‘We were always in awe of her’: actors celebrate the life and legacy of Mona Hammond

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David Harewood: ‘Her contented was a invited balm’

It is often said that those of america who win bash truthful due to the fact that we basal connected the shoulders of those who person gone before. But what is not truthful often said is that galore of those pioneers were giants. Mona Hammond was specified a giant. I’ve mislaid number of the magnitude of times this diminutive powerhouse played my mother. Each clip we came unneurotic was a joy, her consciousness of humour often astonishing maine and her contented a invited balm. Always truthful encouraging, she seemed genuinely delighted to person maine around. Mona had a calming beingness and the sweetest dependable you could imagine, 1 that carried with it a fierceness that could crook immoderate infinitesimal from joyousness to reprimand portion making maine laughter – a uncommon prime that she unsocial possessed.

Mona graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art successful 1964, the twelvemonth earlier I was born. I cannot ideate the hurdles she indispensable person faced. Perhaps her experiences helped her to spot the value of creating a abstraction wherever achromatic excellence had a spot to travel together, to archer its stories and springiness those connected the margins a voice, truthful on with her lifelong person Yvonne Brewster she was 1 of the founding members of Talawa, the institution that gave maine my archetypal nonrecreational job, and that supports and encourages today’s procreation of achromatic artists to strut their worldly connected the stage.

Indeed, it’s astir arsenic if she were each our mothers and we each her children, lasting connected her shoulders, winning awards and being invited into spaces that she could person lone imagined erstwhile she began her journey. So fto america wage tribute to a giant, 1 who encouraged and guided a full procreation to scope the heights we find ourselves astatine today. Were it not for her courageousness and spot galore of america whitethorn not person made it up to this lofty perch. So we salute you Mona and bid you a very, precise fond farewell.

Mona Hammond and Jason Rose successful  O Babylon! The Musical astatine  Riverside Studios, London, directed by Yvonne Brewster, successful  1988.
Mona Hammond and Jason Rose successful O Babylon! The Musical astatine Riverside Studios, London, directed by Yvonne Brewster, successful 1988. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Sharon D Clarke: ‘She could crushed you with her stillness, past unleash a hurricane’

In January 1988, I was truthful excited to spell into rehearsals for Talawa’s accumulation of Derek Walcott’s O Babylon! The Musical astatine Riverside Studios, London, with Mona Hammond – an histrion who I greatly admired, having seen her successful The Black Jacobins, Blood Wedding and Playboy of the West Indies.

She was ever generous with her clip and her wisdom. To beryllium successful a country with her, witnessing her trade each day, was a masterclass and axenic joy. She had a gentleness that besides said don’t messiness with me. On signifier she could crushed you with her stillness, past unleash a hurricane with her ferocity.

I loved seeing my mum and Miss Mona chatting distant aft assorted shows.

The past clip I saw Miss Mona was connected a bus. We were some making our mode to the conduit – she from visiting friends, maine going to spot friends. We ended up getting beverage and barroom astatine a section cafe and chatted a mates of hours away.

She trailblazed the mode for a procreation of achromatic actors, not lone with her canon of enactment but besides the mode she carried herself successful life. She led by example, she championed us. We basal tall, arrogant and flourish connected her queenly shoulders. And this descendant of Jamaican parents is arrogant that we travel from the aforesaid parish of Clarendon.

Mona Hammond successful  2010.
A changeless inspiration … Mona Hammond successful 2010. Photograph: Wenn Rights/Alamy

Josette Bushell-Mingo: ‘Funny, astute and live successful the language’

It was a large sadness erstwhile I learned of Mona’s passing. She leaves down an bonzer bequest – arsenic a large histrion and arsenic an impacter of excellence upon the Black and planetary bulk community. As a relation model, she consistently acceptable standards and demands for each of america to beryllium our best.

I had the privilege of moving with her at Birmingham Rep. She was the Nurse to my Juliet other Damien Lewis arsenic Romeo. As an histrion she was funny, smart, and live successful the language. As a portion of the ensemble, we were ever successful awe of her.

Mona is 1 of the reasons I americium here. She proved beyond a uncertainty the excellence of the histrion and, with dedication, transformed the manufacture with much than 50 years of work, covering TV, theatre, movie and truthful overmuch more. Her interaction was felt adjacent much arsenic a changeless inspiration for america all.

My thoughts are with Mona’s household and friends who looked retired for her successful these past fewer years; we kept successful changeless interaction astir her welfare, particularly successful the last days and hours. Through this, we recovered comfortableness successful our shared memories of Mona. Things volition ne'er rather beryllium the same, but our occupation is to proceed her bequest with courage, fearlessness and joy.

She was underappreciated successful her clip but volition not beryllium forgotten.

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