Comedian and actor Annameka Andrade on mental health and the entertainment industry

Jamaican-born Annameka Andrade is a BRIT School alumni who’s acted in a number of independent films including ‘Mercenaries’ and ‘Payback Season’. She’s also a stand-up comic who performs on the London circuit, sharing her experiences of growing up as an immigrant in the UK. The third string to Annameka’s bow is helping other women in the entertainment industry with their wellbeing and mental health, and this summer she’s running a women’s retreat called Self Appreciation Journeys, deep in the Dordogne countryside. It runs from 15-22 July 2023 and further details about the self love retreat are at

What’s the Self Appreciation Journeys retreat all about?

“I wanted to create a supportive space away from ordinary life to foster self-love and compassion. I decided to make it women only, because I want to nurture and support all things female-led and build up female representation.”

“And of course, in the entertainment industry, I want to empower female voices – this is an important journey for our industry. “

“The Self-Love Summer Retreat is a safe place set in the heart of the French countryside, in the Dordogne. It’s for ladies to reset, restore and renew. Just as we clear out our closets and update our phones, we need to think seriously about restoration and relaxation in our inner world – that’s a lot more important than closets and phones, so why don’t we do more of it?” 

Why do you think businesses should look after their staff’s mental health?

“More and more studies show the benefit of self care, and every business should consider the holistic welfare of their staff, given the national and global changes we have come through with the pandemic. I am passionate about self-love from the inside out, so businesses can connect with me and I am happy to share ideas or run a wellness workshop for their staff (men too, not just ladies!). Of course acting and comedy is my first love, but this current wave of inspiration has opened up a new dialogue that I would like to see more of in the entertainment industry.”

How did the pandemic affect your career and your wellbeing?

“Pre-lockdown, I had been working on various acting projects, but post-lockdown I was taken on a journey of mental health challenges within my family unit. Being a parent became hard and the emotional effects of the lockdown left my partner in therapy and on medication, which forced me into a season of restoration to protect my own mental health. I had been busy writing and performing stand-up comedy all over London and online, as well as comedy writing with the Soho Theatre Comedy Lab. But the mental health challenges at home forced my career into the background.”   

How did you start to recover?

“As an actor and comedian, your creativity can be fuelled by a dramatic personal life, but in my case it was crippling. I had already been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and managing my condition as well as parenting and in survival mode with my relationship was rough. I needed to pause. Then I noticed that Spotlight was doing a lifestyle and wellbeing series and I realised that other performers were going through their own mental wellness issues.  I wasn’t alone! Seeing this meant a lot and helped me to refocus; I began to appreciate the need for open dialogue about mental health in the entertainment industry.  I felt such a relief – I had been a Spotlight member for years, but this was the first time I truly felt supported by that community. Their resources, which included talks and meditations, allowed a space for reflection in the harsh and unrelenting world of auditioning.”

How do you connect the acting world with mental health?

“I was glad to see Equity’s health and wellbeing support for members with its Mental Health Support scheme – this is what’s needed, openness and support with mental health. After all, as a performer you are your own greatest asset. I have become inspired to invest in my personal wellbeing, as it’s a personal responsibility to take care of your inner health. It is, however, the job of the community to support you in challenging times, whether that’s your industry or your family, and for some people that community is one and the same. “

“I want to encourage everyone to talk openly about mental health and their experiences, because you have no idea who you are encouraging with your openness.”

“We are all human, and just knowing things can get better is enough to make a difference to someone who’s in a dark place.”

Find Annamka at or on Instagram @hampsteadwellbeing.