Trailblazing EastEnders actress Mona Hammond dies aged 91
LONDON – Mona Hammond, the former EastEnders star and champion of black theatre acting talent, has died aged 91. The Jamaican-British actress was best known for playing the matriarch Blossom Jackson on the soap from 1994 to 1997, briefly reprising her role in 2010. An EastEnders spokeswoman said they were “deeply saddened” at the news.
“Mona created a no-nonsense grandmother in Blossom Jackson, who was adored by the audience and everyone who worked with her.” News of her death was announced on Twitter by Marcus Ryder, chair of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada), where Hammond studied in the 1960s.
Hammond also co-founded the groundbreaking Talawa Theatre Company in Croydon in 1986 to help address the “lack of creative opportunities for black actors and the marginalisation of black peoples from cultural processes”. In a statement given to the BBC, the organisation said it was “devastated” at news of Hammond’s death.
“As one of the founders of Talawa, a trailblazer and champion of Black British theatre, Mona’s passion and vision will remain fundamental to all we do, and her legacy will forever burn bright,” it read. Before gracing Albert Square, Hammond portrayed Auntie Susu in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmond’s in the early 1990s, and its subsequent spin-off, Porkpie.
Bafta said it was “saddened” at the news of the death of the “trailblazing actor who played a range of memorable roles across British television”.
Former EastEnders actress Michelle Gayle led the tributes, again calling Hammond “a trailblazer” and “a queen”. Another former EastEnders star Cheryl Fergison described her as an “inspiration” on Twitter. Former Coronation Street star Ray Fearon wrote: “RIP Jamaican Queen. Gone but never forgotten.” Loose Women presenter Charlene White also paid her respects online in similar fashion.