An Interview with Gabrielle Amies – By David Stephenson

 Firstly, why not tell our readers a little about yourself?

I am half English, half Australian with Spanish origins from over 100 years ago. I lived in England, Australia, Holland and most recently Dubai (for 12 years) where I worked as PR Director for the 5-star Crowne Plaza Hotel. I also set up my own businesses which included Publishing Magazines (inc. Dubai Tourist Guides); an Indian Restaurant and a Beauty Salon. I moved back to London 2 years ago.

What got you into acting – why did you choose this career above others?

I wanted to be an actress as long as I can remember but got caught up in the pursuit of making money and the business world. After I sold my businesses I decided it was time I did something that was just for me and not about making money. I was only interested in Film acting and I found it hard to find training that only focused on that. I met an actress at a party and she told me about Redroofs Film & TV School and their Post Graduate Diploma in Screen Acting. It was the school Kate Winslet originally trained at. I auditioned in Windsor and spent the rest of the year at Bray Film Studios training. The course finished in March last year and I have never looked back. Acting is far more challenging than any business I have owned and run!

You have recently been cast in the Channel 4 production ‘The Miracle Year.’ Could you tell us about that?

It is a show where they take about 10 actresses and coach them using NLP (Neruo Linguistic Programming) and follows their sessions with a NLP coach Tyson Joseph and then their progress afterwards. It is really amazing and Tyson has really helped me with auditions. You re-train your brain to focus on positive experiences rather than negative and this certainly helps with overcoming nerves and being truly in the moment and operating at full potential when acting and auditioning. Since I started with NLP I have had amazing success.

As well as this, you played the lead in 3 Minute Moments and Black Mountain – could you tell us about these films and the roles you play in them?

The Feature Film ‘Black Mountain’ is a psychological thriller set in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain region in South Wales, hence the name Black Mountain. I play the lead role of ‘Jan’ who is a released Psychiatric patient who is on the run with her boyfriend ‘Dan’. I have never really been mountain climbing and as most of the film is shot on location I have certainly done my fair share! I got the role just one month after our Graduation Screening in Soho, London. It is a great cast and crew and was a really nice way to break into the industry.

In the Feature Film ‘3-Minute Moments’ I play one of the female leads ‘Leila’. Leila is a Nuclear Physicist caught up in the quirky world of speed dating. It is a speed dating romantic-comedy and was a totally different role for me than ‘Jan’ in ‘Black Mountain’. ‘Leila’ is very ‘proper’ and shy and speaks with a strong Middle Eastern accent.

Since then I have played the lead in the Feature Film ‘Black November’ a revenge drama; supporting lead in the Feature Film ‘Aborted Matrimony’ and am cast as Female Lead in the Feature Film ‘Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit’ and the Feature Film ‘Spotty’.

I also did a student film called ‘Urban Bunker’ but I would never do that again as they never sent me a copy of the film and ignored all my emails!

What kind of roles do you prefer to play, and what do you find draws you to these roles?

I am pretty much up for anything, as long as the script is good and it doesn’t require nudity.

How do you structure your roles? Is there a particular method you use in presenting your characters?

I read the script many, many times and then get in my infrared sauna (this is where I learn lines) and say the lines out loud in different ways and see which way sits best. I play the character as if I am that person so I really feel what they are saying etc. I love realism in acting so I say lines exactly how I would say them, and feel them in real life.

 How do you prepare for the role? How do you research and build a character and what kind of research do you do?

I get into the mindset of that person as I believe we are a composition of many personalities. We all can feel vulnerable, strong, weak, depressed, insecure, manic, in love, joyous etc. so I try to tap into and play that side of me which best suits the character and really live that feeling. If I am playing someone like the ‘proper’ and quite shy nuclear physicist ‘Leila’ in 3-Minute Moments I will tend to act like that both on and off the set, as in a way I have become her and her me. I also answer the ‘48 Character Questions’ for each part which I got from Hollywood Acting Coach Bernard Hiller, which gives you a real background and substance to every character. For the Feature Film ‘Spotty’ I am playing Rita Comer the wife of Jack Spot and she is Irish from Dublin. So obviously some voice coaching will need to be done for that and some research on East London crime gangster Jack Spot.

