Actress Mona Hammond has died aged 91, as tributes pour in for 'trailblazer' actress
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Actress Mona Hammond has died aged 91, as tributes pour in for ‘trailblazer’ actress.

The Jamaican-British best known for playing Blossom Jackson in BBC soap EastEnders and Auntie Susu in sitcom Desmond’s, was a star of stage and screen for decades.

The late actress has been described as a ‘pioneer’ in the industry for Black actors, having co-founded a black theatre company in the 1980s, and performing hordes of roles across stage, television, radio and film.

Hammond was made an OBE in the 2005 Queen’s birthday honours list for her services to drama. In 2018, she was awarded the Women of the World lifetime achievement award for her theatre career and championing black British actors. 

Former EastEnders actress Cheryl Fergison led tributes to Hammond on Tuesday, describing her as an ‘inspiration’.

She wrote on Instagram: ‘What a wonderful actress and pioneering woman, RIP Mona Hammond 91 fantastic years of inspiration.’ 

Marcus Ryder, chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada), mourned her loss on Twitter: ‘It is with sadness that I wake up to the news Mona Hammond has died. 

Actress Mona Hammond has died aged 91, as tributes pour in for 'trailblazer' actress

Actress Mona Hammond has died aged 91, as tributes pour in for ‘trailblazer’ actress

Mona Hammond was most known for her role as Blossom Jackson in BBC 's EastEnders

Mona Hammond was most known for her role as Blossom Jackson in BBC ‘s EastEnders

She has died aged 91, with tributes pouring in for the 'trailblazer' actress

She has died aged 91, with tributes pouring in for the ‘trailblazer’ actress

The Duchess of Cornwall (left) with actress Mona Hammond during a reception at Clarence House in London in 2018

The Duchess of Cornwall (left) with actress Mona Hammond during a reception at Clarence House in London in 2018

Loose Women presenter Charlene White described the actress as a 'trailblazer in every way' in a tribute

Loose Women presenter Charlene White described the actress as a ‘trailblazer in every way’ in a tribute 

Mona Hammond: A ‘pioneer’ for Black British actors 

The late star began her career on the stage

The late star began her career on the stage

The late star has been described as a ‘pioneer’ for Black British actors, championing roles in the industry. 

She began her career in acting on the stage, appearing as Lady Macbeth in an all-Black cast, and starring in multiple productions by up-and-coming Black writers, including Sweet Talk and Josephine House. 

In 1986, she co-founded theatre company Talwa Theatre, as a response to the lack of creative opportunities for Black actors. 

It has since produced more than 80 productions, from African classics to Oscar Wilde.

She was celebrated with an OBE in 2005 for her services to drama. 

In 2018, she was given the Women of the World Lifetime Achievement Award for her work championing Black British actors. 

‘Among her numerous achievements she co-founded Talawa Theatre Company in 1985. She was also a graduate and received an honorary RADA Fellowship in 2019.’ 

In a statement, EastEnders said: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear that Mona Hammond has passed away.

‘Mona created a no-nonsense grandmother in Blossom Jackson, who was adored by the audience and everyone who worked with her. Our love and thoughts are with Mona’s family and friends.’ 

Loose Women presenter Charlene White described the actress as a ‘trailblazer in every way’ in a tribute.

An EastEnders fan site tweeted this morning: ‘RIP Mona Hammond, who played Blossom Jackson in #EastEnders.

‘Really sad to hear of Mona Hammond passing. Blossom was a great character during the early years of #EastEnders and was a great family figure for the Jackson family in their early days. R.I.P.’

Her Albert Square character, Blossom Jackson, was a key figure in the Jackson family. 

She began the role in 1994, remaining there until 1997, after 233 episodes. She then returned in 2010 for two episodes to attend her on-screen great-grandson Billie Jackson’s funeral.

It was her second role in the BBC soap, having first taken the part of Michelle Fowler’s midwife in 1986. 

Mona began her career in acting on the stage, appearing as Lady Macbeth in an all-Black cast, and starring in multiple productions by up-and-coming Black writers, including Sweet Talk and Josephine House. 

She also spent two years with the Royal National Theatre’s productions, including Fuente Ovejuna, Peer Gynt and The Crucible. 

She then worked on television programmes The Sweeney, Juliet Bravo, and Coronation Street, before moving to EastEnders.

She also starred in Holby City, as well as Death in Paradise, Doctor Who, The Bill and Last of the Mohicans among others.

In her earlier career, she played Susu in Desmond’s cast, continuing the role in the show’s spin-off, Porkpie. 

The late star could also be heard on the airwaves, playing Mabel Thompson on BBC’s The Archers. 

Her career extended to the silver screen, taking roles in Coriolanus, 10,000 BC, Kinky Boots, Manderlay and Life and Death of Peter Sellers. 

Tributes have flooded in for Mona Hammond, who has been described as a 'pioneer' in the industry

Tributes have flooded in for Mona Hammond, who has been described as a ‘pioneer’ in the industry

Mona began her career in acting on the stage, before moving to television programmes

Mona began her career in acting on the stage, before moving to television programmes

Peter Coe, theatre director, talking with Mona Hammond, Oscar James and Merdel Jordine, as part of the all-black cast appearing in his production of Macbeth

Peter Coe, theatre director, talking with Mona Hammond, Oscar James and Merdel Jordine, as part of the all-black cast appearing in his production of Macbeth

Mona in Holby City, as one of her many roles in popular television soaps

Mona in Holby City, as one of her many roles in popular television soaps

In 1986, she co-founded theatre company Talwa Theatre, as a response to the lack of creative opportunities for Black actors. 

It has since produced more than 80 productions, from African classics to Oscar Wilde. 

Born in Tweeside, Clarendon, Jamaica on January 1, 1931, Mona was named Mavis Chin by her Chinese father and Jamaican mother. 

She moved to England in 1959 on a Jamaican Scholarship, where she worked for Norman and Dawbarn Architects. 

There, she went to evening classes at the City Literary Institute for two years and was awarded a Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She graduated in 1964 having moved to the UK at the age of 28.

She was celebrated with an OBE in 2005 for her services to drama. The next year, she was was presented with the Edric Connor Inspiration Award, Screen Nation Film and Television Awards’ highest honour in the country.

And in 2018, she was given the Women of the World Lifetime Achievement Award for her work championing Black British actors.

Born in Tweeside, Clarendon, Jamaica on January 1, 1931, Mona was named Mavis Chin by her Chinese father and Jamaican mother

Born in Tweeside, Clarendon, Jamaica on January 1, 1931, Mona was named Mavis Chin by her Chinese father and Jamaican mother

She was celebrated with an OBE in 2005 for her services to drama. And in 2018, she was given the Women of the World Lifetime Achievement Award

She was celebrated with an OBE in 2005 for her services to drama. And in 2018, she was given the Women of the World Lifetime Achievement Award

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