Iconic Jamaican Actress and Broadcaster Leonie Forbes Has Died

Born Leonie Evadne Forbes, one of Jamaica’s greatest history-makers in theatre and radio broadcasting, has passed away at the age of 85 on Tuesday, October 25, 2022. It was reported that Forbes spoke up about not feeling well earlier today and so was taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies where she later died.

Forbes was born at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital on June 14, 1937, and was raised in Kingston as an only child. Daughter of mother G. Forbes-Wedderburn and father Roderick Wedderburn she is a graduate of Mico Practising School, Kingston Senior School, Durham College, and Excelsior College. After transitioning into the world of work, she worked as a typist for Sir Philip Sherlock before leaving to work as a playwright for Barry Reckord.

Her career in the broadcasting and theatre industry began when she started working with Reckord. In order to further her talents in both, she migrated to London for a six-year period where she completed a diploma course in Radio Television, and Stage (at the RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts]) and assisted with the writing of scripts for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation.

An outstanding figure in pantomime and theatre, Forbes appeared in the pantomime Cinderella and theatre productions such as Unknown Woman of Arras, Days of the Lion, Old Story Time, The Rope and the Cross, Smile Orange, and Antony and Cleopatra for which she played the leading role, among many others.

The late Forbes was honoured for her role in “Lord Have Mercy” in 2003 when she received the Gemini Award that year for Best Actress in a comedy-drama. More recently, she was also bestowed with a certificate of merit and a citation in acknowledgment of her outstanding body of work. The ceremony was hosted in New York at the Consulate General.

Making the presentation, Acting Consul General, Lincoln Downer stated Forbes, “blazed a trail of excellence and has also paved the way for aspiring Jamaicans and Caribbean actors and actresses. It is only fitting that we applaud Ms. Forbes given her outstanding contribution to the dramatic arts and for promoting Brand Jamaica.”

Also called M.s Lee, Forbes had a book written entitled Leonie: Her Autobiography, Leonie Forbes as Told to Mervyn Morris. She noted that she hoped the book would be “an encouragement for others to write their own story”.

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