In 3 Minute Moments, you played alongside the actor Giles Alderson (interviewed here last month) – what was he like to work with? Any stories to tell?

As I said I was playing a quite introverted, shy role in 3-Minute Moments so to be honest I didn’t really mix much with the other cast. However, Giles was one of the few people I did actually spend time with and he is an amazing guy, very friendly and a really talented actor. I think everyone was quite shocked to see the change in me when I turned up to the ‘wrap’ party as I was then just my usual talkative and extrovert self.

Have there been any instances where you wish you could have portrayed a character differently? Anything you wish you could go back and change?

When you watch yourself on screen you are always highly critical, well at least I am. There are many ways to play a part and once you’ve got over the ‘cringe’ factor of seeing yourself on screen it is great to say ‘that was good’ and ‘I could of done that differently’. That what was so good about working on ‘Black Mountain’ as the Director Andy Sparrow would let me watch crucial scene takes on the monitor and then let me do it again if I wasn’t happy with it. I learnt a lot by being able to do that. Some actors never want to watch themselves on screen but I am always asking for it as I really think it helps me as an actor.

Having just finished 3 films under 3 different directors, how did you find their approaches differed? Did you have any trouble working with any of them? Do you use a different approach for each director?

Some Directors are really open, casual and friendly and others are really business like and only speak with you when you are rehearsing the scene for the cameras at filming stage. I obviously prefer the more casual approach but then the more business like ones seem to get things moving faster and I also like that as well. I probably joke around less with the serious directors and appear a bit more serious and professional but I always like to have fun when I act and try and lighten the mood a little if it is all getting too serious. Everyone is far more creative when they are relaxed and then it is lots of fun. The main thing I like is feedback. I hate being told ‘that was fine’. Tell me it was rubbish if it was rubbish and really good if it was really good… but fine? Who wants to be known as a FINE actor!?

Do you feel that the high level of competition results in actors taking roles that are below their capabilities? Have you ever been in that situation yourself?

The competition is enormous and basically in the beginning you take what you can get. Now I am much more picky and if the script is rubbish then I say ‘no thanks’.

Is there any advice you’d give to the latest crop of hopeful actors out there? Any wisdom you’d like to pass on?

Work out where you want to go and focus just on that. Too many actors use what I call ‘the machine gun’ approach and end up all over the place… working… but never really getting anywhere.

 What would you say has been the defining moment of your career so far?

The biggest change in my career to date has been the change in me since doing NLP Training. I now walk into auditions confident and I have fun doing them. Before I was nervous as hell and it was a bit ‘hit and miss’… some days I’d be amazing and I would be virtually dancing out of the audition on the biggest high and others I’d beat myself up for days cause I was so rubbish. Now I breeze through auditions and my success rate has gone up tenfold.

Where do you see your career headed? What are your ambitions, and where would you like to see yourself in 10 or 20 years?

I have huge, huge ambitions and I am extremely driven and incredibly focused. I am only interested in Feature Films. However, if a great part came up in TV I’d look at that also if I thought it would elevate my profile in film. I place no limits on my career and all my energy and sights are headed in one direction… upwards.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap things up?

I currently working with Hollywood Actor/Director Larry Holden (Batman Begins) on his latest Feature Film ‘All Sun and Little White Flowers’ filming in Gozo, Malta 2007.

I have just signed as Executive Producer and Co-Producer of Sepia Films next Feature Film ‘Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit’.

Sepia Films’ Director/Writer Mark Jeavons last Feature Film ‘The Boy with a Thorn in his Side’ did really well, made it to the Cannes Film Festival and has got some amazing reviews…so we have big expectations for ‘Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit’.

I play the lead female Pete’s wife ‘Tracy Blagmore’. It is an amazing script, very funny and also quite moving in parts with some quite big name cast. We’re filming in Birmingham August/September so I am very excited about that. I am sure the film will do very well..so keep an I eye out for ‘Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit’.

If anyone wishes to contact me please email me at: contact@gabrielleamies.com

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You can also find out more about the talented Gabrielle Amies by viewing her online CV at: http://www.thespotlight.co.uk/interactive/cv/8613-1205-7400