My first ever paid acting role on TV was for the 1997 BBC production of Ivanhoe. Okay, I was a background artist, but if you pause the video on the jousting scene you can see me watching the joust with my arms on the rail. I was picked out of the crowd to be focused on because the unit director said I had a pretty face.
I was 12 at the time, and working at weekends for English Heritage along with the rest of my family. To get the roles we had to send in pictures of us in our medieval clothes and write a little piece on why we should be chosen. During filming, I was told not to look at the camera and to move my head slowly back and forth, as if I was watching a joust. However, when they filmed me, the horses were resting, since they had been filming for at least four hours.
I was super excited, but I remember the little girl next to me was crying her eyes out when she wasn’t chosen to be featured. I felt bad for her – she clearly wanted to be a star and she had a very pushy mother with her.
The whole scene took around an hour to film, and once it was over I distinctly remember thinking acting was the easiest job on the planet. Oh, how naive I was!
We broke for lunch and I went for a wander. I wanted to see the horses. There was a giant stand that all the main actors were sitting on and near it I found a table full of food. Helping myself to cakes, I turned around and came face to face with a giant of a man with a big booming voice asking me what I was doing. I dropped down my skirt to show the stolen cakes and he laughed and waved me off. I later found out that the man was Christopher Lee.
When an acting opportunity arises, my advice is always go for it. Even being in the background can be a wonderful experience. You learn so much and, to this day, I still don’t look directly at the camera and always keep an eye out for cakes in the hope I get caught pinching them by someone famous.
Training: Peterborough Regional College (performing arts)
Theatre includes: The Winters Tale, A Christmas Carol (Lewes Little Theatre); Dancer in the Dark, Macbeth (Key Theatre, Peterborough); The Servant of Two Masters (Bournemouth Little Theatre); The Tempest (Stamford Shakespeare Company)
TV includes: Ivanhoe (BBC), Time Team (Channel 4)
Agent: Zebedee Management
Fuchsia Aurelius was talking to John Byrne