Photography Tom Cattanach Fashion Direction Katy Lassen Words Stephanie Paulo and Katy Lassen
Also catches up with Antonia Thomas in some rare downtime from filming the hit US show The Good Doctor. We talk creative beginnings, the challenges of social media and that breakout role in Misfits.
Tell us how you got into acting, when did you first realise that was what you wanted to do?
I grew up in a family of performers. My father was an opera singer and my eldest sister Emma is an actress, and when I was growing up, she primarily worked in musical theatre. I also enjoyed singing and Emma encouraged me to join a youth theatre group when I was 14, The National Youth Music Theatre. This changed everything for me. I went on a tour to Japan with them and from then on I had the performing bug. I knew from then on that I wanted to perform in some capacity. A little later on it became less about singing and more straight acting – although I do enjoy using my voice when I get the chance.
You grew up in London, do you think it helps to live in the capital when trying to break into acting?
Yes I do. There are of course lots of wonderful regional opportunities but London does have everything at its finger tips. Most exciting acting opportunities require being in London at least to be able to audition for them.
Many people in the entertainment industry are expected to have a presence on social media these days, and you have a large following on Instagram. Do you find it comes easily to share your personal life in this way? Do you feel any pressure to present yourself in a certain way?
I am constantly struggling with social media. I am slowly realising that it is now a necessary part of my job, but there is a huge part of me that wants to reject it. I use it quite a lot to promote work, but I find sharing my personal life more difficult. I also feel that as an actor it is important to not give everything away. By the very nature of the job you are trying to do a convincing job at portraying a different person. So if the audience watching you feels like they know too much about the actor then I worry that they will be preoccupied by that and unable to lose themselves in this character you are trying to portray.
With this in mind do you think the ways in which actors get roles has changed with the opening up of peoples lives in this way?
Yes I think it does – people start casting you for who they think you are, as opposed to seeing you as a blank canvas and this is a problem in my opinion. I don’t want to play myself.
The #metoo movement has at last shined a spotlight on the incredible abuse and pressures on women in Hollywood and on those trying to forge a career in acting. What are your thoughts on this growing movement?
I think it is vital and about time. We as women need to stand together and support one another. Now that there has finally been an acknowledgement that is unable to be ignored, we need to keep working together to achieve the equality that should already be ours.
Your breakthrough role was in the C4 show Misfits. I really love the wikipedia description of your character Alisha ‘a woman who is extremely comfortable with her sexuality and body and sends people into a sexual frenzy when they touch her skin’. What was it like playing such a confident young woman, could you relate to your character?
It was terrifying. It was my first job and not a part that I thought I would be playing so soon in my career. But it was eventually liberating. Because I got to explore a three-dimensional young woman who was discovering who she was. She believed that sexuality was her only currency but came to realise that she had so much more to offer than just her body. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to play Alisha.
Is there any particular type of character that you’d love to play?
Not really, I am just striving for the opportunity to play people very different to myself. The chance to have to get to grips with different mind-sets is the most fascinating thing for me. I suppose I would like to do a period piece, that would be really fun to embody the bodily and mental restrictions that a past era has put on women.
What do you look for when reading a script?
Characters that are multidimensional, flawed, layered, complicated. A piece that is driven by character and their thoughts, feelings, ambitions, dreams.
Outside of acting, what are you passionate about?
My friends and family. The opportunity to spend time with them and grow with them. I also adore travelling, meeting new people from different walks of life. Experiencing a way of life different to my own. I think without this it is impossible to grow as a person.
You recently collaborated with the Robin French Sugarcane Band on an EP. Can you tell us more about this and is singing something you would like to do more of?
Yes Robin approached me with a musical concept and was in need of a female vocalist. I loved what he had written and created and jumped at the chance to sing with him. Singing is definitely something that I adore doing and I would love the opportunity to do more of it. Within acting especially. I would love to do a musical biopic for example.
What have you learned or how have things changed since turning 30?
Turning 30 was something that in the lead up felt really scary but when it finally arrived I felt hugely liberated. I do feel different in myself. I have a sense of certainty and clarity in who I am and what I want and where I want to be.
I am still of course working on this but it was almost strange how settled and comfortable I suddenly felt in my skin as a woman. I suddenly knew that I have a voice that I maybe feel more confident about putting it out there than when I was in my 20s. I now feel like I have something to add and as scary as that still is, it also feels like something I need to do, and plan to do and will do.