Lauren Douglin is currently in rehearsals for new play Clean Slate, which opens this week at The Courtyard Theatre. #TBB10 caught up with the actress to discuss the role…
1# Tell us about your background?
I grew up on the south coast of England in a small town called Bexhill-on-Sea with my three brothers and parents. My dad’s family are from the beautiful Barbados and he and my mum met in South East London all the way back in the late 70’s! I know live in the area they first met.
2# How long have you been acting and what was it or who made you want to get into the business?
I started dancing aged 2, but I was about 7 when I remember seeing West Side Story on TV and thinking ‘I’m going to play Anita one day’. I started all classes I could that year and performed in any local show I could. I knew I loved it so much that it was all I wanted to do every day so I made it my mission to make it so.
3# What was your first acting job and are you still proud of it?
My first professional job was a role in Sky 1 Drama The Five playing kidnap victim Izzy Allan. For a first job it was a real blessing. A top-notch cast including Naomi Ackie and O-T Fagbenle, director Mark Tonderai and writing team including Harlan Coben and Danny Brocklehurst, I learnt so much and got to play a truly complex character straight out of the gate. I am so thankful Orla at Priscilla John found me and gave me an incredible first step through the door.
4# Tell about us this play Clean Slate what’s it about?
Six 20 something women, friends since childhood gather together in the cabin they used to visit in summer for one last night where they decide to change their indentities. Set in real time and in the round it allows audiences to see a group of women as they really are – brave, crude, broken, creative, loving and funny. Originally performed and written in French in Quebec, Canada this is the British premiere.
5#Tell us about your character and what’s her motivation in the story?
I play Rose, a young doctor who lives freely and simply. She isn’t one for long term relationships, preferring to see sex as purely physical rather than emotional. She works hard for what she wants and for those she loves but often finds her free spirited way life under fire by her more reserved friends. Over the evening she starts to really consider what they have to say and if the way she lives her life is as fulfilling as she thinks.
6# What’s the message behind the play and what do you hope audiences get out of it?
Clean Slate was written to show that women don’t just sit and talk about men and make-up when they gather together. They discuss their goals and ambitions, debate the state of the world and explore all kinds of sex and love. Having a cast of women from around the world also shows how truly universal Clean Slate is. We want to encourage audiences to evaluate who and what is important to them and that the time for change is here and now.
7# You’ve been doing quite well working across TV and in YouTube content how have you navigated the industry as a mixed-race actress have there been any obstacles or has it been smooth sailing?
I personally don’t feel I have faced any obstacles per say as I have a great agent and a serious determination but I am aware that not only being mixed race but also tall and not having had any formal training, limits some opportunites to me currently. That is why I use every opportunity I have now as a way to connect and grow and prepare for what is to come. Change is coming as those who make the big decisions are starting to be more diverse with castings. It’s great being sat in a waiting room and not looking like anyone else, it means my ability can be the focus and I’m not just being brought in to be a tick on a list. With talented game-changing women like Ruth Negga, Michaela Cole, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leticia Wright and Georgina Campbell leading the way I know there is a place for me, its just about being prepared for when my moment arrives.
8# You also write, comedy at that, how did this come about and are you writing more; what can we expect?
I always seemed to be cast in comedy roles at school, I liked bringing happiness to people, making them laugh with impressions and zealous storytelling. My comedy writing comes from genuine encounters I have had as a mixed race girl, growing up bigger and stronger than most of the guys in school, one of the 0.01% of ethnic residents in a quiet coastal town and being perpetually single. Even though I grew up feeling drastically different to everyone around me I found that we have all had moments of madness and embarrassment and that laughing at those moments makes everyone feel better. I’m currently testing material at scratch nights in venues around London so I can bring my show, Seriously?! to fringe festivals next year.
9# After this play run ends what’s next for you?
After Clean Slate I will be filming dark comedy indie film The Degenerates, the story of four petty criminals who join together to find a missing girl, and I have a McDonalds and Barclays commercials on the way. I’m continuing to work on Seriously!? Also the final two episodes of the hilarious web series Nate and Jamie I’ve recently wrapped filming will be released.
10# If you could change your life would you and what would you change?
I am in love with my life. I left my job as a secondary school teacher because I knew I had to fulfill the promise I made to 9 year old me when I played Annie at the De La Warr Pavilion that one day I would do what I loved everyday. And now I am.
Clean Slate runs at the Courtyard Theatre from June 20 – July 9th 2017. Find out more and book tickets here.
Keep up with Lauren Douglin here.