by Sherif Awad
Specially for www.MeetingVenus.com
-I was born in Basildon, Essex and have an older brother and 3 younger sisters. I love being from Essex! People have a preconceived notion of Essex people and ‘Essex girls’ but I am honestly so happy to be from such a colorful, vibrant, fun place. So many amazing people come from there including Helen Mirren who actually went to the same high school as me!
-When I was five, I was obsessed with the film THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY. I wanted to be Mary so bad. I found out her real name was Robin and wanted to change my name to Robin for some reason! I thought Tom Selleck was so hot I had a massive crush on him – I think it was his mustache! I started saying at the age of five: “I wanted to be an actress”, and I have never stopped saying it since. As soon as I heard of Los Angeles, I decided I was going to move there to be an actress and that is exactly what I did. I had never even been to LA when I started saying I would live there! I always loved watching films and going to the theater – especially to see musicals. I took dance classes from the age of 5 three nights a week after school, starting taking LAMDA exams and my grandpa paid for me to get singing lessons (I think it was to stop me from singing so terribly and he thought he was doing himself a favor rather than me!) I did go on to do a few solos in shows but I don’t think Broadway will hire me as a lead singer any time soon!
-I got involved in all the local productions I could – my first professional one was when I was fourteen at the Millennium Dome. I got an agent when I was eighteen as soon as I moved to London and started booking commercials and doing short films. I decided that I wanted to go to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama before I had even set foot in the building. And that is exactly what I did. I get an idea in my head and that is it…I just know I have to do it!
After I graduated from Central I took a three-month Acting for Screen course in LA and started saving to move out here.
-Obviously Tom Selleck was my first role model lol. I also love Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. DEATH BECOMES HER is still one of my favorite films and so is THE FIRST WIVES CLUB. Those films make me so happy! I love Nicole Kidman in MOULIN ROUGE and her films such as PRACTICAL MAGIC, THE HOURS, EYES WIDE SHUT etc.
I studied a lot. My background is mainly in theater and Shakespeare before I branched off to Advanced Theater Practice and devising contemporary material in a collaborative setting at Central. I love theater – there is nothing like the thrill of a live performance!
I wanted to get more into TV and film screen roles so in LA I took more acting for screen classes. I love working on both genres – I find it all so exciting and nothing makes me happier than when I am creating.
-I have so far to go still. I have had highs and lows and it is important to enjoy the ride and the process or you spend your whole life looking forward instead of being in the moment. I have been blessed to have worked with so many great people – from William Friedkin, Steven Berkoff, Frances Barber and Tim Roth to friends devising our own work together on a minimum budget. Being in massive blockbusters or having my own TV show is the goal – but I will make sure I have fun on the path there!
-About challenges related to gender as a female actress: This is a tricky question from www.MeetingVenus.com ! When I first came to LA it was very different compared to now. There was definitely misogynistic tendencies and prejudices back then. Far more so than today – and not just to do with gender – I am talking about socio economic prejudice, prejudice to do with race, class, background etc. I think we have come so far but we still have so far to go.
-I think a lot more people are creating their own work now. It has become far more accessible due to iphone, the internet, the readability of equipment etc. There is so much new content coming out and every streaming platform is creating their own content so there are far more opportunities for work.
-I always check with my managers and agents if they think the project is good for me and right at that time. I trust them completely and make sure we are all on the same page. I have a funny way of having to learn every single line inside out before I can play around with the material. It is an almost school like method of learning and I sleep with the lines under my pillow as my mum once told me if I slept with my school work under my bed during the night it would go into my head and I would know it all in the morning! I think she was right!
I like to play around with the material and find different things within it. I also bounce ideas off my friends and coaches and even if we choose a different direction eventually just the fact I have explored it and know the material so well brings so many more colors to it than if I just approached it as this is the only way it can be done.
-I used to think you had to be about career and focus on that but in the past few years I realized making sure you are happy and fulfilled in your private life actually helps your professional life! I try to socialize with not just “actor friends” so I am not always talking or thinking about the industry. It is nice to switch off and have a normal conversation with people. Working out and eating healthy are important to me so these are the things I like to find a balance within – they help my personal and my private life so I do tend to devote a lot of time to them. My fiancé isn’t in the acting industry so that is very helpful! He has no idea what I am talking about most of the time but he is very good and reading in lines for me and helping me rehearse.
-I have recently auditioned for some amazing projects that I am really excited about. Whether you book the role or not, you are one step closer to getting the next big one! You have to be in it to win it and I am definitely in it right now! I am working on a play at the moment which is based in Essex. I was also filming for a commercial last week so you should be seeing that out soon!
Katie Amess is starring in 5TH OF JULY available on Amazon.com