Freema Agyeman is a British actress who is known for her role as Martha Jones on the acclaimed British television series Doctor Who. She has also acted in other notable series such as Law & Order: UK, Sense 8, and New Amsterdam.
Agyeman was born in London, UK on March 20, 1979. Her mother is Iranian and Kurdish and her father is Ghanian. Agyeman is the middle child of three.
Her mother was raised under the Muslim faith and her father was raised as a Methodist. Despite this, Agyeman was raised as a practicing Roman Catholic. She attended Our Lady’s Convent RC High School, which was a Catholic school.
In 1996, she went on to attend the Anna Scher Theatre School. In 2000, she graduated from Middlesex University where she studied Performing Arts and Drama.
Freema Agyeman’s first acting role was on the ITV soap opera series Crossroads. The show originally ran from 1964 to 1988, but was then briefly revived from 2001 to 2003.
On the show, Agyeman played Jill Wise, and later received two nominations from the British Soap Awards in 2003 for Best Newcomer and Sexiest Female.
After auditioning for various roles on the acclaimed and long-running show Doctor Who, Agyeman finally landed the role of Martha Jones in 2006. Agyeman was set to replace Billie Piper as the doctor’s new companion and the show’s first black companion.
The character Martha Jones is kind, brave, and has a good sense of humor. Martha was willing to accept non-humans as friends and made attempts to communicate better with other species.
Over time, she developed a crush on the doctor but her feelings were not reciprocated. Despite this and the many trials she was put through, she retained her kind heart and sense of adventure.
Agyeman starred as Martha on one season of the show, but then made only occasional appearances later on in the series.
Fans speculated on the Reddit subforum r/doctorwho as to why Agyeman only acted in one season. One fan said that her character was always meant to be a one season companion but that bringing her back for additional appearances would be good for ratings. Another fan said they believed that Agyeman left on her own accord after being cast in Law & Order UK.
When reflecting on her time starring in Doctor Who, Agyeman said she did not anticipate the racist abuse she got from being the first black companion.
In a video posted on Independent UK, Agyeman stated:
“I didn’t even mind that there was so much focus on being the first black companion, because I was. So, it never bothered me at all. It was something I was, and still am, so proud of. What I didn’t anticipate and maybe I was naive, was the racism from certain sectors of the fanbase. There were criticism levels toward my contribution for other reasons which I could handle. I could rationalize those away. I’m an artist. No one is going to like your work all of the time. People are entitled to their opinions, it’s all subjective. But the racism? Yeah, couldn’t rationalize that.”
Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest
In 2007, Agyeman lent her voice to the character Martha Jones in the animated series Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest. The show revolves around an alien who plans on compressing the human population into diamonds, and the tenth doctor and Martha Jones must stop him.
What did she do after Doctor Who?
In 2008, Agyeman landed the role of Tattycoram in the Emmy Award-winning BBC adaptation of the book Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. Agyeman was happy to star in the show, as she always wanted to act in a period drama.
Law & Order: UK
From 2009 to 2012, Agyeman starred as Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips in Law & Order: UK, an adaptation of the Law & Order series from the United States. In preparation for her role, she sat in on live trials and toured the Old Bailey.
For her part she was nominated for Best UK Actress at the 2009 Birmingham Black International Film Festival’s Music, Video, and Screen Awards.
The Carrie Diaries
The Carrie Diaries was a prequel to HBO show Sex and the City. Agyeman was cast to play Larissa, a party girl who works at Interview Magazine.
In 2015, Agyeman played Amanita Caplan in the Netflix series Sense 8, created and directed by the Wachowskis. Amanita was the girlfriend of Nomi, played by Jaimie Clayton, who was a trans woman, blogger, and hacker. Despite the generally positive reviews, the series was canceled by Netflix after two seasons.
The Wachowskis again cast Agyeman in a small role in the much-anticipated Matrix Resurrections. Her character, Astra, worked on a game development team headed by Thomas Anderson, otherwise known as Neo, who was played by Keanu Reeves.
What is Freema Agyeman doing now?
Freema is still very active as an actress and has recently wrapped up her stint on the show New Amsterdam and has a new television project lined up with Lily Allen.
From 2018-2022, Agyeman was cast as Dr. Helen Sharp in the NBC medical drama New Amsterdam. Dr. Sharp was the head of the oncology and hematology department in the hospital. Agyeman played Dr. Sharp in seasons one through four,but exited the show before the fifth and final season.
To fans of the show, Agyeman’s departure seemed sudden, but the show’s creator said Agyeman had expressed a desire to leave the series after the third season. On TV Line, Agyeman said:
“I feel very fortunate to have connected with so many of you over these past few years, while rolling around in the skin of Ms. Helen Sharpe, and witness every ebb and flow of your emotional investment. What a ride! Thank you for being on it with me. She has meant so much to me, but the time has come for me to hang up her white coat.”
Agyeman has been cast alongside Lily Allen to star in Dreamland, a Sky Original comedy. Dreamland is based on a BAFTA winning short that depicts love and lies in a family of four sisters.
The series is set to air on Sky Comedy and stream on NOW in 2023.
Relationships and Kids
Agyeman has reportedly been dating fellow British actor Luke Roberts. Roberts is best known for his role as Joseph Byrne on the BBC drama Holby City.