“If your church is the theater, New York means a lot,” British actress Cush Jumbo has said. The native Londoner initially came to New York in 2015 to star in Josephine and I, a one-woman play about Josephine Baker, which Jumbo also wrote. It includes anecdotes from Jumbo’s own experiences as a mixed-race woman—an autobiography-cum-biography of sorts. During the play’s run, Jumbo was approached by Christine Baranski and the creators of The Good Wife, who soon cast her in a three-episode arc that ultimately became an ongoing role on the series. And so, instead of returning home to London, Jumbo relocated to New York, and settled into life on the small screen.
Jumbo’s character of Lucca Quinn—an ambitious, impeccably dressed, and sharp-witted attorney—was one of the few characters to continue on in The Good Wife’s spin-off, the equally superb The Good Fight, which CBS All Access recently renewed for a fourth season. Jumbo’s professional and personal lives developed alongside her character’s: when Jumbo was expecting her son, Maximilian, Quinn was pregnant, too, allowing the show to explore the acrobatic balance between work and motherhood. The Good Fight, set in a liberal, mostly black law office in Chicago, has been praised for its fearless interpretations of real life. The second season explored an effort to impeach Donald Trump, and an episode in Season Three addressed the incident in which the white supremacist Richard Spencer was punched by a protester.
Jumbo initially watched The Good Wife when it first aired, in 2009, while she was studying at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in London. (“It was very good hangover TV,” she has confessed.) Today, she finds that her Shakespearean training is well suited to her current gig. “Shakespeare is court,” she has said. Television work aside, Jumbo was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2013 for her role as Marc Antony in an all-women production of Julius Caesar. Next summer, she will return to London to star as the title character in Greg Hersov’s production of Hamlet at the Young Vic. “Shakespeare wrote no other male character like Hamlet,” she has said, but she welcomes the challenge. “I have no fear these days,” she has said, crediting her success with this development. “Nothing scares me anymore.” —Clementine Ford