Ekow Quartey – Up Close And Personal

We sat down with Ekow Quartey to speak to him about his journey, his career and everything else in between.

There are many actors who one day wish to be part of a major film franchise. There are even fewer actors who can boast of having been in the Harry Potter franchise. Ekow Quartey is a British actor who has been making waves in the industry for years.

He got his start in theatre and quickly transitioned to television and film. His work has been praised by critics and audiences alike, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Ekow Quartey currently stars as Pedro in Becoming Elizabeth on Starz, is in both seasons of Aisling Bea’s This way Is Up and is the brand new Apple TV+ series Trying, not to mention being the face of a major commercial campaign for Uber Eats.

We sat down with Ekow Quartey to speak to him about his journey, his career and everything else in between.

Ekow Quartey - Up Close An Personal

Up Close And Personal With Ekow Quartey

Firstly, what made you decide to get into acting?

I have a couple of people to thank, Mr Cranitch and Mr Peter Jolly were really my guides. The former was my primary school teacher and the second was my secondary school drama teacher. I didn’t know much about acting I just knew I loved to play, sing and make people laugh. Mr Cranitch recognised this and cast me as Bottom in our year 6 version of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Peter Jolly was the reason I ever got a chance to audition for Harry Potter. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, honestly, I didn’t even know what the industry was but the moment I knew this was something I loved there wasn’t a single decision or step I made that Peter hadn’t advised me to do. NYT; he introduced me to it, helped me choose my audition pieces, and sat and worked on them with me. University; he advised me on uni courses that would be good for me and told me “get away from London, find out who you are”. Then to me, the most important thing he ever did for me was in my last year of school all I knew is I wanted to act and education was holding me back from realising this dream! I remember how much I wanted to drop out of school and every day he’d check on me and encourage me to finish what I started.

You are probably most well known for your role as Bem in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. How did this role come about and could you tell us a little bit more about your experience?  

Harry Potter is still one of the greatest experiences of my teenage years! When the third film was being cast they came to my school looking for students. Peter Jolly took them to the lunch hall and they just picked boys that fitted the casting brief, however, I wasn’t in the lunch hall. So Peter went on the hunt and found me playing football. He told them they had to meet me. Then started one of the longest audition processes I’ve ever been in, from group auditions in a church in Godge Street to meeting Christopher Columbus and Alfonso Curon, then the rest is history.

Everyone is talking about your latest role in the Becoming Elizabeth series on Starz. What has the experience filming this been?

I loved filming Becoming Elizabeth. From learning to horse ride, incredible cast and crew and getting to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I feel so proud to be part of such a wonderful production!

Other than film and television, and let’s not forget the new commercial campaign for Uber Eats, you have also been a regular on stage in quite a few big productions. What has been your most memorable role or experience on stage?  

I hope I had you ordering to your heart’s content! My most memorable theatre role to date would most probably be playing Macbeth on the Globe stage. I think I experienced my biggest highs and lows during that production. When I started going to the theatre with my school, I didn’t always see myself represented in the shows I went to see. There’s nothing more special than feeling like you are seen and you can be something because you’re looking at somebody who either looks like you or you recognise to be the same ethnicity and colour. That validation allows young people to dream and I hope that there were young people in that audience who watched me, a British-Ghanian man portraying Macbeth and believed if they wanted to do they could one day do the same. The low was it all ended too soon with the arrival of covid and the subsequent emotional and mental struggles that I’m sure many of us recognise.

Ekow Quartey - Up Close An Personal

What is your process of developing a character or does it just come naturally?

For me, the development of a character always starts from the text. The text will hopefully tell you everything you need to know about your character, give you the skeleton and then you can flesh it out from that foundation. I ask the questions; what do I do, what do I say, what do others say about me and what are the facts of my character?

When you approach a role, does whether it is on film or on stage change the way you would portray a character?

I don’t think the different medium would change the way I portray the character but they do demand different things from you in performance. I’m still figuring it out personally but one difference I’ve found is where you’re landing your performance. On stage, you’re wanting to allow sometimes up to 1700 people into the story and that takes a certain vocal and physical size of performance. Whereas on screen the story is shown through the lens which is much closer than the back of an auditorium.

Ekow Quartey - Up Close An Personal

What is your favourite kind of character to play?

I want to play them all honestly. I want to be pushed and tested. I never want to pigeonhole myself. I’ve been very lucky so far with the breadth of stuff I’ve had the opportunity to do. Saying that though I’d love to be a Bond villain or something similar.

Do you prefer the stage or screen?

I love them both. I love sharing stories with a live audience and I love the level of detail on screen. Give me it all.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career up to now?

That I have a career is my highlight. Something that was a hobby for such a long time and brings me a lot of joy is now my profession, they even sometimes pay me.

What advice would you give aspiring actors?

Being an actor is more than just acting. Be patient and try and fall in love with your craft and the process. There will be immense highs and lows, your job is to keep yourself somewhere in the middle. Don’t let success go to your head or failure get to your heart.

Following on that, what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?

Be you, everyone else is taken. You are enough!

You have a great passion for healthy living and to help others do the same. What brought this on?

My own physical and mental health has had its difficult patches and struggles and so I try and share my own journey and help as many people as possible. My sister and I became consultants for the 1:1 diet after we did it in 2019 and have been trying to help people through it ever since.

A lot of people find putting their health a priority difficult in our fast passed lifestyle. What advice do you have and how are you able to juggle a busy career and look after your well-being?

Honestly, I’m trying to figure it out every day but my advice is to do the things you love and nothing should come before your happiness.

Any exciting new projects on the horizon?

There are one or two things on the horizon and hopefully season 2 of Becoming Elizabeth, so get watching!

Ekow Quartey - Up Close An Personal

*Images:

Photographer – Eddie Blagbrough 
Styling – Ben Browne 
Grooming – Nadia Altinbas