As a child, Asante attended the Barbara Speake stage school in Acton, London, where she trained as a pupil in dance and drama. She began her film and television career as a child actress, appearing as a regular in the British school drama Grange Hill. She was in the vanguard of the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s and was one of nine Grange Hill children to take it to the Reagan White House. She went on to gain credits in other British television series including Desmond’s (Channel 4) and Birds Of A Feather (BBC1), and was a Children’s Channel presenter for a year.
In her late teens, Asante left acting and made the move to screenwriting with a development deal from Chrysalis. Two series of the urban drama Brothers and Sisters followed, which Amma wrote and produced for her production company and BBC2.
Asante’s 2004 feature film, A Way of Life, was her directorial debut.
In November 2004 The London Film Festival awarded Asante the inaugural Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award, created to recognise the achievements of a new or emerging British writer/director who has shown great skill and imagination in bringing originality and verve to film-making. February 2005 saw Amma collect the award for The Times Breakthrough Artist of the Year at The South Bank Show Awards and nominations for Best Newcomer at both the Evening Standard and London Film Critics Awards.
At the BAFTA Film Awards in February 2005 Asante received the BAFTA Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a Writer/Director in a debut film.
On the same night, she scored a double triumph at the 2005 Miami International Film Festival, winning the award for Best Dramatic Feature in World Cinema and the FIPRESCI prize (International Federation of Film Critics prize) for Best Feature Film.
The 60th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® is delighted to announce that this year’s Opening Night gala will be Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.
The film will receive its European premiere on Wednesday 5 October at the Odeon Leicester Square, attended by cast and filmmakers with Asante, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike expected on the red carpet. There will be a live cinecast from the London event and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.
A United Kingdom is directed by Asante (Belle) from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky), based on the book Colour Bar by Susan Williams. The cast is led by David Oyelowo (Selma) as Seretse Khama with Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) playing his future wife Ruth Williams. Other cast includes Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean), Terry Pheto (Mandela), Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Arnold Oceng (Adulthood), Jack Lowden (’71) and Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey).