Interview with Sophie Willan

In the run up to Voice's latest coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we have dozens of interviews with performers like Sophie Willan, who we'll be reviewing up there.

Interview with Sophie Willan

Firstly, could you introduce yourself, and give a quick summary of your show?

I am Sophie Willan. I've had quite an unusual background growing up in and out of the Care System. My mother's a heroin addict and I've grown up surrounded by eccentric female Boltonians. When I was 23 I got all my records back from Social Services. In the show explore who I am today through the professional opinions that have been written about me all my life.

What is your earliest arts memory?

I remember sitting down with my Grandma when I was about eight and watching A Cream Cracker Under the Settee with Thora Hurd. I loved it! I remember thinking, "I want to be Thora Hurd when I grow up" - I was an odd child.

What first encouraged you to become a performer?

My Grandma introduced me to film and comedy as a child and encouraged my ambition to be a writer/performer. She was particularly passionate about working class and Northern voices that she felt I would be able to relate to and be inspired by. We watched a lot of Victoria Wood's comedy, films with Julia Walters in and the works of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.

Do you remember your first professional performance, and how did it go?

When I was a child, I used to write and perform comedy monologues to for all the other kids on my street. I charged twenty pence a show, so that's professional right? It was a paid!

What do you feel is the best thing about your job?

The fact that it's different all the time. Making people laugh. Getting to find the humour in things that annoy upset or challenge you.

Conversely, what is the worst?

Getting to a gig in the sticks, to perform to ten bored looking people, for no money because you've been told it's a great 'development opportunity'.

How do you decide whether or not a show has gone well?

From the audience response and how much I've enjoyed performing it.

If you could work with anybody, dead or alive, who would you choose to collaborate with?

Caroline Aherne, Wes Anderson.

What made you want to come to Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It's a great festival and a great chance to meet new people and showcase your work.

Is performing at EdFringe different from 'traditional' shows?

I've not found that it is particularly. When I did a theatre show there two years ago the audiences were really lively, fun and supportive.

If you could travel back in time and give 16 year-old you one piece of advice, what would it be?

It'll all be alright. You are not alone... and stop drinking cider at bus stops with boys who you think will bring you the moon... They can't even spell it Love!

What advice would you give to young people who want to enter the industry?

It takes years of writing weird shit, performing in bizarre places and developing who you before you find your voice as a writer... be prepared to go on that journey and have fun doing it.

Do you have social media that our readers can follow you on?

Twitter: @sophiewillan Facebook: sophiewillancomedy

Where can people catch your show during EdFringe?

I'll be performing at Pleasance Courtyard at 4.45pm


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