Table Manners: Zawe Ashton

Zawe Ashton on the “embarrassment” of things not working out in a new city is too relatable

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Actor and writer Zawe Ashton just explained why she felt embarrassed about things not working out in a new city on the Table Manners podcast, and a lot of listeners will relate to the conversation.

Since her breakthrough role as Vod in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat, Zawe Ashton has been the cool actor we all want to be friends with. Ashton has gone on to star in multiple West End productions and more hit TV series like Netflix’s Wanderlust, as well as write a book, Character Breakdown

Earlier this week, she joined Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie on the Table Manners podcast. She talked about growing up in Hackney, her mum’s Ugandan cooking and her love for Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

But one thread of conversation that will really strike a chord with many millennial listeners was about her decision to move back to London after living in Margate for a while.

With the housing crisis causing outrageous rent prices in London, more millennials are moving to cities and towns outside of the capital city for more affordable renting and buying a home. 

But is the grass always greener outside of London? Speaking about this issue on the podcast, Ashton revealed that she felt “embarrassed” to admit that no, it isn’t. 

Ware started the conversation, saying “I know a lot of people who have done the same. They go and they’re like ‘that’s me, I need the sea’. And then they’re like ‘hi guys, I miss the city…’”

Describing her decision to move back to London after things didn’t work out in Margate, Ashton explained: “To be honest, there’s a little bit of – what’s the word? – you do feel a bit ‘embarrassed.’”

She continued: “It’s a bit like rewinding on a huge decision. Whenever you try something and it doesn’t quite work, it’s absolutely fine. But there is the process to get back to the place where you were at before.”

But when Ware asked if living there for a while helped her in the longrun, Ashton said it made her feel “amazing”.

That’s when Lennie pointed out that moving back to London was an achievement rather than a failure, saying: “It was just stage in your life, you lived in Margate and now you’re back in London.”

Anyone who has experienced something similar to Ashton might relate to her words on how it was her “inner overachiever” who created this sense of failure.

She said: “I really have become acquainted with the overachiever that lives within me, which means that everything that you put your hand to just has to be like well-rounded, successful: ‘oh wow you did that to its absolute [..’] zenith’. 

“And actually sometimes, you’re right – it’s just for a period.”

It’s a refreshing honest conversation about the feelings many of us experience when moving away from London doesn’t work out. And Lennie’s words are a must-read for anyone who ever considers it a failure to end a chapter sooner than you planned.

Listen to Table Manners with Zawe Ashton

You can listen to the full Table Manners podcast episode here.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…