Lashana Lynch has been taking pioneering roles since primary school. “I was the first female Black Pinocchio in West London,” she says, laughing, “which I’m actually really proud of, because I think that set me up for the fight for diversity we’re still fighting right now.” After studying acting at London’s prestigious ArtsEd school and doing stints on British stage and screen, she made her stateside debut in 2017, playing Rosaline Capulet in the Shonda Rhimes Shakespeare spin-off Still Star-Crossed.
We Can Be Heroes
In 2019, the 33-year-old actress broke through in Captain Marvel, playing Maria Rambeau, an Air Force fighter pilot, single mom, and best friend of Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers. Lynch earned notice for an emotional monologue her character delivers to Danvers—a quieter moment amid the intergalactic conflict. “It was really refreshing to play a human superhero,” Lynch says. “That character really spoke to who I am and what I represent.”
In No Time to Die (October 8), Lynch breaks another barrier, becoming the first Black female 00 agent in the James Bond franchise’s six-decade history. Her character, Nomi, grudgingly works alongside Bond to hunt for a missing scientist. “She has a very play-by-the-rules approach,” Lynch says. “She learns that it’s not about getting it right according to your training but getting it right in the moment.” The actress worked with director Cary Fukunaga and Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge—only the second woman to get a writing credit on a Bond film—to make Nomi more than just another slick, one-dimensional spy. “I was really grateful that Phoebe was a part of it,” she says. “Her work shows women in their best and most awkward light, which is something I’m really drawn to.”
Next up, Lynch will star as Miss Honey in a film adaptation of the 2013 Broadway hit Matilda the Musical, based on the Roald Dahl book. While tackling a musical is new for Lynch, the source material was familiar. “It was actually a book I was engrossed in as a child,” she says. “I remember being Matilda in my mind and moving objects in my house with my eyes. It was the perfect escapism for a budding performer.” While Lynch is on top of the world now, her path, like Matilda’s, wasn’t always smooth. “In between all these powerful roles, there were the ones that didn’t suit me—the people who said I was too tall, too dark, too big. But then you get those golden moments when what you asked for comes, and you think, Good, now I can get to work.”