UGANDA- Sheila Atim was born in Uganda, Africa, in January 1991, and moved to the United Kingdom at the age of five (5) months to seek refuge with her mother.
Having chosen to stay behind, Sheila doesn’t have a relationship with her father any longer. Her father is a dentist. Having immigrated to Essex, UK, her mother struggled for a while before working in the health care industry. Her experiences as a black girl growing up in Rainham, London, when she was a child were hampered by racism and name-calling.
After shaving the side of her head for a school prom, she was recruited to do some modeling as a teenager.
In 2009, she was part of “All Walks Beyond the Catwalk”, an event hosted by the British Fashion Council to showcase clothes for women who “live their lives outside of the catwalk”. Later, she admitted that “modeling was never a big earner for me. I was unusual looking, so I couldn’t go for commercial castings.”
The wants and needs of immigrants such as Sheila Atim, who migrated to the UK, were similar to those of other immigrants. She wanted a better life for herself.
Thus, she studied biomedical science with the intention of becoming a doctor. Nevertheless, she gravitated toward performing arts and started learning acting and singing at the ‘WAC Arts College’ in London after always loving theatre and drama. At this point in her life, Sheila achieved an artistic breakthrough and changed careers. As a result, she became more serious about acting and got an agent.
At Wac Arts College, Sheila found mentorship and guidance in playwright Ché Walker. To this day, Ché remains one of her greatest inspirations in the industry. In 2013, Sheila Atim made her stage debut at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Ché Walker’s play ‘The Lightning Child‘. A few months later, she admitted in an interview that this experience changed her life, and industry experts also began to notice her potential.
A small role was then played by Sheila Atim in the TV series ‘I Live With Models’. Atim remained primarily focused on the theatre world in 2014, appearing in the plays Hopelessly Devoted’, ‘Rachel’, ‘Klook’s Last Stand’, and ‘Ghosttown’. In addition to receiving critical acclaim for her performances, she also gained invaluable experience.
For Atim, performing Shakespearean plays on stage was the ultimate goal. In 2015, she starred as Viola and Sebastian in ‘Twelfth Night’ and received critical acclaim. In the same year, she starred in classics such as Volpone, Love’s Sacrifice, and The Jew of Malta.
As a result of her extraordinary performances, she was cast in Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare trilogy at the ‘DonmarWarehouse’ in 2016. She played Ferdinand in ‘The Tempest’, Gadshill and Lady Percy in ‘Henry IV’, and Lucius in ‘Julius Caesar’.
In the following year, Sheila Atim wowed critics and audiences with ‘Girl From The North Country’. She played Marianne in ‘five star,’ a musical reimagining of Bob Dylan’s music. As a result of her heartfelt rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tight Connection To My Heart’ and her acting, she won the prestigious ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Musical’ award at the 2018 Laurence Oliver Awards.
With a few of her highest-rated plays under her belt like ‘Babette’s Feast’ and ‘Black Lives Black Words – The Interrogation of Sandra Bland,’ the talented actress is seemingly unstoppable. Critics have praised her radically different performance in ‘Othello’ (2018). In 2018, she also appeared in the television series ‘Harlots’ and ‘Bounty Hunters’, and in the feature film ‘Sulphur And White’.
In 2022, Sheila Atim says she had to give a “360 performance” while shooting ‘The Woman King’ which was released on September 16.
In the new movie also starring Viola Davis, the actress performed her own stunts. As the director of the movie, Gina Prince-Bythewood did not want to rely on cutaways or stunt doubles, so she had to consider how she would look from all angles.
The film stars Sheila Atim as members of the Agojie, a highly skilled team of all-female warriors who defended the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. As with all great epic movies, the Agojie were very real, but the movie spins a compelling drama with fictional characters, universal themes, and massive set pieces.
“I started from zero,” Atim recalls of her boot-camp-style training, which included mastering spear-throwing and learning a battle dance that “nearly killed me.”
Filming conditions in South Africa proved tough, too; like true Dahomey warriors, the cast members were slicked with oil (“I would get home covered in red dust”) and navigated the rocky terrain barefoot. “It’s an intense situation, and you’re trying to give the material the reverence that it deserves,” she says. “The stakes are definitely high.”
At home, Atim’s daily routine is decidedly more relaxed. After moving into her London apartment, she’s become obsessed with DIY projects (“I even went to an event with paint still on my arms”), and she enjoys going to jam sessions alone in her spare time. “Live music is one of the biggest replenishers for me,” she says. “I love being on my own, doing things on my own, going places on my own—that’s me, that’s my life, and I like it.”
Despite being a private person, Ugandan-British actress, singer, composer, and playwright Sheila Atim has not disclosed if she is dating anyone.