by Sherif Awad
-My life changed dramatically when I was eleven. Up until that point, I had mainly lived a life of being told, quite frequently, to stand outside the headmaster’s office for talking. Exasperated, my mum complained to someone at her work that she couldn’t shut me up, and he suggested that she takes me to the local amateur theatre group. I entered the black box studio at Hall Green Little Theatre and saw the lights, saw the discipline and faith in the directors’ eyes - Roy Palmer and Jean Wilde, and so I got stuck right in with an improvisation game where I pretended I was having a baby. I was hooked. And I was home. I owe everything to my mum in that respect and the dedication and hard work of Roy and Jean. My mum did endless journeys backwards and forwards down the Stratford Road to all the rehearsals. She has supported me ever since. Within those few seconds of her speaking to her colleague, the stars aligned and the rest of my life was mapped out.
-My dad is a mickey-taker (to put it mildly). He made sure I was brought up on a diet of Bottom...! (ahem);THE YOUNG ONES, BLACK ADDER and ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES; I then found national treasures Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders; Lapped up ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS and VICAR OF DIBLEY; I gorged on ACORN ANTIQUES and anything with Victoria Wood and Julie Walters in. That’s one of the reasons why I ended up going to Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre, as both of my idols Julie Walters and Steve Coogan went there.
In stark contrast, my nan would make me watch PULP FICTION, TERMINATOR and RESERVOIR DOGS. (She would fast-forward any gory bits). I then started exploring film further and was blown away by Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and so many others.
At college, we were taken regularly to see new writing at The Studio at Birmingham Rep, and we were given a copy of the script. I still have them all. I spent hours reading over them. Delivering the lines. Inspired by the variety and colour of what I had witnessed.
- Apart from meeting the love of my life and having two wonderful children, studying and learning has helped shape me to be who I am today. I love it! I’m still constantly learning and creating. Creating is playing. Essentially I’m just a big kid that wants to live in different fantasy lands as different characters and experience all kinds of different emotions and situations. It makes me feel alive! I believe that life is about creating significant moments that we will remember forever, and I am extremely lucky that I have had so many due to my job. It certainly is about the journey.
I met my friends for life at college and drama school. I loved the experimenting aspect. The discipline of it all and learning from other great talent but also there were a load of laughs. a lot of laughs!
-When I look back on everything that I have achieved so far, I am extremely proud. But also every credit on my CV sparks so many amazing memories that will stay with me forever. I am so excited for the future. There’s a lot more in me yet!
Just recently I attended a Reclaim The Fame event – the company behind it are striving to bring light to the fact that female writers and directors are underrepresented. When you see the statistics it’s alarmingly obvious that much much more needs to be done. It’s shocking that it is still the case and glaringly obvious in terms of pay-packets.
I LOVE Killing Eve. I was overjoyed to see something that was female weighted. Three awesome main characters and they all kick ass! It is so important for aspiring creatives to see a variety of people from all genders and cultural backgrounds in a variety of roles and situations, so they too can believe it is possible for themselves and be pioneers of the future.
-More than ever, as people sit at home during this COVID-19 crisis, as they binge-watch box sets, watch the National Theatre live, endless films, and television programmes, our industry needs all the support and love it can get.
I am part of so many social media networking groups for the arts and there is so much creativity and talent. We all want to work, we just need the finances to make it possible so it can continue to thrive. I adore British film, television and theatre but funding isn’t equally spread across the whole of the UK and certain cities suffer because of this.
|Claire Jones in Chorus of Disapproval|
-The last time I did a play where I had a hell of a lot of lines, I got up at 5 AM every morning for weeks and went through the whole play. I have to feel confident that I know my lines inside out back to front. When I have the lines onboard, I’m able to play around with the character. I’ve always found it really helpful to wear different shoes for a character and will always practice in the shoes. Filming is different in that sense as you mostly only have a few takes, so I just make sure I’ve done my whole back-story beforehand and practice practice practice!
-I try to be really present when I’m with my family. When I’m with them I try to give them my full attention and be at the moment. This doesn’t always happen as it’s so easy to start thinking about the to-do list but I’m conscious that I’ll blink and miss important moments. This means that I end up working a lot when my kids have gone to bed. Childcare has been a blessing but it has always been important to us to strike a balance between work and home life.
-I’ve just finished co-writing a pilot sitcom with my close friend - actress Donnaleigh Bailey. We met at college and our sitcom Get Happy, is for struggling, juggling mums out there and set in our home town of Birmingham.
I’m also looking forward to being in my first Bollywood film when filming is able to restart.
I’m lucky that I’ve been in a few exciting projects recently and all are due to be aired anytime now but I’m not actually able to talk about them!
Represented by Icon Actors Management