Maria Gbeleyi has been chosen as the voice of Verity Gillmare in the audio version of Dorothy Koomson’s new novel, All My Lies are True (Headline). The announcement follows an open casting call, "Find My Verity", designed to bring more black female voices into the world of audiobooks.
Chosen from over 100 candidates, Gbeleyi, who suffers from sickle-cell anaemia, responded to the open casting call sent out in February 2020. The audio was recorded in June following virtual workshops where shortlisted candidates had one-to-one sessions via video call with a producer from Hachette Studios.
Hannah Cawse, audio editor at Headline, said: "Everyone involved in the audio production of All My Lies are True has been blown away by the number and quality of submissions received. It was incredibly hard to whittle down to a shortlist from over 100 samples and we couldn’t be happier with the performance that Maria has delivered."
Koomson said: "I came up with the idea of 'Find My Verity' because I wanted to create an opportunity to bring young black voices into the audiobook world. The response was so amazing and the quality of people who answered the casting call was so high. At every stage it was almost impossible to choose who to put forward because everyone was so good. Maria was a fantastic choice and I was so impressed with how she brought Verity to life. I really enjoyed speaking to her which you can hear at the end of the audiobook of All My Lies Are True."
Gbeleyi, who studied drama and theatre, also co-runs the Brown Sugar Movement, designed "to inspire, empower and celebrate black British women".
Commenting on landing the role of Verity, she said: "I’m so privileged to have been chosen by Dorothy to be the voice of Verity. Black women deserve their voices to be heard and I am grateful that I can join the chorus in a new and exciting way. Performing has always been my passion, from stage to web series to radio plays. I dabbled in it all. I studied drama, theatre and performance all the way to university, but reading has always been my escape. I never considered combining the two.
"I have sickle-cell anaemia and this health condition prevented me from pursuing my dreams in the way I had envisaged as a child. Instead of performing I channelled my energies into the platform I co-run called Brown Sugar Movement which is built to inspire, empower and celebrate black British women. My cousin, Sade Lapite, sent me the casting call for All My Lies are True but I never thought I’d actually get the role. I’m blessed and happy beyond belief that I did. This experience has marked a new chapter in my life and I’m eager to keep moving forward."
All My Lies are True publishes on Thursday (9th July).