Bristol24/7 Person of the Year: Jayde Adams
“Patriarchy tells us every day that we should care about how we look because that’s the most important thing – but I do the opposite of that.”
Those are the unequivocal words of Jayde Adams, comedian, actress, director, singer, dancer and unstoppable force, having had a tremendously successful year.
Eliminating patriarchy is just one task on Jayde’s agenda, which has evolved this year from playing a bloodthirsty matriarch in The Fence to bewitching the nation Be sure to come dance with her professional dance partner Karen Hauer.
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We’re meeting at the Metropolitan on Whiteladies Road, “the new place, apparently,” according to Jayde, who has just returned to Bristol after a standup gig in Exeter alongside Dylan Moran, Mike Wozniak and others.
In the coming year, the 37-year-old will tour her comedy show, appear in the film version of the musical Take That and return to her role on the award-winning sitcom Alma is not normal and star in her own sitcom inspired by a Stokes Croft call center. In 2022, Jayde was a TV Host, Standup Comedian, Actress, Dancer, Podcast Host, and TikTok Guru:
“The last day I had off was the Mighty Hoopla Big Weekender at Butlin’s Bognor Regis, and then I went right back to work,” she says.
“I’m so busy but I’ll never complain about it because it’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
Adams, who greets me with a hug, is chic in all-white linen, incredibly charismatic and witty, obviously. Super confident, she says matter-of-factly, “There’s a lot of ego in the stuff I do, but I already know I’m brilliant.”
Beneath her infectious confidence, she admits her success is hard-won: “I’m not related to anyone in the industry and I don’t have the support of RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] or Cambridge or Oxford, so I just have to take every opportunity and ride that wave.
“However, I am not on a boat that I am not steering. I don’t let the waves carry me: it’s my responsibility.”
Heading into 2022, her proudest moment this year is dancing the Cha Cha Cha What a feeling from the 1983 film Flashdance – because “it made the women feel good”.
“I’m constantly inundated with messages from people telling them I’ve changed their lives,” says Jayde of the reaction to the routine, which is the most viewed online of the entire series.
“There’s a girl who sent me a video of her strutting down the street in her pants with a big butt and saying she’s hated the way she looks for ages and today she went out in her pants and was amazing felt.”
The Bristol-native comedian may have started at the fish counter at Asda Bedminster, but a self-confessed ‘diva’, she was no stranger to glitz and glamor when she broke onto screens Strictly speaking 20th year.
Growing up, Jayde competed in freestyle disco dance competitions with her sister Jenna, who was two years older than her. Dance was a big part of the comedian’s relationship with her sister, who died of a brain tumor in 2011. During the very first series of Strict In 2004, Jayde turned to her sister and said, “I’ll be there Strict.”
While the statement was true, Jenna’s absence strained every moment of Jayde’s time on the long-running dance show, no matter how joyous she might be. “We hate the ‘J’ word Strictbut I knew it was going to be an incredibly emotional journey because I hadn’t danced with anyone since my sister,” she says.
This was one of the reasons she wanted to work with a professional dancer, “not because I don’t think the men can handle it; men can handle it. I just wanted a bird around me, I wanted a girl who would be compassionate and empathetic.”
The very real subject of loss is one that Jayde has not shied away from in her comedy for the past decade. her debut standup show, 31written after the death of her sister, was nominated for the Edinburgh Newcomer Award in 2016.
Jayde’s fifth Edinburgh Fringe show will be a stand-up show, touring the UK in April and June including the Bristol Old Vic, it said Men I can save you — a show she describes as “a real piss with me trying to be like Tony Robbins’ male self-help guru.” Jayde explores her own savior complex by observing how men view a movement toward equality as a loss of their own position.
“Women don’t need anyone right now—they seem to be doing just fine on their own,” Jayde says, explaining why, as a group that needs her help, men were an obvious choice.
Jayde came up with the idea for the show before her relationship with a boyfriend ended, but her new single status allowed her to write about her sexual and other self-discovery. She is, she says, “an incredibly proud single woman”.
Despite her confidence, like many in the industry, she has become the target of trolls and haters, but makes many happy in the face of it by taking on her critics online to show resilience.
“Even this morning a guy on the internet who was very angry with me started sending me all sorts of insults,” Jayde admits, rolling her eyes.
“As a woman, if you have any type of voice, there’s a cacophony of guys trying to take it away from you.
“It hurts, but they’ll never see it.”
Despite being known for her stand-up skills, Jayde tells Bristol24/7 that acting has always been her number one goal: “Comedy was great, but I actually only did it because I couldn’t find another way into acting.”
In pursuit of her dream, Jayde has taken on more acting roles this year than ever before Alma is not normal and the upcoming Take That film on her own sitcom – Ruby speaks. The 2023 ITVX series is inspired by Jayde’s previous call center job on Stokes Croft, which was “boring as hell but my best friend worked there so we had a great time”.
Her open casting call for the project, which took seven years in the making, resulted in her finding “a star” in the form of a Wetherspoons chef who made Jayde feel “like Simon Cowell when Paul Potts was the entered the stage”. Giving young artists a platform is a goal of Jayde, who is interested in “sending down the ladder”.
Despite the struggle to bring down the patriarchy, joke and dance after joke, Jayde admits the problem runs deep.
“I’m more compassionate with men’s problems than I’ve ever been with women,” she says, revealing her only New Year’s resolution for 2023. “That’s why I’ve decided to stop holding women to the higher expectations that I don’t hold men to.”
“I always think before I start blaming others, what’s my role in this? How can I get better before I start pointing fingers? That’s what makes a good comedian.”
Tickets for Men, I Can Save You at the Bristol Old Vic in 2023 can be found at www.bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on/jayde-adams-2022
Main photo: Jordan Rossi/Hunger
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