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About the book
  • Published: 4 April 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473524897
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

Character Breakdown

Sharp satirical, unconventional memoir about modern life from rising, non-conformist British star

‘Entertaining…revealing, shocking’

Actor and director Zawe Ashton brings us a unique look at life, work and the absurdities of today's world

Zawe Ashton has been acting since she was six. She has played many different roles, from ‘cute little girl’ to ‘assassin with attitude', Oscar Wilde’s Salome to St Trinian’s schoolgirl by way of Fresh Meat’s Vod.

In Character Breakdown, Zawe scrolls through a version of her life. Or is it a version of her art? Or something in between. In it, she encounters glamour, horror, absurdity and questions like: is a life spent more on performance than reality any life at all?

‘A very great book’
Lena Dunham

‘Smart, funny, vivid, honest, dark, timely’
The Times
‘A smart, funny and well-written take-down of modern showbiz’
Elizabeth Day
Selected by Bernadine Evaristo as one of the 20 Black British Womxn Writers

  • Pub date: 4 April 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473524897
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

About the Author

Zawe Ashton

Zawe Ashton is an actress, playwright and director who started acting at the age of six. Her portrayal of Vod in Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s Fresh Meat won her a cult following and the diversity of her work across television, film and stage has attracted numerous accolades. Recent credits include the BBC TV series Wanderlust (with Toni Colette) and the highly anticipated forthcoming Jake Gyllenhall film Velvet Buzzsaw. Her directorial debut Happy Toys was nominated for Best British Short at the Raindance Film Festival and she is the author of the award-winning plays Harm’s Way and For all Those Women who Thought They were Mad. She lives in London.

Praise for Character Breakdown

“A very great book”

Lena Dunham

“A smart, funny and well-written take-down of modern showbiz”

Elizabeth Day, Mail on Sunday

“Smart, funny, vivid, honest, dark, timely”

The Times

“An entertaining and original memoir touching on career, life and identity. It is an enjoyable read, despite the humiliating tales of auditions or filming situations where she is physically assessed, objectified or subject to casual racism. Understandably there is an undertone of rage in her keen observations”

Hannah Beckerman, Observer

“Character Breakdown embraces darkness while also being a wickedly absurd look at modern show business”


“A meditation on womanhood, failure and performance…her experiences and conflicts feel universal…it is very funny”

Sarah Carson

“Sees the hotshot actress/writer/director who you might remember as mentalist Vod in student sitcom, Fresh Meat, look at the absurdity of pretending to be other people for a living”

Muddy Stilettos

“An extremely imaginative and well-written volume that has the pace and page-turning attractions of a novel… a fine, painfully honest autobiographer/ novelist… [and] a good, witty read but which also gives purchasers a real insight into life in the acting profession today”

British Theatre Guide

“I loved it...smart, funny, highly original and with an unconventional narrative that asked deep questions about the roles we all play in our lives”

Elizabeth Day, Country & Town

“A fascinating look at the fine line between performance and life, written with style”

i magazine, *Summer Reads of 2019*

“Entertaining... Funny, revealing, shocking and inventively structured”

Bernadine Evaristo, Observer, *Books of the Year*

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