Lauryn Ajufo

BIFA Breakthrough Performance Nominee Lauryn Ajufo can’t be pigeon-holed.

Originally discovered in 2018 at a monologue slam competition, the 22-year-old English actress has built herself an eclectic resume – from the 2019 short film Boiling Point (which earned her the BIFA nomination) to the ITV teen drama Tell Me Everything, and the upcoming, highly anticipated Netflix series The Fuck It Bucket. And now – in select cinemas now and on Netflix on March 10th – Ajufo will star as Anya in the crime thriller film Luther: The Fallen Sun alongside Idris Elba and Cynthia Erivo. Serving as a film continuation of the 2010-2019 British television series, this role marks Ajufo’s most challenging role to date and an experience she will never forget. 

Following the London red carpet premiere of Luther: The Fallen Sun, 1883 Magazine chats with Ajufo about her experience bonding with Cynthia Erivo ahead of filming, binge-watching Gossip Girl, bucket lists, her favourite Disney Channel Original Movies – and her dream of one day portraying a Disney Princess. 


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When did you first realize you wanted to be an actress?

Funnily enough, I don’t think I wanted to be an actress. There was always an interest there. I’d mess around and stuff like that and I did it for drama but I think with the push from my parents and just as I grew older and more mature, I noticed that, oh, I’m pretty good at this, maybe I should see it as a career path! So it probably wasn’t until I was in BRIT and studied musical theatre. I was like, oh, I just want to do theatre. That’ll be pretty cool.


Wow, so it was a push from the parents! Are they in the arts at all?

Well, my mum works on tv but she doesn’t work with scripted, it’s all unscripted. So I think it was just a natural thing that they saw a talent and they were like, oh, you should just pursue this. And I was like, hmm, I don’t know, and they’re like, no, you should! So I thought, okay!


She works in unscripted, so she probably didn’t want you on a reality TV show then?

Haha no, not anytime soon.


So you probably just grew up knowing about the entertainment industry then because of your mum’s line of work?

Yeah, I grew up watching Teen Wolf, Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl. I think that made me think, oh, I want to be Blair so badly, or I want to be Serena!


Gossip Girl is the best. There will be no show that tops that!

No, never! Oh, God. I’ve rewatched it three or four times, shamelessly.


Me too. I rewatched it over the pandemic and it still holds up. Other shows, I’ve tried the OC, I’ve tried other older teen dramas like Laguna Beach or One Tree Hill, and they just don’t hold up like Gossip Girl.

No, it’s not the same! I agree. 


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Well, that kind of brings me to my next question. What sort of TV shows and films did you watch growing up? What were some of your favourites other than the ones you just mentioned?

So I grew up watching a lot of rom-com stuff. I’m definitely a sucker for romcoms. So anything with Julia Roberts– My Best Friend’s WeddingNotting Hill or like Love and Basketball. That’s probably my favourite rom-com ever. And then every single Disney film. I feel like you just have to do that.


I love that. Did you watch the Disney Channel original movies too? Or just the traditional Disney films?

Oh, of course! Lemonade MouthThe Lizzie McGuire Movie or the Hannah Montana film. Listen, the Disney channel was on at 4:30 PM straight after school every day.


Yes, me too! Did you know, I think this month, I believe, is the 20th anniversary of the Lizzie McGuire movie?

No way! It has to be 10 years… 


It’s so crazy. And so iconic, right?

Yeah. Disney Channel – I feel sorry for my sisters because there’s going to be a generation that will never have that. That’s So RavenCory In the House or Suite Life on Deck. And they will just never understand the impact it had on us as kids.


That’s So Raven, man, so good. Now, hopefully, the new Disney+ original content team will get on it and we’ll get some of those good heartwarming stories. 

I hope so!


I know you had the premiere for Luther last night – congratulations! How did it feel to see the reactions of people watching the film for the first time?

It was a very fun event! I feel like I was so nervous. It was obviously in the evening in London and it was really cold and everyone’s like, ‘are you cold?’ And I would say no, and they’d say, ‘are you sure because you should be freezing by now?’ But it was so much fun. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and it got the reception that Netflix and the whole team wanted, which was fun. It was nice watching everyone’s reactions, like, yeah, that’s what you should have done in that scene. That was great. We nailed it.


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Were there any special moments about last night or with the cast that you can share with us?

I got to speak to Jamie Payne again, the director. He was really, really supportive on set. Definitely one of my favourite directors I’ve worked with. We just like caught up on the process of when I auditioned and how it’s been since then and what’s new and what’s next. And it was really sweet to hear the reviews and reactions from people that I haven’t seen in a while, especially from the cast and directors and stuff, and other cast members as well.


Did you have a chance to watch the film all the way through before last night?

I did. But yesterday was like the creme de la creme, it’s finished, and this is what’s going to be released. I was like, ‘OH!’ 


Yeah, that’s always a special moment to like seeing the end product after so much time of hard work! When did you know that you were going to be cast as Anya, and what was the process like getting the role?

