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Candice Carty-Williams says Succession’s Jesse Armstrong was incredible mentor

The British writer said it was ‘dangerous’ filming the majority of scenes around Brixton in south London.

Candice Carty-Williams says Succession’s Jesse Armstrong was ‘incredible mentor’
Women of The Year Lunch and Awards 2019 – London Candice Carty-Williams says Succession’s Jesse Armstrong was ‘incredible mentor’ (Ian West/PA)

British author Candice Carty-Williams said Succession creator Jesse Armstrong helped her make a TV series based on her 2019 debut novel Queenie.

The eight-episode series, which will air on Channel 4 and Disney+, stars Dionne Brown as Queenie, Samuel Adewunmi as Frank, and Bellah – real name Isobel Akpobire – as Kyazike, marking the rising R&B singer’s acting debut.

Appearing at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour in Los Angeles, creator and executive producer Carty-Williams, 34, said making Queenie for the screen was a “very long process”, taking eight years in total.

“We were on set for 48 days and we were in post-production for 200 days and so I did not realise I would have to give so much of my life to television, but it’s all worth it,” she said.

“Weirdly, the person who helped me navigate this was Jesse Armstrong, because he is my agent’s friend and he gave me some advice.

“He sat me down and said ‘make sure you write what you want to write’ and I was like ‘you’re Jesse Armstrong so you can say that’.

“But I took on of that what I could, but he’s been an incredible mentor.”

British writer-turned-producer Armstrong, who created hit TV series Succession, starring Brian Cox, recently won an Emmy award for best writing for a drama series, while his show took home a total of six gongs.

Jesse Armstrong accepts the award for outstanding writing for a drama series for Succession during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards (AP/Chris Pizzello)
75th Primetime Emmy Awards – Show Jesse Armstrong accepts the award for outstanding writing for a drama series for Succession during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards (AP/Chris Pizzello) (Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

“There aren’t (many) black female authors from the UK who have done this so I had to look to a white man for help,” Carty-Williams joked.

The writer said they filmed the majority of the series around Brixton in south London.

“It was really fun, but also really dangerous,” she said.

“Someone threw a bottle at us, that’s Brixton, you have to handle it. It was quite intense at times. I guess occupational hazard. I felt it was important to stay true to places in the book.”

Carty-Williams also said the book nods to hit book and film series Bridget Jones’s Diary by British author Helen Fielding.

Helen Fielding attending the world premiere of Bridget Jones’s Baby
Bridget Jones’s Baby – World Premiere – London Helen Fielding attending the world premiere of Bridget Jones’s Baby (Ian West/PA)

“I read the book when I was too young probably, I stole it from my aunt’s book shelf and I read it in the summer holidays and I just thought it was really funny and I loved women being funny and I grew up around a lot of funny women and so it really chimed with me.

“And I got older and watched the films, I thought they were amazing, really fun. I think deep down I always wanted to make something like that.”

Queenie will be on Channel 4 in the UK and Disney+ later this year.

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