Actor who plays Blossom Jackson in a BBC soap opera who is Jamaican-British is regarded as a “pioneer” and “trailblazer.”
Blossom Jackson, the matriarch of the Jackson clan, was played by Mona Hammond in the BBC serial opera EastEnders. She died at the age of 91.
Hammond, a renowned Jamaican-British stage performer of Chinese origin, has received praise for her performances on stage, movie, television, and radio as well as for her support of Black British actors. She has been called a “pioneer” and “trailblazer.”
After the news of her passing spread, tributes were given. Marcus Ryder, the Rada’s chair, tweeted: “It is with regret that I wake up to the news that Mona Hammond has passed away.”
Charlene White, the host of The Loose Women, wrote on Twitter: “Mona Hammond, a trailblazer in every aspect. I’m grateful.
“RIP Mona Hammond,” wrote radio host and writer Lorraine King. A very brilliant Jamaican actress who worked in theatre and television but who will always be known to many of us as Auntie SuSu from Desmond’s.
“She is greatly missed. May she have a sound sleep.
For her contributions to drama, Hammond received an OBE in the 2005 Queen’s birthday honours list. She received the Women of the World lifetime achievement award in 2018 in recognition of her work in theatre and support of Black British actors.
In response to the dearth of artistic chances for black actors, she co-founded the Talawa theatre company, one of the most well-known black theatre organisations in the UK, and received the latter award for her work there. The organisation has created more than 80 productions, ranging from Oscar Wilde to African classics.
Hammond, whose real name was Mavis Chin and who was born in Jamaica, immigrated to the UK in 1959 on a scholarship from that country and worked as an architect for Norman & Dawbarn.
She received a Rada scholarship and spent two years taking evening sessions at the City Literary Institute in London.
After graduating in 1964, Hammond started her theatre and television career. In Peter Coe’s African adaptation of the play, she played Lady Macbeth at the Roundhouse in London in 1970.
Over the years, she appeared in numerous plays by emerging black playwrights and spent two years at the National Theatre. Additionally, she made appearances in a number of movies, such as Coriolanus, 10,000 BC, Kinky Boots, Manderlay, and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
With parts in programmes including The Sweeney, Juliet Bravo, Holby City, Coronation Street, and Casualty, Hammond made his television debut.
As Auntie Susu in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmond’s from 1990 to 1994, she played one of her most well-known roles. From 1995 to 1996, she reprised the part in the less successful spin-off Porkpie.
She played Blossom Jackson in EastEnders from 1994 to 1997. In 2010, she made a fleeting appearance at the burial of her on-screen great-grandson, Billie Jackson. Blossom was really Hammond’s second appearance in the soap series; the first time was in 1986 as Michelle Fowler’s midwife.
Hammond made another radio appearance in The Archers, where she portrayed Mabel Thompson, the deceased wife of Alan Franks.
She left a son and a grandchild behind.