> Skip to content
Play sample
  • Published: 6 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473568990
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Narrator: Zawe Ashton
  • RRP: $24.99

Character Breakdown

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

Brought to you by Penguin.

Cult heroine Zawe Ashton brings us a unique look at life, work and the absurdities of contemporary life

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 to Fresh Meat's Vod.

To stay sane, an actor must tread a high-wire between life and art, keep sight of where a character ends and the real person begins. So she doesn't lose herself completely.

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?

© Zawe Ashton 2019 (P) Penguin Audio 2020

  • Published: 6 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473568990
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Narrator: Zawe Ashton
  • RRP: $24.99

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/Netflix TV series Wanderlust, the Netflix feature film Velvet Buzzsaw and Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Her play for all those women who thought they were Mad will be staged for the first time this year. 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*

Related titles