Njambi McGrath: Playing the long game

Njambi McGrath. Credit: Steve Ullathorne

As a fresh-faced comic, I came home utterly distraught one night at not making the finals of a comedy competition. My husband's words to me were "believe me, you don't want to make it too soon". I was angry at him, saying it didn't make sense.

He argued that if I made the final and was an overnight success and filled my calendar with promoters booking me for 20 mins slots, how would I cope with my cracking 5 min set? He said he'd known of people make it quick and fall straight down with no substance to keep them at the top. He's been involved in TV since his teens. I began to see his point. I hated him being right.

Njambi McGrath. Credit: Steve Ullathorne

As an impatient 'now' person, I found my husband's advice at the time unpalatable but, as time went on and with nothing being handed to me on a silver platter, I found myself buried in my room on my computer. And, soon, the creative juices began to flow.

I challenged myself to write one hour shows, trying all the material in my modest open mic night. Where were all the things I wrote going to go? I had no idea, but kept myself busy. I had many knocks down the line, but I kept going. My days and spare time were all spent writing. I wrote a blog, which gave me ideas for shows. I wrote the shows and did whole Edinburgh runs. I wrote a sitcom, and wrote a drama.

All that writing came to fruition. I wrote my memoir [st= 6551]Through The Leopard's Gaze[/st] and was pleasantly surprised when it was published and, not only that, it was optioned by a major TV production house.

After my critically acclaimed memoir, I embarked on writing fiction. A mammoth task. During the lockdown, I decided - like most people - to book myself onto an online creative writing course. The best money I ever spent because I emerged with three novels and when I sent the first two to my publisher, she instantly signed a two book deal, one of which is out on 5th October.

13 years later, I've performed 7 one woman shows, a successful Soho Theatre run, recorded 2 Radio 4 series, filmed 5 comedy specials available on all global platforms including Just For Laughs, Comedy Dynamics, Amazon and YouTube movies.

It's about the long game. It's better to write and have no one ask for your work than to have someone ask for your work and you have nothing.

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