Money in 1987 and Elmina's Kitchen in 2005. She notes her roles in Hallelujah Anyhow and Manderlay as her favourites for film. As for her roles in series and soap opera, she has too many to choose favourites, but insists, "I must thank my fellow Jamaicans for their support in everything I do. I appear on TV in their front rooms and they always give me words of encouragement when they spot me on the road!" One such Jamaican is Jean 'Binta' Breeze, the "godmother of the dub poetry", who Croll discovered, while the two worked on a film in London, she was not only related to, but was also from Party Hill, Hanover.

And true to herself, Croll concludes, "In this business you can always be striving to have the career of Elizabeth Taylor. I never compare my career with anybody else's or wish I could achieve Hollywood stardom because you never know, I could still do that." She is currently filming a new murder/mystery series in Dublin called Ice Cream Girls.

— As told to SO



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