'Now a resident of Chelsea, Shoniwa grew up on a council estate in Brockley, raised by her mother after the death of her father when she was just 11. From an early age she seems to have been instilled with a sense of performance: attending shows at The Africa Centre, jamming with her musician uncles, working as a burlesque dancer in Lost Vagueness and dreaming of becoming an actress or joining the circus... Smith, the son of a Trinidadian poet mother and Scottish painter father, hails from Croydon but now lives in Brighton'
An earlier interview has a bit more about here upbringing: 'Shingai was born in 1980 in Brockley, Southeast London, ‘deep in Del Boy country’. Her parents had both emigrated from Zimbabwe a few years previously; her father an academic and her mother from a family steeped in music. ‘All of my mum’s brothers were musicians. My mum used to put on concerts at a club called the Africa Centre in the 1990s. So the music was always there.’ Her father died when she was 11 and around that time she was sent to Malawi to live with her grandmother – the de facto village tailor – for two years. Back in London she went through several secondary schools, trying to find one that would let her study drama. ‘Acting was my first passion. I was doing amateur dramatics from when I was 11 to about 15. I joined a theatre company called Second Wave in Southeast London and got amazing acting training.’