Wunmi Mosaku remembers the exact moment she realized she wanted to be an actor. "It would have been in the Royal Court Theater in Manchester. I was watching Patrick O'Kane in Shoot the Crow," she recalls. "I was right up against the stage, and he looked down at me. I remember thinking, 'He's looking at me, but he's not really looking at me at the same time.' The fourth wall really blew my mind. I just thought, 'This is magical.'"
Suffice it to say, Mosaku has come a long way since that moment in Manchester. In recent years, the actress has broken out with roles in genre-defying series like Lovecraft Country, Marvel's Loki, and We Own This City, in addition to films like 2020's acclaimed His House. She has, in other words, dipped her toe into every kind of Hollywood production imaginable. Her newest film, Call Jane, is a smaller-scale drama that, much like We Own This City, explores a very real moment in American history.
Mosaku stars as Gwen, a vocal and determined member of a Chicago-based underground network known as the Jane Collective, which found ways to provide women with access to safe abortions during a period where it was illegal in parts of the U.S. When Mosaku was filming Call Jane alongside Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, she saw it as a proper period piece. "I didn't know that Roe v. Wade could ever be overturned. I just didn't know," she says. "I thought I was in a historical film about how things used to be and how lucky we are now."
How does Mosaku feel about Call Jane now, knowing its more relevant than ever? "It's intimidating, actually," she admits. "It kind of breaks my heart."
While the greater cultural impact of Call Jane may have been unforeseen, actually acting in the movie was the sort of experience Mosaku always hopes for. "I really love working with new directors. I've been reading a lot of stuff from new writers, and it's really exciting," she says. "But so is working with someone as brilliant and exciting as Sigourney. It's great to sit in both of those worlds."
Below, Mosaku shares with A.frame her five favorite films.
Directed by: John Huston | Written by: Carol Sobieski
I think the acting in Annie is just brilliant. The music is, obviously, brilliant, and so is the story. But I also think there’s something really relatable about Annie's search for home. As an immigrant, I definitely felt connected to her when I first saw it.
Directed by: Emile Ardolino | Written by: Paul Rudnick
I am a huge, huge fan of Whoopi Goldberg. I watched everything she did when I was younger, and Sister Act just brings me joy. When it's on, I can't stop singing or dancing. I can't watch it sat down, really. My husband might even have a video from the other week of me singing a song from Sister Act at my mom's house. It just brings me such joy.
Directed by: Ryan Coogler | Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
Black Panther was the first time I had seen Africa depicted in such a way onscreen. I saw me, mine, and ours represented in a comic book world, and I didn't think previously that comics and superheroes had a place for someone like me. I had never really watched comic book movies, so Black Panther was literally my way into the genre. It was my introduction to the MCU, and I loved it. My husband's also African American and I'm African, so I love the sense of kinship in the film, as well as the arguments that Killmonger and T'Challa have with each other. I loved the film's ideas and its approach to discussing them. It was very, very Pan-African and clever and interesting, and I didn't expect something like that from Marvel.
Directed and written by: Barry Jenkins
Moonlight has a special place in my heart, because of the timing of when it came out and where I was in my life at the time. Beyond that, I love seeing Black men be vulnerable and get to really explore a whole spectrum of emotions onscreen. I had never seen that before. The film is so sensitive. It's like love exposed. It's so raw and beautiful.
Directed and written by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
When Shoplifters came out, my husband and my auntie kept telling me, "You've got to watch this film," and I kept putting it off. I'm quite bad in the cinema, honestly. Generally, if you put me in a dark room, I'll want to go to sleep. I'm dyslexic as well, so reading the subtitles in foreign films can be really hard for me. But watching Shoplifters was, for me, like the first time I actually read a novel. I usually just read plays or short stories, but when I read a novel for the first time, I felt like I finally got to experience the full breadth of a story.
Shoplifters was the first time a foreign film really opened me up like that. Reading the subtitles wasn't a chore, and my heart really broke open. I wasn't expecting that. I thought the subtitles would create a separation between the film and I, but they didn't. It’s a perfect film. The acting in it is really human and really honest, too. There's no frills in those performances. It's just, this is who we are, how we feel, what we’re doing, and how we're living.