Naomie Harris says portraying Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films as an “intelligent and capable” black woman has been “highly important” in inspiring young talent.
The actress reprises the role of the secretary to MI6 boss M in No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s final outing as the fictional spy.
Speaking to Radio Times, the 45-year-old said it is a “privilege” to play a role showing female strength.
She said: “I think it’s incredibly important. Growing up as a black woman, on-screen images and representations were so few and far between, so to play such an intelligent and capable woman who can inspire other women – and young women – is hugely important.
“It’s a role I have always wanted to play and it has meant so much to me. The film is part of British culture and that’s why it’s so influential. To play a role that shows the strength of women is a privilege.”
Harris said the strength of women on and off screen had changed the film industry since the start of the Me Too movement.
She said: “After decades of abuse of women within the film industry, there has been a complete culture shift, over an incredibly short period of time, say a matter of five years.
“Now you get producers standing up at the start of a shoot saying, ‘There will be zero tolerance of any bullying or harassment here’. It’s a completely different environment.
“I can’t credit myself with being part of it but I’m proud of coming into this profession, setting my own standards and sticking to them.”
Harris, from north London, starred as witch Tia Dalma in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films and as Winnie Mandela in 2013’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
In 2016, she appeared in coming-of-age story Moonlight, earning herself nominations at the Golden Globes, Baftas and Oscars, and was made an OBE in the 2017 New Year Honours.
– Read the full story in Radio Times, out now.