Juliet Gilkes Romero

Radio/tv/screenwriter, Playwright

Juliet Gilkes Romero is an award-winning writer for stage and screen. She is the recipient of the 2020 Alfred Fagon award for Best New Play with The Whip, the Roland Rees bursary 2019 and the BBC World Service Alexander Onassis research bursary. Her work mainly investigates untold history. The Whip exposes the financial legacy of the 1833 Abolition Bill and how British tax payers had been paying off the multi-billion pound bailout of slave owners up until 2015. Plays include: The Gift, a retelling of Medea filmed for Jermyn Street Theatre’s 15 Heroines of Greek tragedy season 2020, The Whip at the RSC’s Swan Theatre 2020, Day of the Living as part of RSC’s Mischief Festival 2018, Upper Cut at the Southwark Playhouse 2015, At the Gates of Gaza, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and tour, winner of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Best Play award 2009 and Bilad Al-Sudan at the Tricycle Theatre (now Kiln) as part of its 2006 season dealing with genocidal conflict in Darfur.

Screen and audio includes: Soon Gone: a Windrush chronicle co-produced by Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road and the Young Vic Theatre, and One Hot Summer broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Juliet’s earlier work at the BBC World Service saw her reporting from countries including Ethiopia, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She enjoys leading creative writing workshops and has been working with ex-prisoners and young people at risk of offending. Juliet believes in the transformative power of storytelling, loves swimming and salsa.

I am a stage/screen writer of Caribbean heritage, born in east London and raised in Suffolk. It sounds like a cliché but I always knew I wanted to be a writer. My parents (from Trinidad and Barbados) realised this too and encouraged my love of books, language, and theatre. For 2022–23 I became the writer-in-residence at the National Theatre attached to the New Work department. Even though my dad is no longer with us, I know he would be extremely proud. How did I get here? Curiosity, creative resilience, and perhaps a touch of madness.

My fascination with the power of language began at Brighton University where I studied Applied Language. Sociolinguistics was a major part of the degree and deals with how we speak differently and use language to convey aspects of identity, class, and gender. Sociolinguistics teaches us about real-life attitudes and how they impact the way we live. This led me to a career in news and current affairs. As a BBC reporter/producer I worked in countries including Ethiopia, Cuba, and Haiti. Through the latter, I was able to follow in the footsteps of novelist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston.

The gathering and relentless cycle of ‘breaking news’ sharpened my curiosity about politics, democracy, and the contentious battle between ‘truth’ and ‘alternative facts’. But somewhat exhausted by the advent of 24-hour news, I decided to take a break to pursue an MA in Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths College, London University. It felt like liberation. But in order to progress, I had to
unlearn strict newsroom editing skills and ‘re-trust’ my raw, narrative instinct. That initially was hard to do. I had to accept that a first draft could never be ‘broadcast’-perfect, and I remember feeling very nervous about sharing my efforts.

I learned the most dissecting text with actors and was speechless the first time I saw one of my play drafts read. Since then my plays have included The Gift, a retelling of Medea filmed for Jermyn Street Theatre’s 15 Heroines, The Whip (Alfred Fagon award 2020) staged at the RSC’s Swan Theatre, and At the Gates of Gaza, winner of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Best Play award 2009.

My writing career remains rewarding and challenging in equal measure. Self-doubt powered by the vagaries of rejection strike when least expected. Financial security is not guaranteed, and I have made mistakes. But I am the writer I am today because of testing experiences, and I am grateful for that.
Journalism taught me to listen, to be open to anything and everything. It’s made me passionate about the telling of the human experience and in that regard journalism and theatre are very similar.

I tell everyone, whether budding novelists or playwrights, that the enemy to creativity is self-doubt and to be creatively resilient. I think many dynamic and diverse new writers will emerge as a result of this cost-of-living crisis and past pandemic. I very much look forward to what they have to say.

More from Juliet Gilkes Romero

Juliet Gilkes Romero
Image credit: Steve Tanner

Juliet Gilkes Romero

Radio/tv/screenwriter, Playwright




  • London South Bank University, 2021–2023
  • Reading Round Fellow