Film & TV

<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">In his Leicester Square hotel room, Lewis Gribben joins me with the light bustling of London in the background. Responding he’s well, having traveled from Glasgow, Scotland, I ask him about the journey and the madness that is London, “I’ve been down to London a bunch of times for in-person auditions, and I always remember how mad it is here. I remember being told of professional pickpocketers and thinking, is that an actual thing?” I chuckle, telling him they really do exist, having had my own experiences. Having grown up in a small town outside Glasgow, I ask the furthest he’s travelled in the UK in relation to his auditions and roles, “a job in Buckinghamshire or Cardiff,” as he takes a moment to clearly remember. On the topic of film locations, I quickly ask where he’d love to travel if he has the opportunity, “Canada for sure,” he exclaims after little thought. “I feel like you always see films there, and it looks just beautiful. I love winter, so I feel a film or TV show in Canada would fit that well. I could see it as a great place for a thriller film.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Known for his roles in Trainspotting T2 and Shetland, Lewis has become somewhat of a household name over the past 2 years, taking on role upon role acting, something he continues to praise as his happy place. Growing up in Scotland, I’m curious about his upbringing and its role in his love of acting. “My childhood was good. I grew up in a small town outside Glasgow and went to primary school around the local area.” He tells me he was quite an imaginative child, always flying around on brooms, talking to himself, and casting spells. “I guess I felt isolated at the time, so acting became a bit like a mental strength. I would have imaginary conversations with myself”. Seeing his love for his imagination, he tells me his parents gifted him tickets for a drama class at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, “At around 14, I decided I’m gonna chase the dream, so I’ve been acting ever since.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">It seems to me, as he tells me more about his childhood and being diagnosed at the age of five with Autism and Dysgraphia (a type of dyslexia) that acting became something of an escape, even a deep-rooted need for enjoyment and respite. “When I went to secondary school, I was offered extra help. The school I went to, I didn’t live close to it. There was a bus that would pick up the kids with disabilities. I think that alongside the fact that I couldn’t write made it difficult.” Pausing briefly, he continues, “I think I’m fairly intelligent when it comes to speaking, vocalising, and visualisation, but dysgraphia, made it difficult.” I asked whether living further from school than his friends made him feel disconnected? “I think the downside is you can’t form friendships by going out with your mates after school. It was quite isolating. I think that’s why I fell so much in love with drama because it was my only class where it was mostly practical. It was escapism from being the reality of the weird kid with autism.” His dark humor then appears. “If it wasn’t for that, I would have wanted to jump off a cliff or something, but in all seriousness it allowed me to feel more comfortable. And from that, I found my tribe of people that also liked to imagine and create just like me. Acting has been a constant in my life. And even if it wasn’t my career path or it didn’t work, I will always find ways to still do it.”</p>

Lewis Gribben

Lewis Gribben: Acting was an escapism from being in the reality of the weird kid with autism.

