Karis Anderson auditioned for a part in the ensemble of the UK tour of Motown, but was offered the lead role instead. She tells Giverny Masso how she relates to her character, Diana Ross, through her past experiences being a member of girl band Stooshe…
How did you get into acting?
I spent most of my 20s in Stooshe. We had a great start to our career, before it began to fade out a little bit. I’d always wanted to do musical theatre, but never had any training. It was daunting and I don’t want people to think I was only in it because I was in a girl band – I had to audition like everyone else. I got an agent and said: “If you believe in me, I’ll work really hard.” I got a lot of nos, and then made my West End debut in All or Nothing – The Mod Musical. I had an ensemble role with a few solo songs, which was a nice introduction.
How did you get the role of Diana in Motown?
I was looking for my second theatre job, and was going up for a lot of roles at the time and getting rejections. Being up for an ensemble role in Motown was dreamy in itself. I did four or five auditions and they offered me an ensemble role, so I said yes. I was offered something else at the same time, which paid more, but something was pulling me towards Motown – the music I did in Stooshe was Motown pop. We were asked to come in to audition to find out what cover we would be and, after a couple of those, my agent called me and said they’d offered me the role of Diana.
How did you feel to land the part?
I still can’t believe it. It’s a dream role in a dream production. I feel like this role was made for me. I’ve only done one show before, and now I’m basically the leading lady. I’m so blessed.
How did you develop the character?
I built the character from my own experience. It’s a character I can really relate to, having been in a girl band and knowing the struggles you go through. The biggest challenge of doing this show is the pressure of making sure we do it justice. People sweep over the fact that Motown music is classic music in its own right. Just as we think of Shakespeare and rock’n’roll as classic works, so is Motown.
What’s your biggest interest outside of theatre?
I’m really into food and cooking. I run a vegan food blog called Karis With Love, which I continue doing alongside performing. I’m hoping to bring out a cookbook one day. I like the juxtaposition of being on the road while talking about how to eat properly. Working in the performing arts, it’s easy to eat out all the time, but it’s so important to eat properly. One of the main reasons I cut out dairy was because it was really messing up my voice.
First professional role: Ensemble in All or Nothing – The Mod Musical at the Ambassadors Theatre, London (2018)
Agent: Keddie Scott Associates
Motown is touring the UK until September 14, 2019