Saturday, 9 February 2013

Miss L: "I'm Still In My Pyjamas."

I hate the interviews with actors that you find in Sunday supplements. They represent the lives of maybe 0.3% of performers out there. So, here's my version of what would happen if they interviewed one of us real actors...

We've been waiting in the lobby of a central London hotel for the last hour but it appears Miss L won't be meeting us there. “I’m still in my pyjamas, I’m afraid” she tells us down the phone. We suggest going to her instead. “Bring crisps,” she demands, hanging up the phone with the sound of the Countdown clock chiming in the background.

An hour later we’re at Miss L’s flat; countless pizza menus litter the doormat and a broken hat stand blocks our entrance. She’s still in her vintage C&A pyjamas ("I love vintage finds," she later explains, "I found these ones underneath the sink. I think the previous tennant left them there.") and she clearly hasn’t showered yet. She has a slice of toast in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. “I’d offer you some too,” she says, through a mouthful of Asda Value peanut butter, “but I don’t get paid for another week.” She invites us into her living room where damp crawls across the walls and in the corner, a sad pile of 3 DVDs in blank cases. She notices us looking at it, “I see you've spotted my acting career. That's it. Right there."

We want to know why Miss L got into acting. “Hang on,” she says, “I just need to check if there’s any work for me to apply for.” We wait while she types up a cover letter for a corporate job in Hitchin. It pays £200 which she says would help her out for the next couple of weeks. Job applied for, she’s back with us. “I got into acting because I really wanted to work for free. I get such a buzz out of ‘expenses only’ work.” She gazes at her StarNow profile wistfully, “It’s exciting not knowing which sandwiches you’re going to get.”

So how does she feel about being branded the next big thing by her mum? As an actress with the likes of her old landlord and three different temp agencies on speed-dial, does the pressure get too much sometime? “It’s really hard when you have to sit at home all day drinking tea and watching rolling news. Being able to go to the cinema at lunchtime is particularly difficult.”

After training at a drama school you probably haven’t heard of, Miss L was quickly snapped up by her local call centre. She appeared in several plays that toured schools in the south-east where she played alongside performers who were yet to leave school. "I learnt so much," she explains, while trying out different fonts on her CV, "It was a real gift being able to work with performers who were also studying for their Maths A-Level. Plus I got to eat schools dinners again. That more than made up for not being paid properly." However, it was in adverts that didn’t air that Miss L truly found her niche. “It’s such an honour to be asked to be in commercials that no one sees. That's when I really knew that I'd made the right decision.” With several student films under her belt and the most poorly attended Edinburgh play to date, it’s no wonder that Miss L spends most of her time working in a call centre for little above National Minimum Wage. “I’ve really landed on my feet there,” she says, while quickly checking an email alert for an unpaid job in Penge, “I get to make cold calls to people every day. That’s not something everyone can claim.”

Despite how old she looks, we're surprised to hear that Miss L is actually still in her late twenties. We ask how she's managed to fit in so many unpaid theatre jobs into so few years. "I've been exceedingly lucky. A string of unsupportive agents has really helped me get where I am today. If it weren't for their real lack of interest in my career then, well, who knows what I'd be doing now." Her phone rings constantly while we're there. "I do a lot of online competitions," she explains, "so my phone number has been sold on quite a bit."

With a career peppered with so many highlights, surely it’s hard to choose one favourite moment? “I have so many but auditioning for a feature film that had a vague chance of being exclusively shown in Israel was when I knew I’d truly made it.” She gets up to turn the heating off when she realises it’s been on for longer than half an hour, “Or maybe it was when a student asked me to audition for their film. I hadn’t even applied for it. That was pretty exciting. “

And what of Miss L’s plans for the future. “Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not currently working on anything at the moment.” We ask if she’s due to appear in EastEnders any time soon. And with that, the interview was over.


  1. “It’s exciting not knowing which sandwiches you’re going to get.”

    I laughed so hard at this bit.

    So true it hurts. ;)

  2. "I get such a buzz out of ‘expenses only’ work" - oh the hilarity!