It’s no act, being Jewish is in my DNA

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, June 25, 2009

It’s been one of those weeks where synchronicity has brought three acting parts my way, each totally different and each filming in a different British city.

First, to Birmingham to play an innocent woman dubbed “The Black Widow” by her neighbours for allegedly murdering two husbands — and now seemingly attempting to murder her third.

Mid week I’m in Glasgow in the role of an aggressive, predatory female editor of a “Lads “ magazine who doesn’t know when enough is enough.

Then I’m bombing down to Brighton where I play a ruthless villainess who is attempting to take over the world with evil mechanical bunny rabbits (not an episode of Spooks, just in case you were wondering, but a kids’ series).

Each character needs to be taken apart, analysed and understood. What is the driving motivation to each of their identities? What makes a woman take the flak for murders she hasn’t committed? What makes another so jaded that she can drink her male colleagues under the table?

And — most importantly for my third role — what mechanical engineering course makes one adept at manufacturing killer toy rabbits?

And would Sir Alan Sugar like to market them?

All of this led me to think about the real me. What is my driving motivation? What is my identity?

Surprisingly, to me, it all came back to being Jewish. I say surprisingly because I spent most of my 20s and early 30s on a path that took me far from my religion. Although I always felt Jewish I wouldn’t have said that it was my overwhelming point of definition.

Woman, actor, English may have come nearer the top of my internal Google search list. And there are many roles to play within those categories.

But since becoming a wife and mother I find that Jewishness is hardwired within me. It is the centre of the wheel from which all spokes emanate.

I am an integrated, secular actress (but not so integrated that I don’t feel at home in a shul or round the Chief Rabbi’s table for dinner). I am the Jewish daughter who always brings flowers on Friday night. I am the friend who cannot help but offer advice. I am the sister who would fight to the death for my sibling. I am the wife who tries her best to create a moral and embracing home.

And I am the Jewish mother who has all the neuroses, the love and the cuisine — culminating in my only real murdering instinct… I can now make a killer chicken soup.

Last updated: 12:13pm, June 25 2009