Friday, June 18

On My Radar: Omari Douglas Culture Highlights | Culture


TOCtor Omari Douglas was born in Wolverhampton in 1994 and trained at the Arts Educational Schools in London, graduating in 2015. Earlier this year he made his television debut playing Roscoe Babatunde in It’s a sin, Russell T Davies’s Channel 4 drama about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. His stage credits include Rush (King’s Head Theater), Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air) and Emma Rice’s Old Vic adaptation of Wise children. On June 16, Douglas will speak with Davies to a Guardian Live event; next month appears in Constellations in the Donmar.

1. Music

Eurovision 2021 Playlist

Hurricane from Serbia performing at Eurovision 2021.
Hurricane from Serbia performing at Eurovision 2021. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

My cousin used to make me watch Eurovision with her when I was little, so I keep the tradition alive. I watched the final with some friends and it was the best ceremony in years. There were a couple of standout songs that I literally can’t stop playing: one is Sugar, the Moldovan entry, which is crazy, by Natalia Gordienko, and Loco Loco, by this group of Serbian girls called Hurricane. The aesthetic was absolutely brilliant. Hurricane looked like they might have been in Real housewives, and they did this amazing dance routine. So I’ve been exploiting it.

2. Documentary

1971: The Year Music Changed Everything (Apple TV +)

David Bowie in Los Angeles, 1971.
David Bowie in Los Angeles, 1971. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

I came across this music documentary when Lauren Laverne was interviewing [director] Asif Kapadia in it [BBC Radio 6 Music] Show. She brought up the title and I thought, “Oh, I read that book, it’s by David Hepworth.” It’s basically about highlighting what the musicians were doing as artists to reflect that moment politically, and it’s completely fascinating how those two things came together. There is a brilliant section on Oz magazine and the rise of censorship, and Marc Bolan, and how David Bowie went from underground figure to global superstar.

3. Podcast

Out of the blood

Carrie: The Musical, off Broadway, 2012.
Carrie: The Musical, off Broadway, 2012.

A few weeks ago I listened to this podcast about the musical version of Carrie, which was commissioned for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988. There was a hoo-ha about it; many Puritans said, “We can’t believe the RSC is putting together a musical version of a Stephen King novel.” He moved to Broadway and failed. The podcast offers you many funny anecdotes on how to put the show together; They talk to the cast and break down the production. I’m a fan of musical theater, so it was fascinating to hear.

Brandon Taylor in real life
Photography: no credit

4. Reserve

The real life of Brandon Taylor

I read this during the confinement and I loved it. It’s about this graduate science student in the US and his life as a millennial queer black man navigating a very white space. Brandon Taylor writes fascinating and complex characters – he has a really good way of capturing everything that goes on internally for people, and his attention to detail is astonishing. He has a new book coming out later this month called Disgusting animals, which I look forward to, and publishes a really interesting weekly newsletter. His writing is so crisp and I love all of his references.

5. Store

Nordic Poetry, London E2

Nordic poetry in East London.
Nordic poetry in East London. Photography: Peter Bagi

Since we were able to go shopping, I went back to this vintage clothing store. It is very well curated by a great Swedish woman named Ameli Lindgren. I always ask her where she gets her things from and she simply: “I’m not going to tell you that.” There are many pieces from the 70s: beautiful knitwear from Missoni, jewelry from Gucci. A lot of the clothes in my closet are second-hand and I’m not very interested in labels, but I appreciate the quality of the pieces. I managed to get a suit for my cousin’s wedding, so it’s pretty good.

6. TV

We Are Lady Parts (Channel 4)

I’m a couple of episodes on this. It’s a comedy about an all-female Muslim punk-rock band and Anjana Vasan, who is an amazing actress, plays a misfit who ends up auditioning for the band. It’s captivating – they’ve been really brave in the way they told the story, sometimes it catches you off guard. They will just release a musical number there, or there will be a great fantasy sequence. All actresses have great talent because they play all the music and sing themselves. It’s fun and subversive and I’m excited to see where it goes.


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