<p class="font_8">Sat against a tree in Victoria Park, George webster lets me in on the memories of the moments that contributed in one shape or another to the path he walks today.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">“I was always obsessed with action figures when I was a kid. I had every WWE action figure you could think of, every Star Wars and Lord of the Rings figure. Playing with them as a kid, it got to the point where there were multiple storylines, across multiple things going on in all of these different worlds.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">I ask whether those worlds as a young boy gave him the direction he was looking for as a child. “I’d say my imagination was integral to me growing up, it made me want to be a director. That was suggested to me when I was about eight as I set up my little scenes. To me, it sounded great. From that age onwards, I decided that’s what I was going to do”. He jokingly tells me how math’s got left at the wayside as I wonder whether acting was part of the package in discovering his passion for film. “I started to follow other routes for quite a long time until I discovered I was denying that I was an actor. When I look back at playing with the action figures, I had 50 different accents going up in my head, so I guess it was kind of obvious. I was internalizing what I actually felt.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">I resonate, having spent what feels like the entirety of my early teenage years on The Sims with various storylines. Two years after making his debut in television, many will recall George stepping into the role of William of Orange for the critically acclaimed Versailles. As a massive lover of period drama, I remember being fascinated by the series, wishing that I could step into costume. George is quick to mark the series as one of his first legitimate gigs, as I curiously &nbsp;ask about the set locations and what it was like stepping into such a large and highly anticipated production.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">“It was a strange one because I was playing William of Orange, who was only in series One at the time, so I thought that was it. And at that time, I could accept that it was the right scale for the role size I should be doing. I mean I got to go to France and film. When you get there, you get to see the scale of it. It was my first time in the studio, so seeing behind the scenes of films and TV shows was something special. It was a bit overwhelming in that sense. When I returned for season Two, it was all on location. I didn’t film anything in the studio. They were in these old monasteries. I believe they even allowed the series to film at Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors, which was one of the only productions allowed to then. Being intertwined within the history of a place was such an honor.” And as for the costumes, I fawned over, “they were incredible. Still, in all honesty, all the women who had to wear corsets, were barely breathing on set” ok, so maybe I’d try them on briefly I declare to George.</p>
<p class="font_8">Having spoken about what must have been breathtaking locations on the set of Versailles I’m interested in what George prefers: either being on stage or in the studio.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">“That’s a good question. I think both have their place. I wouldn’t say I like the cold. I am the worst when it comes it. So when you’re on location, you’ll probably be cold. But saying that, you’re also completely immersed when on location. When I’m on location, especially in period productions, I always try and find a snapshot with my eyes of somewhere where there’s nothing modern, everything completely natural. When I do that, and I’m in period gear, my brain is tricked into thinking I’m in that time, like a time machine, so being on location can be more magical.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">Since Versailles, George has made quite the name for himself, known for the diversity of his roles. “I think if I can keep every day as fresh as possible, I’m happy,” He explained, “As much as I love routine, and I need routine, I also crave the shattering of it. So juggling many things simultaneously when you pick up another role within a year can be quite chaotic. But honestly, I get off on the chaos of it all.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">With Wedding Season premiering within days of our interview, and the excitement surrounding his role in Masters of The Air, I can imagine he’s enjoyed the chaos of playing multiple roles in a short time. As for Masters of The Air, those who haven’t heard the impatient and excited rumblings of a whole industry getting ready for what can only be described as a stunning adaptation filled to the brim with adrenaline and leading actors. It’s going to be quite something, I exclaim to George, who plays Lt. Glenn W. Dye.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“It’s just amazing; no job I’ve ever been on has had the gravitas. We are trying to tell these well-researched stories, so every actor on it was so engrossed in trying to do it justice. When I say how brilliant the cast is, I speak for everyone on set. I find myself just watching them completely engrossed. I never went to drama school or anything like that, so I get better at what I do when I see good people doing it. Watching Austin Butler, Callum Turner, and Barry Keoghan, who are just at the top of their game, and being able to play alongside them is a mad job. This time last year, I managed to get in touch with the pilot who I play co-pilot to, who’s still alive; he must be 98 or something. I found the town and desperately tried to find a way to speak with him. He was incredibly generous with his time and information. It was a complete joy. It was one of those moments that slapped me in the face. A total dream.”</p>

Geroge Webster

George Webster: "For me, it’s (grounding) about understanding that there are so many unexplored things, even in the physical world. That curiosity is needed, I think that needs to be drawn out of us more."

