Twenty-six-year-old Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn still holds down a waitressing job in London, balancing it alongside callbacks, self-tapes, and a starring role in Academy Award–winning director Steve McQueen’s new drama, Lovers Rock. The second in McQueen’s five-part Small Axe anthology, it’s St. Aubyn’s first time in front of the camera.

“I was sent a draft of the script and then asked to come in and choose a scene,” says St. Aubyn. “There’s not too much dialogue. So I said to myself, I’m going to do two.” It was a bold move that paid off. During the first read, St. Aubyn was seated next to her co-star, the 2020 BAFTA Rising Star winner Micheal Ward. “We had really good chemistry right from the start,” she says of working alongside Ward. “I think for Steve, you could see sometimes he was closing his eyes and he was listening because this was his work and it was being brought to life.”