Welcome to the Jungle!
Updated: Mar 4, 2019
Cherno Jagne is a British/Gambian actor who discovered his passion whilst working in a City Law Law Firm. Taking the leap to train with us since graduation he has starred in feature film Haaram and The Jungle. We spoke to him about preparation, Black Panther and understudying 2 lead roles in the West End!
Why did you choose to become an actor?
I guess it stems from my childhood. I always loved making people laugh which would’ve been my earliest experience of performing but it was never something I really thought you could do for a living and just seemed more like something you just did for fun or a hobby, but not pursue as a career. I enjoyed movies so much as a child and was never really something I could shake off even when I got older and started pursuing a different career. As I’ve gotten older my passion for wanting to be an actor has been more rooted in wanting to tell stories about topics that I’m passion about.
What has been your most challenging acting role and why?
This is all still quite new to me and it wasn’t all that long ago that I completed my foundation and advanced training courses here at the Actors Temple, so I still feel very inexperienced. I just completed a West End Production and without a doubt it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I appeared as part of the ensemble as the character Tarek and Understudy to 2 of the principal characters in the play. It was 160 shows over 5 months and whilst I loved every minute of it, it was tough. It was such a high energy show which was emotionally and physically demanding. On top of that, as an understudy, you’ve got to remember your tracks and lines as well as learning all the lines and tracks of 2 of the main characters of the play. I honestly left this project having so much respect for what understudies do. If you’ve seen the show you’d know what I mean when I say it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in general. Actors on this show who have been doing this for 20+ years said that it was easily the most challenging project they’d ever done so I guess for me, this was a great way to be introduced to the challenges that lie ahead in this industry.
What inspired you most about your role in The Jungle?
Apart from the fact that I’d already seen The Jungle when it was on at The Young Vic, the subject matter of the play was more than an inspiration for me to be a part of it. The play focussed on the refugee and migrant crisis in Calais and the camps, known as The Jungle, where most of these people had built new homes after fleeing their own countries. For me, the story that this play was telling was 100% the kind of project that inspired me to want to become an actor in the first place. Apart from being such an important Human Rights topic (the kind of which I have a huge passion for) I had been to Calais to volunteer at The Jungle at the height of its crisis. I’d also written a report of what I’d witnessed when I was there. To then be cast in a play, a little over 2 years later, about that very topic was a dream come true for me, not just to work with such an amazing director, a talented cast or to perform on the West End but because the story meant so much to me before there was even any thought of it being adapted into a play.
Do you have a pre-show ritual for nerves?
So far, no. I will always say a prayer before I go on stage but that’s not for nerves, I would just naturally do that before anything important. I tend to vary with nerves. On the opening night of The Jungle I was nervous but after that, I generally looked forward to going on stage and was usually very excited. It’s weird because on the third night that I went on as one of the principal characters I had a moment mid-way through the show where, just before I give an important speech I got nervous for no reason. It was strange as I’d done the same speech for 2 nights before and then suddenly, I’m standing paranoid at the thought that I was going to throw up on stage mid-way through my speech.
What brought you to The Actors’ Temple?
A friend recommended it to me so many years back and whilst I tried so many different acting courses before then I’d never tried Meisner, so I thought I’d give it a go as I was getting to that point in my life where I was becoming disillusioned with the whole profession. This was mostly because I hadn’t found the right course for me until then. I signed up for a one-week introductory course in 2014, with the view of only doing the course and then doing drop in lessons once a week. After I completed the one-week course I was completely sold to the point that I ended up doing the one-year core and then one-year advanced course.
If you could play any character- who would it be and why?
In terms of a real-life person I’d love to play Thomas Sankara. He’s one of my hero’s and although not that many people know about him, his story is starting to attract more attention. There was actually a play about his life on at The Cockpit Theatre last year. I just think he was an incredible figure who, in the limited time that he was able to do so, really had all the right visions for how a country should be led and how people should be treated equally. His story is amazing and would make a great film. In terms of character’s I’ve already seen, I can’t help but give a few – I would’ve loved to had played Chilford in The Convert and Eric Killmonger in Black Panther – one stage and one film. I thought they’re great roles and when I watched both I couldn’t help but think ‘I’d love to play that role’.
What motivates you?
This is such a cliché answer but circumstances I guess. For me personally I think it’s my own personal circumstances and experiences in terms of what I’ve seen and grown up with that has given me enough motivation to want to do better and strive to do well.
What was the biggest thing you took from your training?
To be brave and not be afraid to try something because of fear of failure or what others may think of you. I used to shy away from telling people for many years that I was an actor because I was afraid of people seeing me make a fool of myself if I didn’t get something right or if it wasn’t good. Now I’m not too fused and feel braver to do so.
If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?
I’m sure there’s so much I could tell myself but maybe not to buy into the BS that we’re fed whether that be through the media, culture, politics or whatever. Most kids hang on every word they’re told by adults and you assume they can never be wrong but now as an adult, I can see how things aren’t always as they seem, even though as a kid I totally bought into it all. For one example, kind of like as I said at the start, it was my culture that taught me that the respectable career to have and way to live was to be a doctor, lawyer or banker and acting was only a hobby. Now that I’m older I can obviously see that that’s not true.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about training with The Actors’ Temple?
Preparation 100%. I know it’s true to say that everyone’s path is different and someone who doesn’t work half as hard as another person may end of up being more successful but in terms of your training, the one thing I always noticed with myself and others was that the one’s that prepared the most, were the ones that felt the most fulfilled after performing a scene and they were the ones that enjoyed the course the most. The determining factor for me, as to whether I felt I’d given all I could during an exercise or if I was enjoying the course was always based on how well prepared I was. It might be different for others but based on my experience that’s the advice I’d give.