Micheal Ward Merges Into the Fast Lane
Like so many young men growing up in East London, Micheal Ward had dreams of soccer stardom. “My heart,” he says, “was set on it.” But unlike so many young men growing up in East London, Ward actually possessed the talent to go pro one day. But then, something in him changed. “I made the decision to get into modeling, and from there, I decided to go to college and try the performing arts.” Smart move. Ward booked a role in the music video for the British singer-songwriter Tom Walker’s track “Blessings,” and seeing himself on-screen for the first time instilled in him the belief that he belonged. That belief gained strength when Ward was cast in the third season of Top Boy, a British crime drama that Ward grew up watching, and which was revived by Netflix in 2019. As Jamie, a hot-wired upstart gang leader, Ward tapped into the nuances beneath the character’s merciless exterior. “Jamie is written so beautifully, and he’s given me a chance to connect to so many different emotions that you normally don’t get to go through,” he says. “I think it’s one of the best roles on television.”
That performance, along with his work in the gangland saga Blue Story, earned Ward the EE Rising Star Award at this year’s BAFTAs, and the attention of the Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, who tapped Ward for his latest project, Small Axe. The five-part anthology, which premieres on Amazon in late November, takes a panoramic view of London’s West Indian community from the 1960s to the 1980s. Ward’s installment, Lovers Rock, about the onslaught of romance at a blues party in the early ’80s, takes its name from a subgenre of reggae popularized in London around that time. For the Jamaican-born Ward, it’s a story that hit close to home. “Lovers Rock made me consider the many people who came before me and what they had to do for me to be here,” he says. “Now, it makes me go even harder because I really understand that I’m here for a reason.”
Grooming: Nat Bury Mo Better Cuts
Makeup: Kristina Ralph Andrews at Future Rep.
Fashion Assistant: Adebimpe Adenusi