This Saturday (Oct. 19) is clearly Starz day on cable. At 9 p.m., the splendid "White Queen" mini-series concludes with kingdoms at stake. And at 10:05, "Dancing at the Edge" -- quieter, subtler, yet equally well-crafted -- begins. One of its strengths is Angel Coulby's superb singing; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Most actors collide with fussy casting restrictions. They’re
limited to one gender, one genre, one race.
Not Angel Coulby. Her first drama-school role was as Will
Scarlet, one of Robin Hood’s merry men. Her TV breakthrough was in “Merlin” --
a biracial actress playing Guinevere. “I was impressed by the very color-blind
approach,” she said.
And now she has TV’s best singing role – in cable’s “Dancing
on the Edge” mini-series -- even though many people didn’t know she can sing.
“My family knew,” said Coulby, 33. “But it was not something
I’d been talking about.”
Now the world hears her sing beautifully. “Edge” follows a
fictional big band in 1930s. Its Duke Ellington-type leader (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
makes an impression with royalty; so does its lead singer (Coulby), doing new
songs written in the style of that era. “I’d never realized how well it fits my
The era offered both elegance and despair, she said. “There
were a lot of race issues and class issues.”
On the one side, upper-crust London seemed fascinated by dating
black stars; “there was this crude idea of being with someone exotic.” On the
other, blacks often received second-class treatment.
Coulby’s own racial scene was a blend. Her parents – black father,
white mother – divorced early, but her London neighborhood was a rich mix. “My
school was hugely multi-cultural.”
She was 5 when her mother suggested she might be an actress
some day. She sang a lot in grade school and high school, a little in drama
school, but never really mentioned it afterward. She did a lot of British TV
dramas; then came “Merlin,” which reached the U.S. via NBC and then Syfy.
Over five seasons, Coulby transformed from Gwen the
housemaid to Guinevere, capturing the frustrations of women. “When I became
queen and people listened to me, it was much better.”
Then she leaped centuries – first to the ‘30s and then to
current times, playing a cop’s wife in the British version of the series known
as “The Bridge” in the U.S. “I was kind of happy putting on jeans and T-shirts,
after five years in corsets.”
“Dancing on the Edge.” Starz
Opener, 10:05 to 11:45 p.m. Saturday; reruns at
5:40 p.m. Monday and 11:05 p.m. Wednesday
Then four hour-long episodes, at 9 p.m.