Interview with Danielle Winter

Actress and Bristol Old Vic alumni Danielle Winter talks to us about a new project she has worked on, and gives advice to young people who want to get into acting

Interview with Danielle Winter

When did you first decide you wanted to get into acting?

I first wanted to be an actor when I was in primary school, roughly age 9/10 when a TIE company did a workshop on A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was genuinely annoyed that we didn't speak like Shakespeare anymore, and was blown away by the poetry and the story. I thought it would be the most fun job in the world to tell such wonderful stories to an audience.

How did you pursue that interest?

I was always in plays at school, and with my friends outside of school too. I would look to join drama clubs, go and see plays when I could, although there wasn't a lot of theatre on where I grew up. I joined the national youth theatre and made some amazing friends. It's about taking every opportunity you can and making the most of it.

Could you give us a few examples of works you have been involved with, or are particularly proud of?

Apart from Hector vs The Future which is my first ever podcast performance, I'm very proud of my previous work with Pentabus, a rural theatre company who bring incredible work to communities who might not otherwise get to see or participate in professional theatre. Also their young writers programme is fantastic, and nurtures talented young writers from rural communities to write about their experiences or tell other stories they are passionate about, and it was a pleasure to bring their scripts to life.

I'm also a core member of collaborative opera and theatre company And So Forth. We have some big plans afoot for next year so do look us up @AndSoForth_

Do you do any writing yourself?

I do. I haven't written much, a monologue or short screenplay here and there. But it's a great skill to have, and creative writing can be very rewarding even if it's just for your our own personal pleasure or development.

How did you end up working on Hector Vs The Future?

I had been wanting to work with (series co-writer) James Huntrods for years having met him whilst I was at uni and seeing his work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He told me about the auditions, and luckily the Hector team cast me as Biz!

What is it like working with Hector Vs The Future creator James Hamilton? Any tales you'd like to tell?

It's been a joy! I haven't ever laughed as much as I have working with James and the whole Hector team! Nor have I ever met anyone who works has hard as James does. He's a self-confessed workaholic, much like my character Biz. James, James and Andy work so well as a team that it's pretty awe-inspiring!

Did you get any input on the script?

Yes we did. It is a very rare opportunity for an actor to play a part and also help develop that character along their journey, episode to episode. At read-throughs and rehearsals James was always asking for our input and how we felt about the character's development. Suggestions would always be listened to... not always accepted... probably for the best! The writers had a very clear vision of where they wanted to go. So it's great fun to be able to throw ideas around, and also to have such great writers on board to take things in hand if those ideas get a little too ridiculous!Biz

Can you tell us a bit about the role you play in the series?

Biz is the curator of the Uptodateum, a museum dedicated to all things 'ahead of the curve', and she runs it with the help of her assistant Phil, a half robot half hologram. Or shall we say, despite Phil's help! She's ambitious and loves her job however stressful and hectic it can be! Throughout the series Biz has a very interesting journey. Much like Hector, she feels very strongly, stubbornly some might say, that her museum is of the utmost importance and will do pretty much anything to run it properly. If something is not up-to-date, then what's the point in it!? But there are some big lessons she needs to learn.

You have a very theatre based background. Are there differences between theatre and podcast drama?

In terms of the performance itself, the main difference is that if you fluff a line, you can just pause and do it again - the audience will never know! Mwahaha...Unless they were at the live-recording, in which case it often adds to the comedy! It's a great atmosphere, it has a sort of a half theatre half sketch comedy gig vibe. So in that respect there isn't as much pressure if you make a mistake. However the preparation process is very similar to theatre. It's still very much about finding the truth of these characters and their emotional journey. Only with a podcast, you only have your voice to express that to the audience, which can be much more difficult.

What was your favourite moment while recording?

It has to be Biz's rap in episode 5. I worked so hard on it but ended up just slightly off beat in the live recording, so we had to do it again in the pick-ups at the end of the show. They left it until last, and by that time everyone was very hot and sweaty, (the theatre space was like a sauna!), and the audience were very ready for a pint and some fresh air at that point! I was feeling the pressure and messed it up almost straight away! Then, third time lucky, I nailed it, and the crowd went wild! I felt like I'd just performed at Wembley!

Conversely, what did you find difficult?

I found it difficult not to laugh all the time! Charlie Booth who plays Phil is so funny and I had to work hard to keep it together sometimes!

Do you have a measure of success in your head for the podcast?

Well, in terms of how hard the team have worked on making it happen, the quality of the writing and the wonderful cast and how much fun we had doing it, it should be the most successful podcast in the land!

It deserves to do very well, and this type of comedy appeals to so many people, so I'm sure it will do very well.

Are you very critical of your own work? How do you evaluate if a performance went well?

Artists and performers are always very critical of their work - I think you have to be in order to progress and develop. As long as you are objective and criticise constructively of course! For me personally, as long as I have done my preparation thoroughly, worked closely with the director to make sure I've taken all their guidance and notes on board, and the audience enjoy the show, that's when I'm happy with a performance. And remember to have fun in the process too of course! There will always be times when you think, 'I should have said that line like that instead!' or a joke doesn't land how you want it too, but as long as you learn from it, that's the main thing, and you'll continue to improve as a performer.

Do you personally listen to many podcasts? What are some of your favourites?

Before Hector I never listened to podcasts, and I don't know why I didn't! There are some great ones out there! Of course I'm still discovering at the moment, so I can't really say if I have a favourite yet, but I'm enjoying You Must Remember This.

Having finished recording the series now, is it something you would be interested doing more of in the future?

Definitely. Since training at Drama school I've been very interested in radio and voice work and this has been a wonderful experience so I'd love to do more podcasts in the future.

What advice would you give to young people who want to get into acting?

Read lots. Plays, books about theatre, voice, technique etc, do your research and be organised. Make a 5-year plan. Of course, it's very difficult to plan ahead in this industry, but if you have goals to achieve and a timeframe, you will work more efficiently to achieve them. Being pro-active is key.

Also, be realistic and most of all, DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF! It's very hard work and can be both financially and mentally very difficult. So remember that your health and happiness should always be your first priority!

If you are prepared to work hard and be a good team player, you'll succeed.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming work?

I'm working at Sheringham Little Theatre until the 16th August on their 2016 summer rep season. I'll be playing Phyllis in The Railway Children and Kitty in Taking Steps by one of my all time favourite writers, Alan Ayckbourn.

Where can people find you on social media?

Find me on Twitter at @DanielleCWinter!

Hector Vs The Future

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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