Had it not been for the novel coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions on mass gatherings in Jamaica, Lashana Lynch, star of No time To Die — the latest in the James Bond franchise — had planned to be in Jamaica for the première of the film, which was being planned for iconic local cinema Carib 5 in the Corporate Area.
This was revealed by Natalie Thompson of the local film company Cinecom, who worked as line producer for No Time To Die while it was being filmed on location here in Jamaica back in 2019.
“A lovely lady... So sad that we will not have a première here, but COVID has put a stop to those plans; Lashana was planning to be here for that,” Thompson revealed in a post on social media.
The comment came after Lynch wore a stunning evening gown at the world première of the film at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Tuesday. The gown, in gold and black, featured an embroidered humming bird detail, which was an homage to her Jamaican roots as well as the fact that Jamaica is the birthplace of the James Bond character created by novelist Ian Flemming at his Golden Eye retreat in St Mary.
This was by no means her first nod to and acknowledgement of the land of her parents' birth. In fact, Lynch has made Jamaica a part of her ongoing narrative at every step of her fast-rising career.
In April 2019, when the film was launched at Golden Eye, now a resort owned by Chris Blackwell, the Jamaica Observer had a brief exchange with Lynch. She confirmed in an authentic Jamaican accent that her parents are from Spanish Town, and it was not her first time on the island.
“No, Sah, not my first time… Mi jus' a come een an' integrate inna di ting,” she said jokingly. During the official press interview she shared the significance of the 25th instalment returning to shoot in Jamaica, and what it meant to her.
“Just to come to Jamaica for work is bizarre to me. I was speaking to my mom about coming and she said,'It's just so crazy that you're not going there on holiday to just chill with family.' So to be here knowing that we are representing my culture in a franchise that has been running for so long, it blows my mind, but I feel very, very proud that we are able to embrace such beautiful people in Jamaica, we are able to include them in this British movie, and able to mesh the two cultures much like I grew up doing... I'm British and Jamaican at the same time, so I get to show that on screen,” she declared.
Lynch is also keen to share her Jamaican culture with the cast and crew. On the last day of shooting No Time To Die in October 2019, at Pinewood Studios, just west of central London, she ordered a little Jamaican cuisine for her fellow castmates and the crew.
“And that's a wrap! An emotional last day BUT I got the crew dem patties and a jerk pan on wrap soooo, we good! #NoTimeToDie,” she posted on her Instagram page.
Lynch was born on November 27, 1987 in Shepherd's Bush, a district of West London, England, within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. She is a second-generation Jamaican child of a Windrush family. Her father, a social worker, and her mother, a housing manager, separated when Lynch was young. She grew up with her mother Sylvia, whom she credits with instilling a strong Jamaican pride in her.
“Being Jamaican is… there's an attitude and a swagger that comes with just being born into a Jamaican family. You know how to stand up for yourself; pretty instantly, like out of the womb, you're already taking charge,” Lynch shared in an interview.
Lynch made her film début in the 2012 drama Fast Girls. She later co-starred in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television film The 7.39.1. She has also appeared in Silent Witness and Death in Paradise on television, and was a regular cast member on the shortlived BBC comedy Crims in 2015.
Also in 2015, she starred opposite Lenny Henry in the title role of the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Educating Rita by Willy Russell, which played in the Minerva Theatre from June 18 to July 25. In 2016, Lynch was cast as leading character Rosaline Capulet in the American period drama series Still Star-Crossed, produced by Shonda Rhimes. In 2019 she played fighter pilot Maria Rambeau in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Captain Marvel.
So following the reception to her Jamaica-inspired ball gown on the red carpet last Tuesday, Lynch again took to social media to share her words of gratitude.
“There's this one specific ancestor holding my face throughout this experience. Her energy is regal and radical, yet unpredictable and mysterious. I've learned from her that, having been on this Earth before, I have a responsibility to choose everything that I am. The balance is what's made me choose this moment. Breathe it in, stand on my square, and take it. From this place I saw my inner child, women I was raised with, prayers, love, and, at the core, Jamaica. Thank you, ancestors, for passing down your loud and unshakable gut that leads me to decisions like this. Jamaica runs both through my veins and the James Bond franchise. And turning that synchronicity into what you see here is a moment I'll never forget. Thank you, @karlawelchstylist, for your brilliance. @ viviennewestwood, thank you for giving me the space to celebrate being a Londonborn Jamaican in the most eloquent way. Discussing how to encapsulate the island's beauty through fashion has been the most incredible experience. Seeing the flags colours and doctor bird glow on our No Time To Die red carpet… There are still no words. Well, one… Legacy,” said Lynch.
No Time To Die opens at local cinemas on Friday, October 8.