Once upon a time a little girl who suffered from bullying at school, and ended up Lost, became part of a TV phenomenon. She always kept hope of achieving her dream of becoming an actress, (which she of course did!) even while working at a neighborhood supermarket. Discover the courage and determination behind her brilliant blue eyes.
How did you spend your early days at Cambridge? How was school?
I was born and raised in Cambridge, England. I left school at 18 as I couldn't afford to go to University. I was working in a supermarket and still at school when I got into modeling. My grandmother entered me into a beauty contest in our local paper behind my back. I ended up coming second but scored a modeling agency out of it. I didn't have a good time at school, to be honest. I was bullied for most of it. I couldn't wait to finish school and get on with my life.
Did you ever dream of being a model or an actress? If so, how did your family feel about it?
I always dreamed of becoming an actress. I never wanted to be a model yet I had a feeling that somehow modeling would get me into acting although I had no idea how it would all pan out. My family were always very supportive and continue to be so. My mum, dad and big sister are really proud of me and that makes me so happy.
What made you come to the US? What memories do you have from your time in New York? What agency did you sign with?
I modeled all over the world, London, Milan, Hong Kong, Sydney, Hamburg and more. I always wanted to go to New York and worked hard to build my portfolio to get there. At the time my modeling bookers in London kept telling me I wasn't ready or that my portfolio wasn't strong enough. I listened to them for a while and then I said enough! I'm going! So I got an agent in NYC and off I went with £250 to my name. I've never looked back.
I always felt that once I got to the states I would be able to start pursuing my acting career. It's really hard to get into the acting industry in the U.K. if you haven't been to drama school or university. One of the things I love about America is that they are more willing to take a chance on someone if they have the drive and determination. It's not all about education here, it's also about talent and passion: The American Dream.
I had a wicked time living in NYC. I modeled there for almost eight years whilst simultaneously pursuing acting. My model agency, Ford, had a small acting department. I started gigging right away. That department eventually shut down and I was taken over to the main agency. I am still with them to this day.
You got to do some commercials for really big brands. Did you ever think that your career was going to involve being a model for a long time?
I never believed I would be a model forever as I always knew I would become an actress and I wasn't going to give up until I did. When I got my first big break, a series regular role on a FOX show called Justice in 2006, I was able to officially quit modeling. I was THRILLED!!! I have been solely acting since then. What's lovely is that now whenever I do a photo shoot, it's for a film or TV show or for fun. Not to mention I am treated way better as an actress on a photo shoot than when I was a model. When I was a model I sometimes felt invisible on a shoot or people would outwardly be mean. Thankfully that no longer happens to me as an actress.
After having participated in more than 10 projects (TV and movies), with important roles, you were part of the TV phenomenon LOST (we are huge fans of the show) which we think represented a stepping stone for the TV industry. Where you aware of what you were getting yourself into? How was your experience of working with J.J.Abrams? And with the rest of the cast? Did you enjoy filming in Hawaii? Any particular anecdote that you would like to share with us?
After Justice was canceled in 2006 I went back to the grind of getting my next job. Eight months and many auditions later I got the part of Charlotte Staples Lewis on LOST. I knew of the show at the time, obviously. You'd have to have been living under a rock at the time to not know what LOST was. I knew it was a big deal going into shooting the show that this was something really special. LOST changed the face of television for its time. It brought Science fiction to the masses and made it cool to geek out on a show and have viewing parties with friends to theorize about what it all meant.
I had an epic time in Hawaii with the other cast members. We all got along well and everyone made me feel welcome from my very first day. A lot of the cast were musical and some nights we would sit in the jungle between takes singing songs and playing guitar under the stars. Magical.
If you were to choose your favorite role, which one would it be?
I have really been enjoying playing The Wicked Witch of the West on ONCE UPON A TIME for the past three years. It's so much fun to play this character, who also goes by the name "Zelena". The writers on the show do an amazing job of writing flawed, multi-dimensional Villains. She's a joy to play. I love going to work on this show. Such a blessing!
If you had to choose to be another person, who would that be? And if you had to choose another profession?
If I had to be another person I would be disappointed. I'm not perfect by any means but I like being me. I'm a work in progress and I'm not done yet. As for another profession, there's nothing else I'd rather do than this. I don't believe in having a Plan B, a "back up plan" if you will. By doing that you're saying that your dreams may not come true. Those things might not work out. I always felt I had to be all in. Like the late, great, Wayne Dyer said, with a book by this title, "You'll see it, when you believe it". Not the other way around.
Everyone who knows you says that you are a blast…..any particular experience in which being that funny didn’t help? Any weird situation? What do you love the most about your job?
I love my job as I've mentioned and one of the things I enjoy is making people laugh. I've done a couple of comedies but I usually end up playing more dramatic roles. In these instances, I take to entertaining the crew instead. During a long day shooting in the snow and at night, a good sense of humor can go a long way!
You look stunning in ONCE UPON A TIME…..what´s your special magic trick?
I don't really have a magic trick for looking good on the show. It's more down to the talented hair and makeup department that transform me into the Wicked Witch. My part in it is simple, get as much sleep as possible, drink lots of water and take my vitamins!
Where will we see you next? Any projects in mind?
As for what's next, I don't yet. I am excited for what's next in my career. Stay tuned!
Interview by Elena Rodríguez
vetica Light is an easy to read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.