Interview - Alexia Khadime (The Distance You Have Come)

The creativity in the rehearsal room is always bubbling over like crazy’

Alexia Khadime’s CV reads like a dream. Having made her West End debut in The Lion King, the London based actress has since starred in some of the biggest musicals in London, taking on the role of Eponine in Les Miserables, playing the third ever principle Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked, and breaking hearts as Nabulungi in the original London cast of The Book of Mormon. Add to that a number of high profile voice over jobs and TV and film work, and it’s easy to see why she is considered one of the West End’s most reliable leading ladies.  

‘When I was younger I did drama classes after school but I never thought of acting as a career’, Alexia Khadime divulges. ‘I studied English Literature, Psychology, and Maths, and I thought I would do something with Psychology.’ But, she explains, her affinity for performing led to a number of television appearances, and a tour which took her away from school and introduced her to the career which she would go on to pursue. ‘I’ve always kind of felt, as cheesy as it sounds, that my career picked me’.

Now, she is preparing to appear in award winning composer Scott Alan’s song cycle The Distance You Have Come, having been asked by him personally to be a part of the cast. ‘He sent me a message saying “I’m doing a show and I want you to be part of it” and of course I said yes!’ She gushes. The pair had worked together on concerts before and Khadime admits, ‘I think I spent most of my time crying during rehearsals because his lyrics are so honest and raw’. Delving further into this idea, she explains ‘it follows these six different people and how they juggle the challenges in life, and love. So, it taps into all of that and people can relate to it.’

The actress is excited too, by the prospect of being involved with a project from its very first iteration. ‘You're the first one doing it. So you’re very much a part of the process and part of the beginning stages of it. And because you are creating a character, a part of you is injected into it’.

The cast of The Distance You Have Come
Photo credit - Darren Bell
We discuss the idea of new musicals versus established classics in terms of attracting new audiences, and Khadime posits that canny musicals today are tapping into ‘The Now’ in order to remain relevant. Listing The Book of Mormon, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and Hamilton as just a few examples she explains that ‘for people who don't really go to see musicals and think that maybe theatre is not really their thing… it's opening up the gates for them to come and enjoy themselves’. Focusing on The Book of Mormon, she says ‘it's not your classic musical. It’s written by two guys who write South Park. You’re belly laughing the entire time!’
She also thinks that the music of Scott Alan in particular is attractive to new audience members due to its grounded and relatable content. ‘It's very honest. It's the honesty, the rawness that, I think, pulls people in. And that is very much the case in The Distance You Have Come’.

And of course, as the sentiment goes, nothing beats live theatre. For Khadime, that is a sentiment which resonates as both on stage and off. ‘You can press rewind on your TV and stuff like that, but to watch live theatre is amazing. Even the same show eight times a week is slightly different every time for the actors.’

The cast of The Distance You Have Come
Photo credit - Darren Bell 
I ask about what life is like when the actress is not on stage. After all, appearing in such physically and emotionally demanding shows eight times a week is undoubtedly exhausting. ‘Day to day I'm a home girl’ she laughs, revealing that although she enjoys going out occasionally, balance is vital.

For young and upcoming performers Khadime also stresses that it’s important to always be practicing and improving. ‘Your Denzel Washingtons, your Meryl Streeps, your Viola Davises, they are still constantly sharpening their tools, and that's really important.’ But she also warns against pushing too much. ‘Eight shows a week is not easy! You need to make sure that you're rested so you can be alert and good to go. I might go to the gym or see if I can get to a singing class, but rest is also very important. So don't burn the candle at both ends because it will catch up with you!’