On my radar: Jehnny Beth’s cultural highlights

The Savages frontwoman and actor on her admiration for Cillian Murphy, why she was thrilled by Sex Education and how boxing has kept her body and soul together

Born Camille Berthomier in Poitiers, France, in 1984, Jehnny Beth is a musician, producer and actor. She is the frontwoman of rock band Savages and half of duo John & Jehn. She released her debut solo album, To Love Is to Live, in June 2020, and a duet album, Utopian Ashes, with Bobby Gillespie in 2021. She is also an actor and was nominated for best female newcomer at the 2019 César awards for her role in An Impossible Love. She stars in Jacques Audiard’s latest film, Paris, 13th District, and tours Europe this summer, including All Points East in London on 28 August.

In The End, It Was All About Love by Musa Okwonga

1. Book

In the End, It Was All About Love by Musa Okwonga

This walks the fine line between poetry and stream of consciousness. His writing is so precise, and although it’s very intimate, it also has that universal reach. It’s about an artist who moves from London to Berlin, and he describes the racism he experiences there. There’s a lot of introspection, but it’s not done in a navel-gazing way; it’s very touching and compassionate. It’s great when books can get you into somebody’s head and view the world as they see it, and still relate even though it’s very different from your own experience. I think that’s what books are made for.

2. Film

Titane (dir Julia Ducournau, 2021)

Star on a reasonably priced car: Agathe Rousselle in Titane.
Agathe Rousselle in Titane. Photograph: Sydney Film Festival

Agathe Rousselle and I were the last two actresses to be considered for the lead role, and she got the part. Although in the film industry that could trigger some distance, we became friends, and we’re actually collaborating on a project. The film is great – I mean, it won the Palme d’Or. What I love about it is that it’s a French movie that draws a line and shows we don’t have to refer to the Nouvelle Vague – Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer – here comes a new generation. It’s a film that really divides people, and I quite like that. I like movies that create an extreme reaction.

3. TV

Sex Education (Netflix)

Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson in Sex Education.
Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson in Sex Education. Photograph: Sam Taylor/Netflix

I was really thrilled when this came out. It’s a TV show I would have loved to have had when I was a teenager, that talks about teenage sexuality with, like the title says, an educational standpoint. And it has Ezra Furman’s soundtrack all over it – I’m a big fan of Ezra’s work. It’s very entertaining and has a great cast: Gillian Anderson is incredible in it and really funny. I remember when I was a teenager, I had a friend whose parents were sex therapists. And he was always very intriguing – that’s the kind of people you want to talk to.

4. Art

Anne Imhof: Natures Mortes, Palais de Tokyo, Paris

‘A world in itself’: Eliza Douglas performs in Anne Imhof: Natures Mortes.
‘A world in itself’: Eliza Douglas performs in Anne Imhof: Natures Mortes. Photograph: Andrea Rossetti

This was a performance that lasted six hours. You wander through and discover different scenes with dancers, musicians, people being tattooed live. It’s a world in itself: time is different, the seconds are slower, no one moves fast, everything sort of stretches out. You never know when something is going to start or where: you just have to follow the movement of the crowd. With phones nowadays we’re never lost, we always know where we are going. But the freedom in that sensation of being lost was great. And the main singer and performer, Eliza Douglas, was incredible.

5. Sport


Boxing training at a gym in Lagos.
‘Boxing is an art’: a training session at a gym in Lagos.
Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/EPA

I started boxing when I moved to Paris three or four years ago, after 12 years in London. It was hard to meet new people and the boxing club gave me that sense of community back. Boxing is an art. Like many sports, it demands your physical strength, but you also have to work on your mind, because you cannot win a match if you don’t believe you can. When I couldn’t go on tour because of Covid, boxing provided me another stage, another place where I could check where I’m at mentally and physically.

6. Actor

Cillian Murphy

‘Believable in every role he plays’: Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders.
‘Believable in every role he plays’: Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders. Photograph: Robert Viglasky/BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd.

I really admire Cillian Murphy. I like how discreet he is in life and how he doesn’t play the star game; there is a real quality to that because then he’s very believable in every role he plays. He’s great in Peaky Blinders, but I think his best performance is always going to be the one that’s coming next. He’s one of those actors who will never stop learning and never stop progressing. He’s going to do the next Christopher Nolan movie and just knowing that is exciting in itself.


Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
On my radar: Bolu Babalola’s cultural highlights
The novelist and comedy writer on her song of the summer, her new favourite sitcom and the brilliance of director Lynette Linton

Killian Fox

02, Jul, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
On my radar: Akala’s cultural highlights
The rapper, presenter and author on the album he’s listening to a lot, Idris Elba’s mean side, and the enduring power of Tupac

Kathryn Bromwich

19, Feb, 2022 @3:00 PM

Article image
On my radar: Tobias Menzies’s cultural highlights
The star of Game of Thrones and The Crown on his favourite political podcast, a gripping French spy drama, and why the UK hasn’t had enough of experts

Michael Hogan

18, Jul, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
On my radar: Tanya Moodie’s cultural highlights
The Motherland actor on shouting at the television, the memoir she couldn’t put down, and the street food she can’t get enough of

Kathryn Bromwich

11, Dec, 2021 @3:00 PM

Article image
On my radar: Elizabeth Strout's cultural highlights
The novelist on the comfort of Edward Hopper, visiting a ghost town in Maine, and singing while scrubbing the bathtub

Elizabeth Strout

31, Oct, 2020 @3:00 PM

Article image
On my radar: Chris Ware’s cultural highlights
The US graphic novelist on Alexander Payne’s new satire, an exciting new cartoonist and the BBC series he pays to have airmailed across the Atlantic

Chris Ware

05, Nov, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
On my radar: Gabrielle Zevin’s cultural highlights
The American writer on her film of the moment, a fantastic young novelist and an animated series that’s wonderfully human

Killian Fox

18, Feb, 2023 @3:00 PM

Article image
On my radar: John Cooper Clarke's cultural highlights
The poet on vintage TV, elegant writing about architecture and Dylan’s endearing take on the Great American Songbook

Kadish Morris

17, Oct, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
On my radar: Sarah Perry’s cultural highlights
The author on the painful recollections of Tim Winton, bonding with a town’s memory of Dylan Thomas and one of the best 30 minutes of TV she’s ever seen

28, May, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
On my radar: Jack O’Connell’s cultural highlights
The actor on a book of ancient wisdom, the effortless cool of Fat White Family, hurling, asparagus and Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake

Kathryn Bromwich

09, Jul, 2017 @9:00 AM