Jennifer Saunders Talks About New ‘Sister Act’ Play and Why She Now Fully Endorses ‘Wokeness’ to Take Over

You can take one look at Jennifer Saunders’ Twitter account and know exactly where she stands politically.

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But, when it came to who she wished to be the next Prime Minister, she said”

“I’m hoping it’s Liz Truss, for comedy reasons.”

“She is just a very funny person. She has so many faces.”

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The 64-year-old comedian spoke to The Evening Standard’s Nick Curtis in July via Zoom from her dressing room at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo, where she was preparing to take the stage as Mother Superior in “Sister Act,” a musical based on the hit 1992 comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The show was supposed to take place in 2020, with Saunders’ old friend Goldberg reprising her role as a gangster’s moll hiding out in a convent. But the pandemic changed everything, and she’s now playing opposite signer Beverly Knight.

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Saunders had previously only sung in the hilarious French and Saunders spoofs and as the Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2. However, she says her live singing technique is  “getting better. In the beginning, I couldn’t keep time, and I was singing a tune that was only in my head. The band would start playing, and one of us would finish first.”

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Saunders trained professionally as a drama teacher at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where she met her long-time friend and collaborator, Dawn French. When asked if she’s always craved playing straight roles or aspired to perform in musicals, she replied, “not really.”

“I was just lucky enough to be asked. It came at a time when all the kids were grown up [she has three daughters with her husband of 37 years, Ade Edmondson] so you are not so tied to the home. I am not driven at all and I never miss working, though Ade does: we always used to take jobs so one of us would be at home. Now it’s a matter of feeling you will be happy: I can’t see the point at my age of doing anything that is going to be a trial.”

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She and her husband divide their time between Dartmoor and London and are very enthusiastic grandparents to five adorable grandchildren between the ages of four months and 9-years-old, courtesy of her daughters, Beattie and Ella.

“It gives you more life because you are doing all the young stuff again, jumping in the sea and messing about, though it is more tiring than I had ever imagined,” she says.

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Their youngest daughter Freyer joined her during the lockdown in Devon, where sadly, Jennifer’s mother died last November.

“It wasn’t too grim, to be honest,” she says. “It was her time and she was ready to go. She’d had a few strokes and gradually slowed down, but she wasn’t bedridden for too long, and we were all bubbled together so my brother and I could do a lot of the caring for her.”

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Some years back, Saunder’s pilot father died of cancer, and she had a scary brush with breast cancer in 2010, but those were just some of many things she refuses to fuss about.

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Unlike many comedy greats, she’s not grown sourer with age and definitely doesn’t identify with other comedians like Dave Chapelle and Bill Maher, who often rail against the new generation’s ideals often referred to as “wokeness.”

“I don’t think it is,” she says decisively. “Maybe the fear of [being cancelled] has stopped someone having a go at someone else, but maybe that’s a good thing. If I look back on some stuff we did, I think we were terribly mean. Now we are old and [have become] the establishment. So let ‘wokeness’ take over and let’s see what happens. If you think of it as kindness, or considering who you might hurt, it’s a good thing.”

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You can also watch a trailer for Sister Act in the video below.

And Here’s a little bonus footage of Saunders and the Sister Act crew having a bit of fun.

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  1. “Jennifer Saunders on starring in Sister Act, her pick for PM and why ‘wokeness’ should take over” Evening Standard.