‘Bottoms’ Star Ayo Edebiri Is One To Watch
Words by Florence Heaton / Edited by Mia Stapleton
2023 was a massive year for movies and TV, and a busy one for the stars, many of whom are finally embarking on press tours after the conclusion of the SAG-AFTRA strike. By far the busiest is recent Emmy winner Ayo Edebiri, an actor-comedian-producer-writer who has proven that sometimes it really is possible to be in two (and more!) places at once.
If you have watched anything over the past twelve months, chances are Ayo was somehow involved. First catapulted into the spotlight in 2022 as Sydney Adamu on comedy-drama The Bear, Edebiri has spent the following year proving that she is no one-hit wonder. This summer, Abbott Elementary (ABC’s attempt at filling the void left by Modern Family) borrowed her talent for a few episodes, as did Black Mirror in its latest installment ‘Joan is Awful.’ Ayo’s voice work on Big Mouth, which she co-produces, precedes her role as April O’Neil in the animated hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. The film was an unexpected triumph; praised for its unique animation style and fresh take on a classic comic, it maintains a 96% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A cameo as Gwen Stacey’s bandmate in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse added another famous franchise to the actress’ rapidly expanding resume. Season two of The Bear, which arrived on Disney+ in July, has already earned Edebiri her second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress– indicative of her impressive work in a role that strays slightly from her stand-up comedy roots.
More recently, Edebiri ventured into the fantastical, featuring in The Sweet East with fellow rising star Jacob Elordi (reviewed at LIFF). She also had a small role in Theater Camp as an underqualified acting coach, Janet; both instances prove that she doesn’t necessarily need to be the lead to turn in an effective or memorable performance. However, it’s undoubtedly Bottoms that contains her greatest role to date. After its success in the US, earning $500k from just 10 cinemas in its opening weekend, the film expanded and finally arrived in the UK in November. It cements Edebiri as one of the most watchable stars of the moment.
Best friends Josie (Edebiri) and PJ (Rachel Sennott, Shiva Baby) are desperate for romantic attention, and after a mishap involving the quarterback, the two “ugly, untalented gays” resort to founding a fight club in order to get close to their cheerleader crushes. Under the guise of female empowerment, they conspire to rescue popular girls Isobel (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber) from their dumb jock boyfriends. As to be expected, shenanigans ensue. Director Emma Seligman creates a highly colourful, highly satirised high-school world, following two unhinged young women and their quest to get laid before graduation. Awkward yet lovable, Ayo as Josie is the centrepiece of a movie that refuses to take itself too seriously.
One of the best moments comes early on, when Josie spirals about being single in an entirely improvised monologue that, thankfully, made the final cut, as it perfectly exemplifies Ayo’s wit and off-the-cuff talent. Her chemistry with real-life best friend/Bottoms’ co-writer Sennott is the necessary foundation for a movie full of laugh-out-loud performances from the likes of Nicholas Galitzine and Marshawn Lynch. It’s a gloriously funny, absurdly violent piece that manages to silence the ‘they don’t make movies like this anymore’ refrain that’s been in your head since you last watched a 2000s teen comedy. As one Letterboxd user aptly notes, “Bloopers during end credits are back! Nature and cinema are healing!”
But by no means is Edebiri stopping here. Much to everyone’s delight, The Bear has been renewed for Season 3, of which is now in production. If there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that Golden Globe winning Ayo is sure to shine. She has also been filming in New Mexico for Opus, A24’s next horror movie, starring John Malkovich (release TBC). International treasure Paul Mescal has also expressed interest in working with her, particularly in a rom-com (a collaboration the world does not deserve but desperately needs). This is no doubt just the beginning of a long, varied, and successful career for Ayo Edebiri, and her journey to stardom is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Words by Florence Heaton
(IMAGE: Ayo Edebiri (left) and Rachel Sennott in Bottoms, courtesy of Orion Pictures/MGM)