AS acting roles go, transforming yourself into a top-class Olympic athlete is a pretty tough task. But for laid-back Lenora Crichlow, getting fit was one hurdle she was determined to overcome. New Brit flick Fast Girls sees the sexy star play one of four females in a 4 x 100 metres relay team, training for the race of their lives.
However, the young actresses had no idea of the pain and sacrifice – as well as 600 daily sit-ups – that go into being an athlete. “It was a massive challenge, the biggest of my career,” says 27-year-old Londoner Lenora. “At first it was really embarrassing. I couldn’t do press-ups or sit-ups – although I had no doubt in my mind I could learn.
“I mean, I was familiar with the art form of running!” she laughs. “I’d watched many people do it. I jog, occasionally, in my downtime, but nothing like an athletic sort of pace or style. “It was like learning to walk again, running like an athlete. “The whole way you hold yourself, engaging muscles which I basically didn’t have. So it was like starting all over again.”
Inspired by the upcoming London Olympics, the film centres on the intense rivalry of the five girls competing for four places on the Great Britain World Championships relay team.
Film buffs say it is the first major UK feature film to have a mixed-race female in the lead role – a moment Lenora has dedicated to her late father, Frank.
After arriving in London from Trinidad in 1953, he became one of the most influential figures in the capital’s recent history, instrumental in setting up the Notting Hill Carnival and a campaigner for housing, civil rights and social justice. Sadly, Lenora lost her father to prostate cancer in 2010.
“On the day of his funeral, roads were closed and parking was suspended,” she says. “There must have been 1,500 people in the streets. He was so loved and important. And now they all look out for me.
“When I hear something like this is the first British film with a black female lead I’m like: ‘Where’s everyone been?’”
We’re sure he would have been incredibly proud.
Fast Girls opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday 15th June 2012.
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