<p class="font_8">Joining me over Zoom is, multi-award winner , comedian, podcast presenter, and general all-rounder Dane Baptiste, to speak about his smash hit comedic show The Chocolate Chip and his experiences with mental health. As we fall into conversation, Dane talks to me about how his frustrations surrounding the state of our world has helped form not only his hit tour at London’s Soho Theatre but also BAMOUS, his unashamed and provocative hit show centred on NASBLAQ, a mythical stock index for black and famous talent.</p>
<p class="font_8">With the UK having just started to make moves post COVID we chat not only about the excitement of being able to get back to some form of normality but also about the worries and concerns we amongst others have. “As a kid, I was a real overthinker I would of been going mental about the current situation we find ourselves in.”</p>
<p class="font_8">Similar to me, Dane’s concerns following what we learned from the pandemic and our way of life, flow into our conversation “I hope from the pandemic, that people hope or realise that you don’t have to live to work and you can survive if you can stay at home or work from home at a different pace. We live in a world where when people get their paycheck every month, the larger part of it goes towards rent, accommodation, and travel to a place of work, leaving so many to struggle. People need to readjust themselves and that’s one of the things that is supposed to come from this time of horror. Hopefully, we can turn to some sense of normalcy, because people lack routine and stability, especially with what people are used to having in this part of the world. My biggest concern as a very careful optimist is that things aren’t going to go back to the way they were before, which wasn’t working. But I feel like people should understand you can’t go back to that, we can’t go back to what wasn’t working.”</p>
<p class="font_8">Having had to postpone The Chocolate Chip due to COVID, the two-week success is back in London, unfiltered and unapologetic to tackle difficult topics from a witty perspective. Having grown in profile considerably over the pandemic I wanted to know how this has impacted the show whilst it’s been postponed and him personally. “It was rewarding to see a very big increase in profile over 2020. But, I’ve been trying to say this for years, particularly in comedy, there’s a lot of validity that should go towards the critics and those performing in comedy who won’t play down the themes that were discussed.”</p>
<p class="font_8">One of the things I love about Dane’s approach is he isn’t here to avoid the uncomfortable or to sugarcoat the reality. Ultimately he endeavours to avoid the BS involved, “I don’t believe in the whole idea of scaling it back. I don’t think that does any good. Don’t get me wrong I’ve tried it, but I can’t do it. It’s just not who I am, It’s very tongue in cheek which I think generation Z are responding to. I’m looking forward to the comeback, some things are a lot punchier, whilst some things still walk that tightrope, really pushing the show to the edge. I think that’s a big part of that what I discussed in my material, I don’t consider what I do to be particularly edgy, it is just making honest observations about the world that I can see. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve started to do some small gigs here and there and I’ve just been testing out that material. It’s gotten a very good reception, and I’m thrilled”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">With Dane back on the stage with his UK tour rescheduled in October, I ask how he’s found himself keeping busy throughout lockdown with most of his work being at a standstill.“I’ve been supplementing a few things for the world of live work. We’re doing some zoom calls and recording my podcast series ‘Dane Baptiste Questions Everything’. So it’s been fun recording the podcast, embracing the new ways of contacting audiences through live stream and zoom. I’ve been enjoying learning a new skill of being able to perform down the lens of a digital camera.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">Having captured an active audience I wondered what’s been a pinnacle point from producing not only an in-demand show but his podcast. “What was particularly significant was a lot of the positive feedback from a lot of my black predecessors, who were like, you know, dang, this is amazing.”</p>
<p class="font_8">Mental health and comedy are something I’ve always found interesting. As a. platform that creates joy in the good. and the bad, I’ve always been curious about the perceptions surrounding not only the content but also the comedians behind it and the stigma and stereotypes surrounding their job.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">Something I imagine has its difficulties is that some expect them to be upbeat and funny finding light in everything all the time. Dane tells me it certainly is the case that many comedians have experienced this at some point in their careers and that at times it can be a difficult ideology to deal with. “It can be difficult, there most certainly can be repressed emotionally. I always tell myself that that’s ok as long as I can reference it. What’s great is when I may not have the tools or the words to articulate a certain emotion finding a comedic outlet can be great, comedy really can be the best medicine. You know all people say if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry and it is true but it’s important to note the sense of being happy all the time. Being able to laugh about something further down the line is a great part of our rationalisation process and our healing process but it’s a balance. I would never assume that comedians are funny offstage because of how they behave on stage, especially because given the year we’ve had. Many of us are observational comedians, and seeing the world around you can be rough, I’ve most certainly not dealt with the intensity of some of the issues emotionally but I use the darker thoughts or experiences or traumas that I observe or think of in my head to offer a method of coping, that helps people to rationalise it.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">I find it an interesting and almost a noble endeavour for so many to flip the darkness of reality into an outlet of laughter, and although I’m sure it has moments of overwhelming weight, as we’ve seen from so many comedians who suffer from their mental health, it can be seen as one of the most wonderful gifts one could give in a world with some many problems and difficulties to overcome. The power of laughter truly has and always will be a way to heal.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>