So I got cast for Luther, I want to say, just before the start of 2022. I don’t remember what year we were in and I was actually filming a TV series for ITVX at the time, Tell Me Everything. So it was a lot of moving around. My initial audition was a self-tape and then I got a call into the room where I met Jamie and Priscilla, the casting directors. And then from then on, it was like a waiting game. Then I got the call and I was like, ‘no, like, pinch me now, like, it’s just impossible, no.’ I got the call and as soon as I wrapped Tell Me Everything, and the next day I started Luther. So it was very much bam, bam, bam!


Wow. That’s incredible! What a whirlwind. When you got the call, did you know who else was in the film already?

I knew of one other person simply because we did Boiling Point together. But other than that, no. Obviously, I knew about Idris and I knew about Cynthia, but everyone else was a mystery, which was nice. It was fun.


That’s cool that you got to do another project with one of your co-stars in Boiling Point. How fun. Those two projects are very different – what were some of the differences working on the two? 

Yeah! Well, with Boiling Point, I came off the back of the short film, so there was kind of an understanding of the way that the script was going and the story itself. And that was all filmed in one take with an improvised script. So it was very different. It was very hustle and bustle, but I respected it that way because it added to the story more. Whereas Luther is darker and gloomy and there’s just so much more to process in comparison to Boiling Point. But they were both very challenging in their own ways and I thoroughly enjoyed both.


How long did it take to film Luther?

I want to say it took like just a few months, I believe. Yeah, it wasn’t a long shoot at all. It was like two, maybe three months!


What was it like filming with legendary actors like Idris Elba and Cynthia Erivo? That must have been a phenomenal experience.

It most definitely was. It was honestly inspirational. It was really nice to be on set with well-respected actors, especially when they’re just genuinely really nice individuals as well. The director, Jamie Payne, set up a meeting for Cynthia and me where we just sat and spoke for two hours and got to know each other. And I think that was like the highlight for me, I was like, we’re just sitting here talking, this is great. And we just got to bond and know each other more and it was amazing. Then to see them again last night was really nice.


Was there any piece of advice that she gave you or anything during your first meeting? Something that’ll stick with you or be like a long-lasting memory for you?

Well, it was more so a thing of like, at the end of the day, you know what’s best for you. If you feel the decision isn’t right or it needs to be changed, you know what’s best. So make it headstrong and just go with your gut feeling all the time. And I was like, mm, yeah, maybe I can doubt myself sometimes…


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I actually watched the film last night and it was so good – very intense! You were incredible in that scene in the bunker. Can you tell me about what it was like filming that scene in particular?

It was as you said, pretty intense. It was definitely challenging for me emotionally to connect with that scene a lot. And then having to draw that emotion every single day was definitely a challenge, but I enjoyed it. I’m actually quite proud of myself, that I was able to pull it off because I was like, ‘I don’t know if I could do this.’ But it was nice that there was a difference between like – so in between takes, we’d obviously discuss the scene and stuff like that, which was nice because obviously, the whole film is really dark, but there were always those lighthearted moments like, ‘oh you’re ok, you’re good’ – just come back to reality for a minute. And I was like, ‘yeah, this is real life. This isn’t happening right now,’ which was really cool.


Did you have to do any sort of special training to prepare for such an intense scene?

I actually had a session before I went on set with the stunt coordinator where I just did a bunch of heavy fitness workouts and punching and boxing exercises and stuff. It was actually really cool. It questioned my fitness, but it was so much fun. And then it was mainly just like choreographing, like moving around the bunker and stuff like that to prep for that scene.


Do you have any watch parties planned with family and friends?

Yeah, well my parents and one of my really close friends, we’ve all watched it now. I’ve watched it twice, but my friends are like, ‘no, no, no, we have to do a watch party for it.’ So yeah, I’ll probably be forced into doing one!


I know you’re starring in the upcoming highly anticipated series, The Fuck It Bucket – what can you tell us about it?

It is a fun project and I love the cast. So, The Fuck It Bucket is basically about this young girl called Mia who suffers from an eating disorder, which got her hospitalized over the summer and because of that she missed out on a lot of things that she would’ve done with her friends. So she just creates this list and her friends help her complete it.


That sounds really, really fun! I mean, I love a good bucket list movie. Do you have a bucket list of your own?

I actually don’t! You know, it’s really weird because I feel like it’s something that everyone has and I just don’t. I kind of just take life day by day, if I want to do something, I’ll go for it. Maybe I should start writing one. 


Well, I’m sure it would probably change as you progress through your career too. Doesn’t have to be like the typical, like jumping out of an airplane or skydiving. Do you maybe have any long-term career goals that you have that may be on your potential bucket list?

Yeah, there are long-term goals in terms of career-wise. I feel like they’re so, I don’t know, cliche as an actor, but I’d love to play a Disney princess for instance. That would absolutely be a dream. And just definitely do more films. But we’ll see; taking it day by day.


I think you’d make a great Disney princess!

Oh, thank you!


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Luther: The Fallen Sun is streaming now on Netflix.


Interview Rachel Martin

Photographer Jemima Marriott

Styling Cecilia Walker

Makeup Bow Bowman

Photography Assistant Eric Anderson

BTS Kelly Guibal

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