Sheila Atim: ‘Six wings, chips and a drink. That’s my guilty pleasure’

The actor, 30, talks about learning tenacity, gaining an MBE, meeting Tom Hanks and her pole-dancing addiction

It’s fun to write MBE after your name occasionally. I got the honour in 2019 for services to drama. I have complex feelings about it and it hasn’t made any tangible difference to my career, but it solidified my sense of responsibility. I’m a big advocate for youth arts access and young people often ask me about the MBE, so it’s cool to show them what’s possible. It’s almost an ambassadorial role. Hopefully I’ll get invited to those ambassador’s parties where they serve pyramids of Ferrero Rocher.

My mum taught me tenacity. I was raised by a Ugandan single mother in Essex. Immigrants want to succeed and find a stable life, of course, but it’s also quite easy in a foreign country to accept your position and settle for a perceived glass ceiling. Mum never did that. She was always striving and studying. She’s got degrees coming out of her ears. She showed me I didn’t have to place restrictions on myself.

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