No Time to Die’s Lashana Lynch brings new light to James Bond franchise

No Time to Die star Lashana Lynch talks to Porter about black feminine energy, the new James Bond film and why she has inimitable self-confidence

Photo: Kennedi Carter/Porter/Net-a-Porter.com

Announcements around a new Bond film are often akin to a national holiday, but it was specifically heartening to see a Black woman at the centre when they announced the casting for No Time To Die: Lashana Lynch’s character Nomi becomes the first Black, female 00 agent after Bond retires from active service.

Lynch recalls the first meeting she had for the James Bond franchise, with producer Barbara Broccoli and director Cary Joji Fukunaga about a potential character, during which she performed a few scenes: “I got an M scene and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re getting a Black M?’ I was so excited!”

Working with Waller-Bridge, who was brought on as a screenwriter for the film, was a highlight of the job for Lynch, and she found herself taken aback by the resonance of her character Nomi’s portrayal: “[Waller-Bridge] brought a lightness of touch that really matched Black feminine energy. And I don’t quite know how she did that. When I read lines that were clearly from her, it all just made sense to the kind of upbringing that I imagined Nomi would have.”

Lashana Lynch wears top by Commission; skirt by 16Arlington; shoes byThe Attico; socks by Falke;
earrings by Roxanne Assoulin.
Photo: Kennedi Carter/Porter/Net-a-Porter.com

While she was auditioning, she had only told her mother and a close friend who helped her tape it – and they were the only two people Lynch shared the news with when she found out she got the part: “The howling that released from my mum’s mouth was like something I’ve never heard before. Like the biggest ‘Jesus!’ [She] screamed at the top of her lungs, but she also said, ‘I knew it’ and I said, ‘so did I’.”

Lynch’s self-belief at times seems otherworldly – though never arrogant; that she’s grateful for the opportunities but also acknowledges them as a birthright: “The brashness and confidence I have now, just imagine that in a little girl! I remember being rooted in a knowing that I can’t really explain, apart from it being ancestral.”

Ever since her childhood role as Pinocchio, Lynch has been reinventing roles that have been predominantly associated with men or whiteness: “Pinocchio was divine! I embodied [that role] like a proper puppet. I showed off a little bit because I was like, ‘I know this is supposed to be a boy and I don’t care.’ Literally, that gave me the foundation for ‘this Black girl can do anything’.”

Thanks to a supportive Black female headteacher and a “grounded, honest, quite traditional, but also forthright”Jamaican family, Lynch distinctly remembers growing up thinking she could do whatever she put her mind to: “Primary school taught me that Black people can do anything. I didn’t understand when I got into the world why people who looked a certain way couldn’t do something.”

Lynch reflects on the support she received as a child: “I mainly grew up with my grandmother who, if I was to say, ‘I want to be a beaver today,’ she [would be] like, ‘Yes, you better be the best beaver in the world!’ My mum reminded me the other day that my nan said, ‘You better really pay attention to that child, she’s going to put bread on the table. And I don’t mean crumbs, I mean bread.’ So now I’m putting bread on the table.”

Lashana Lynch wears shirt and pants by The Attico; ring by Dries Van Noten; earrings by Laura Lombardi. 
Photo: Kennedi Carter/Porter/Net-a-Porter.com

Next year, Lynch will star in the movie adaptation of the musical Matilda, playing the role of Miss Honey – one of literature’s most beloved teachers. Before that, though, the release of No Time To Die will change Lynch’s life as she knows it: “I feel like this came at the right time. I feel like Marvel happened exactly when it was supposed to and that prepared me for Bond physically, mentally, even spiritually. I feel like I’ve been prepared for this moment. I say that not having a damn clue what it means to have no anonymity. But there’s only one way to find out and that’s to properly step into it and live it. And that’s what I’m about to do.”

Lashana Lynch wears jacket by Wales Bonner; top by ALC; earrings by Completedworks. 
Photo: Kennedi Carter/Porter/Net-a-Porter.com

Lashana Lynch on her first audition for No Time To Die: “I got an M scene and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re getting a Black M?’ I was so excited!”

Lashana Lynch on growing up thinking she could do whatever she put her mind to: “Primary school taught me that Black people can do anything. I didn’t understand when I got into the world why people who looked a certain way couldn’t do something.”

Lashana Lynch on working with Phoebe Waller-Bridge: “[Waller-Bridge] brought a lightness of touch that really matched Black feminine energy. And I don’t quite know how she did that. When I read lines that were clearly from her, it all just made sense to the kind of upbringing that I imagined Nomi would have.”

Lashana Lynch on telling her friends and family she got the role: “The howling that released from my mum’s mouth was like something I’ve never heard before. Like the biggest ‘Jesus!’ [She] screamed at the top of her lungs, but she also said, ‘I knew it’ and I said, ‘so did I’.”

Lashana Lynch on her self-beliefThe brashness and confidence I have now, just imagine that in a little girl! I remember being rooted in a knowing that I can’t really explain, apart from it being ancestral.”

Lashana Lynch on her childhood role as Pinocchio: “Pinocchio was divine! I embodied [that role] like a proper puppet. I showed off a little bit because I was like, ‘I know this is supposed to be a boy and I don’t care.’ Literally, that gave me the foundation for ‘this Black girl can do anything’.”

Lashana Lynch on the support she received from her family as a child: “I mainly grew up with my grandmother who, if I was to say, ‘I want to be a beaver today,’ she [would be] like, ‘Yes, you better be the best beaver in the world!’ My mum reminded me the other day that my nan said, ‘You better really pay attention to that child, she’s going to put bread on the table. And I don’t mean crumbs, I mean bread.’ So now I’m putting bread on the table.”

All items worn by Lashana Lynch can be purchased from the magazine pages via Net-a-Porter.com.

To see the full interview with Lashana Lynch read Porter at https://www.net-a-porter.com/porter/article-56b2b868091b41f1 and/or download the Net-a-Porter app for iPhone, iPad and Android.

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