Updated: Jun 8
Can you tell us a bit about your background as an actress, singer/songwriter, and model from London?
I fell in love with performing at a young age, i would dance and perform at family parties, then i started taking part in school talent shows when i got into singing and acting. It was always my dream to be actress and singer. After landing a few small plays in London, i moved to LA to focus on working in TV & film. LA was a great decision, it brought so many opportunities and it also got me into modelling. I would work for LA clothing brands as a side hustle while i auditioned for acting roles. I also started working with a few LA rappers and producers and got into the music scene, which pushed me into writing my own music.
Congratulations on your role in the MBC show 'Slave Market.' How did you become involved in the project?
Thank you so much. My manager told me about the project, it was posted on the casting platform 'spotlight'. It sounded incredible and i told her to submit me. My showreels were submitted to the casting team and after a few emails back and fourth with my manager i was offered the role of 'Fatuma' one of the main characters in the African storyline.
What attracted you to the role of an African slave in the show?
It was something i had never done before and something that would challenge my acting abilities. I have watched so many slave movies and always thought that, that kind of acting was probably one of the hardest to do, so when i was offered this role i was excited to take on the responsibility of capturing such a hard topic of history and making it as authentic as possible.
Could you share your experience filming both seasons of 'Slave Market' in Egypt? What were some memorable moments or challenges you faced?
I was beyond excited that the show was filming in Egypt as i had dreamed of going to Egypt for so long, i was always so fascinated with the History of Egypt and visiting the pyramids, it was an incredible experience. That was definitely a memorable moment in Egypt. While filming i was very impressed with a lot of the sets on location, the village that my character was from was built from scratch and so was the ship that we filmed on so that was very cool to see. In terms of challenges, i think working with a foreign production was a little challenging. things were done a lot differently than how they are done in the Western world, there was a language and culture barrier. I think as someone that worked in the UK & US i had to get used to how they did things overseas.
How did you prepare for your role as an African slave captured from her village and sold to slavery in the Middle East?
When i got my script and learned about my character, i tried to think of how i would be feeling in that situation, its hard of course because i hadn't lived it, but i tried to imagine the pain and sadness that my character was going through. I also looked back at other slave movies and studied the emotions. Capturing an emotion is hard because you have to feel it, it was very important to get that aspect of the character right.
What aspects of your character did you find most challenging to portray? How did you overcome those challenges?
My character was the leader of the African women, she stayed strong and tried to hold the other women up, she was also a mother trying to protect her children, this was a challenge because i couldn't imagine being strong in this kind of situation while trying to help all the other women. I thought about how i would feel if someone trying to do that to me now, in 2023 and what i would do, i would fight, i would lead. So i used that and put it into the character.
'Slave Market' season one was released in January 2023. How did audiences react to the show and your performance?
The show received a lot of praise, its such a different show, its not only about the African storyline, it also tells the stories of four other ethnic groups and the struggles they faced in slavery. That's what makes Slave Market so unique and entertaining. Fatuma is a loved character, a lot of people like her because of her leadership and what she went through so i got a lot of great feedback playing her.
With season two airing next year, can you give us any insights into what we can expect from your character and the overall storyline?
Season one didn't end well for Fatuma, she lost her husband and her children have been separated from her. In season two you can expect a different Fatuma she is more distraught, lost and at the same time still hoping for the best, she is still leading the women that she is with as its in her nature but deep down she is broken with not being with her family. She has a lot of challenges in her new life as a slave. But you'll have to tune in to see.
In what ways has playing this character affected you personally and professionally?
Personally it has given me a small insight into what people have been facing and continue to face in rural parts of the world, as much as you learned in school about the slave trade actually acting as a slave brings a whole new perspective. Professionally this was such a great role to play, i love a challenge and i was really challenged for this role, even when i thought i was giving the most emotion i could give, when the directed asked for more i was able to convey more. I loved going deeper than i had been before.
Were there any particular scenes or moments in the show that were emotionally intense or difficult for you as an actress? How did you handle those situations?
Yes there was the first time we shot the scene on the ship, there was about 200 African female extras and they told us that we were going to be shackled together for the scene. The shackles were placed on top of both shoulders and we were all connected, meaning if someone fell, we would all fall with her. That made the scene a little too real. I remember feeling claustrophobic and uncomfortable and it made me think, i was just an actor, i can come out of these shackles at anytime, but thousands of enslaved Africans really went through this. It was surreal.
What do you hope viewers take away from watching 'Slave Market' and your portrayal of the character?
I hope viewers understand the pain of this story, the history and battles that these people faced. Fatuma is not a real person but her story is one that has happened to thousands of people in African history. I hope they fall in love with the characters and their journey.
As an artist, how do you balance your work in acting, music, and modeling? Do these different artistic expressions influence and inspire each other?
I love this question and i love every aspect of my artistry and i do believe in some way they complete each other. For me acting is not Justina, i am whoever the character is. once i get a script and learn about my character i remove Justina from the equation. Music that's all Justina, this is my song, my vibe, my style. I'm not acting i don't have a character to play. I actually think music is more vulnerable because when you're acting, if you're playing the bad guy, you're character is not liked, but that doesn't effect who you are because you are acting, but as a musician, if they don't like your song, or your vibe or your music video, that's all you. Its a completely different world but they really compliment each other because these different abilities make me who i am. I love playing new characters and filming, but i also love creating music. I couldn't choose which one i would rather do, so i do both. Modelling is fun but its usually about the brand you are working for, i love shooting for brands and helping them bring their vision to life. Being in front of the camera is my favourite thing, whether that's acting, singing or modelling.
Are there any other projects or roles that you are currently working on or have planned for the future?
Yes but nothing i can share at the moment. I can share that i'm working on a few projects that i wrote with my production company 'Justina Productions' but again nothing i can share just yet, maybe in the next interview, ha.
In terms of music, i am releasing my EP in September which is really exciting, its my first album. Stay tuned.
How has your experience on 'Slave Market' influenced your career and opened up new opportunities for you?
It has influenced me to go for acting jobs i wouldn't usually be cast for, i used to think that there was certain types of 'roles' that i could get, like the 'girl next door', the 'it girl', the 'pretty' character, but now i know i can go for any role. My scenes in the show were stripped back, no makeup, no glits and glam, very roar. With those scenes being added to my showreel it has opened doors to more serious roles. And i'm ready and excited for the challenge and next project.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring actors, singers/songwriters, and models who are looking to pursue their dreams in the entertainment industry?
Keep dreaming and dream big. Its a tough industry where you hear the word 'no' more than you hear the word, 'yes'. But stay strong and keep believing that its going to happen. Keep auditioning, keep studying your craft and keep grinding. Never , ever give up. The best things in life are not easy, if it was easy it wouldn't be fun or worth it. You can do this.
Artist: Justina Biosah @officialjustina
Photographer: Barbara Biosah
Fashion Designer: DUMEBI @atelier_dumebi