My childhood was like Wuthering Heights. I grew up on a smallholding in the middle of the North York Moors. It’s one of my favourite books. My mum used to play the Kate Bush song in the car on the drive to school and we’d all sing along.
Fame doesn’t change you, but it gives you confidence to be who you really are. When I was on Coronation Street, at 16, I was very uncomfortable with recognition. By the time I did Downton Abbey, I was older, wiser, prepared for it. Now I just do things my way and try to stay true to myself.
“Chuck a brick and run after it.” That’s what my dad always tells me. He has numerous weird and wonderful northern sayings. It means you’ve only got one life, so try things and have a go. “Don’t thrash yourself with nettles” is another one. It means don’t be too hard on yourself.
Divorce made me glad I’d kept my privacy. I’ve always had a line. I’ve never done paid interviews, had photos taken in my home, on holiday or at big life events. I was so grateful I’d maintained that boundary.
I’m in awe of musicians. I met Amy Winehouse and was starstruck. I walked past Jarvis Cocker at an awards show, but was too excited to say hi. In my teens, I listened to Pulp’s Different Class album on repeat.
I embarrassed myself in front of the Duchess of Cambridge. She visited the Downton set and walked in while me and Michelle Dockery were filming a scene in Lady Mary’s bedroom. She said: “It feels very strange to be in your bedroom”. I replied: “Yeah, not many people get to come in Lady Mary’s bedroom.” I didn’t mean it as a double entendre, but I swear I saw the faintest flicker of a smile.
Downton was a gamechanger for me. I’d been working professionally for 12 years when I got the role of Anna and it hugely elevated my career. It was wonderful, but we finished at the right time. Now it’s lovely to pop back and do the movies.
The answer to violence against women is education. Educating our society. Educating younger people. The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa were shocking, and scary but they’ve opened up conversations. My male friends have started seriously thinking about how women can feel vulnerable and making the streets safer.
Red wine and dark chocolate are my vices. When I go out, I like a negroni or a dirty martini, though I can’t drink many of them. Two cocktails and I’m done.
It’s my voice that people recognise. I get noticed in all sorts of places but only when I talk. Someone recognised me in a doctor’s surgery in Prague. A little boy in Australia said, “You’re Wendy from Bob the Builder!”
Mick Jagger is a big Downton fan. I heard he cut short a Rolling Stones rehearsal so they could go and watch it. I’d love that to be true.
I’m empowered by getting older. I turned 40 last year. I know my mind andfeel the most comfortable in my own skin I ever have. Times are changing in this industry. Age is something to be embraced. The older you get, the better an actor you are.
My friends call me Jo-Fro. Like the Yorkshire J-Lo. That’s what I’m going for.
Angela Black is available for streaming on ITV Hub. Downton Abbey: A New Era arrives in cinemas in March 2022