A British actor has revealed how his mum stepped in to help after he grew frustrated with being offered ‘terrorist or drug dealer’ roles – by taking a playwrighting course and then penning him a now critically-acclaimed part.
Jazz Lintott, 37, plays 1970s boxer Frankie Lucas in the play Going for Gold, which was written by his mother Lisa Lintott, who felt her son deserved more fulfilling roles.
After Lisa finished her playwriting course at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, she put pen to paper and wrote Going for Gold, with the mother-and-son then crowdfunding £20,000 to get the play from script to stage.
Last month, Lintott was named best actor for the portrayal at the British Black Theatre Awards, while his mum’s work scooped best play – and Going for Gold is now set for a London and national tour in 2024.
Appearing on Woman’s Hour this week, the pair spoke about how the younger Lintott had found himself being typecast.
He told the Radio 4 show’s host Emma Barnett: ‘For a long period of time, it was just the same sort of roles coming through, terrorist roles or drug dealer roles.
‘I suppose my mum just decided to take matters into her own hands.’
Boxer Lucas, who died earlier this year at the age of 69, had been a regular customer at the North London shop owned by Lisa’s parents; he would order ox tongue, milk rolls and corned beef from the shop’s deli counter.
The play retells how Lucas was ignored by England for selection for the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – despite being the country’s National Amateur Boxing Championship at the time – and went on to win gold at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, representing the tiny Caribbean island of St Vincent instead.
While the budding playwright was choosing a theme for her first work, she decided to use the boxer, whose career she followed until he retired, as her muse.
She told the Camden New Journal earlier this year that she decided to do a ‘a piece of homework’ about Frankie’s visits to the greengrocer.
She said: ‘I don’t know why I thought of it, but Frankie coming in and asking for half a pound of ox tongue seemed to be a great opening line.
‘I thought about our shop – the food tins, a sack of spuds and a bit of fruit. You’d take the liver sausage, and put it on the slicer, cut the slices and then weigh it up on the scales. I loved writing that story – I remembered the shy little girl hiding behind the counter. I wondered what happened to Frankie, and I started researching his life.’
Lintott says she was moved to write for her son because ‘there’s something in me that understands the pain of rejection or the sense of not belonging.’
She continued: ‘When you watch your children go through that, you just feel that it’s not right.
‘You feel kind of powerless – and at a certain point you just want to take that in your own hands and do what you can to kind of cushion it.’