Jamaica has a special significance in the ‘lives’ of fictional secret agent James Bond and his creator, Ian Fleming. Fleming used this location to pen several works starring the British secret agent 007.
The books Dr No, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun and the short story Octopussy are partly set in Jamaica. In 1962, the first Bond film, Dr No, started, with Sean Connery as the dashing secret agent. A decade later, the island took center stage as the fictional island of San Monique in Live and Let Die. This film featured the debut of Roger Moore.
First Black Female 007 Has Jamaican Heritage
In 2020, the 25th instalment of the James Bond series, No Time to Die, returned to Jamaica. Lashana Lynch, a British actress of Jamaican ancestry, became the first black female 007 in history. No Time to Die seemingly brought the James Bond series full circle to the place and with the people where it all started.
Lynch is the youngest of three siblings born in West London to Jamaican parents. Her mum was a senior housing officer, and her dad was a social worker. Lashana told Vogue UK that growing up, she “only felt British outside the house”. The rest of the time, it was “Jamaican language, food and discipline, which is direct but calm”. While in school, she enjoyed sport and was quite feisty on the netball court. Lashana attributes her direct attitude to life to her no-nonsense mother and grandmother.
While in primary school, Lashana discovered her passion for acting. There she participated in all of her school’s productions before enrolling in the Arts Educational Schools. She made her feature film debut in 2012 with Fast Girls, a British feel-good film about a female sprint relay team preparing for the World Championships. She later auditioned for Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming before being cast in Captain Marvel as Maria Rambeau.
In an interview with Harpers Bazaar UK, Lynch revealed her initial reservations when the Bond opportunity came about. Her reservation related to getting lost ‘behind the man.” However, she would later understand that the script would infuse her character as ‘Nomi’ with a fresh, believable female perspective. Nomi is cast as a sophisticated and fiercely capable secret agent who inherits the “007” designation while Bond is in self-imposed exile in Jamaica.
Lashana’s Bond Goes Very Deep
Filming the Bond film in her parents’ native country provided her with “A deeper understanding,” she says, “of what I’ve chosen to do, of the people I do it for. Understanding the privileges as a British-born Jamaican that my parents and grandparents gave to me because they came to England. In a way, it serves as a “thank you” to them for making the sacrifice.”
Given her history, Lynch’s tribute to her Jamaican heritage during the No Time to Die premiere on September 28th may have come as no surprise. She was a standout on the red carpet in a customised Vivienne Westwood yellow gown. On the back of the gown was a Doctor Bird, a type of hummingbird designated as ‘Jamaica’s National Bird. As Lynch’s stylist Karla Welch described on Instagram, the homage took on another significance: “Representing her ancestry and the origin of Bond with the Jamaican national bird.”