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Death of a Salesman and The Wire actor Wendell Pierce jams with Haggerston School jazz band

PUBLISHED: 13:02 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:17 17 December 2019

Actor Wendell Pierce on the drums during a visit to Haggerston School.

Actor Wendell Pierce on the drums during a visit to Haggerston School.

Archant

Hollywood and West End star Wendell Pierce showed off his jazz drumming skills during a visit to Haggerston School this week.

The actor, best known for his role as Bunk Moreland in The Wire, is currently starring as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman at the Piccadilly Theatre.

And after meeting drama students from the Weymouth Terrace school backstage at a show, he kept his promise of dropping by for a visit.

The New Orleans native, who also starred in Selma, Suits and Treme, was greeted by the school's jazz band on Monday before talking to students about his life and taking questions.

He later got behind the drum kit himself for a jam with the gobsmacked students, who were so inspired by his performance in the classic play they created their own drama piece.

He said: "I met a group of them backstage and I was blown away. I had to come and see the whole school.

"I'm glad I didn't embarrass myself and shed a tear but I was truly moved by what these young people said.

"My mother was a teacher and she told me the greatest gift, the greatest blessing was to have a positive influence over the life of a young person.

"I came to London for the first time when I was 14 and watched a play by the Royal Shakespeare Company. That experience had a profound impact on me. I wanted to pay back that debt today."

He added: "Meeting these students was a more significant experience than winning any award or any plaudits as an actor. We made a personal connection that we will all take with us throughout the rest of our lives."

Drama student Akim Bangura, 18, from Hackney, said: "When we met him I was a bit star struck. You think, this guy is a massive Hollywood actor.

"But after a few minutes you feel completely at ease with him because he is so down to earth.

"He really inspired us and when we meet him again here today we wanted to tell him how much that visit meant to us. It was a nice moment."

Headteacher Ciara Emmerson said: "It was truly inspiring to see him make such a heartfelt and genuine connection with our students. He was able to reach our students in a way rarely seen before by an outside visitor."


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