Jamaican-British actress Mona Hammond OBE has died at the age of 91.
Described as a pioneer of Black British theatre, Hammond was best known for playing Blossom Jackson in EastEnders and Auntie Susu in the comedy sitcom Desmond’s. Marcus Ryder, chair of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, confirmed the news of Hammond’s passing on social media. “It is with sadness that I wake up to the news Mona Hammond has died,” he wrote. “Among her numerous achievements, she co-founded Talawa Theatre Company in 1985. She was also a @RADA_London graduate and received an honorary Rada Fellowship in 2019.”
Born in Jamaica to a Jamaican mother and Chinese father, Hammond—whose real name was Mavis Chin—moved to the UK at the age of 28 in 1959. As well as her many screen appearances, she was also a distinguished stage actor, and was celebrated for co-founding the Talawa Theatre Company, one of the country’s foremost Black theatre groups.
Tributes to the actor have poured in on social media following news of her death.
“Mona Hammond, a trailblazer in every way,” wrote ITV presenter Charlene White. “Thank you.”
“RIP Mona Hammond,” wrote radio presenter and journalist Lorraine King. “An extremely talented Jamaican actress who did theatre and TV but will always be Auntie Susu from Desmond’s to many of us. She will be sorely missed. May she sleep peacefully.”
R.I.P. Ms Mona Hammond.