Dane Baptiste

Dane Baptiste : "Comedy really can be the best medicine"

<p class="font_8">Season 13 of the Real Housewives of New York City is well underway and Leah McSweeney has spent the last few seasons shaking up the cast with a real, authentic, and modern take on the world. Leah is a successful American fashion designer and founder of the women’s streetwear line Married to the Mob in 2004. As per Leah’s Season 13 tagline, she inspires us by being ‘sex-positive and BS negative’, with many adoring this influential, powerful, badass woman.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">Mental health can be a turbulent path particularly when you’re concerned about stigma and judgments. Leah warmly opened up surrounding her experiences with mental health. “I remember getting my diagnosis when I was 30. It was my 30th birthday. And I was in my psychiatrist’s office thinking, what is wrong with me? Why am I back to this place again? When he replied and said I was looking through all of our text messages and it seems I won’t hear from you for a few months. And then all of a sudden, you text me and you’re like, having this crazy depression and then you tell me about what led up to it, how it was a series of you having all this fun, spending all this money and having sex with all these people. He said, this is Bipolar, you’re Manic Depressive. I was like, holy shit, what does that even mean? It was a relief but also felt like something was completely wrong. I felt I was fucked up for life and that I was never gonna get better-I remember feeling totally hopeless. Thank God, I haven’t had those symptoms for years now.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">The HATC team are boastful fans of Bravo and The Real Housewives franchise. For the team, Leah was a pioneer and breath of fresh air joining the cast with the New York Ladies back in 2020. Leah was open about her relationship with alcohol and the first housewife to be truly transparent about her mental health and began a dialogue. Leah educated the ladies and us at home. But I can imagine, it must have been sizeably daunting. “It’s something I’m still getting used to. It’s funny because I saw someone on Instagram posted, “Leah has bipolar everybody. She’s dealing with her mental health. She is disabled, you can’t be so hard on her.” and I thought no, I’m not a victim. Don’t go easy on me because of XYZ, I don’t want that at all. I’m just as capable as anyone else. You know what it is? Let’s take the bipolar aspect out of it and say anxiety, depression because I think I suffer mainly from anxiety at this point. Although I guess some people don’t. I think reality TV as someone</p>
<p class="font_8">that deals with mental health issues I have to be aware of and have a support system. I need to be checking in with my psychiatrists. I need to have my inner circle, my support andbe hyper-aware.”</p>
<p class="font_8">Leah describes the aim of a healthy mind and wellbeing by producing enthralling rhetorical questions which really left the team thinking about her incredible point “Is this self-indulgent? Why do I need to work so hard at feeling good? I kind of feel bad about that. Other people who are struggling with physical illnesses, deaths, living in war-torn countries. And hearing this I feel a little guilty about it.” Mental health stigma refers to societal disapproval, or when society places shame on people who live with a mental illness or seek help for emotional distress or also use it to justify or explain a person’s behaviour. Leah conversed around this topic which is special to HATC and our core values. “Last year I was outed for it, which I did not think was gonna happen. I have been publicly open about it before I was famous and on TV. So when it was used, (I’m not trying to use buzzwords here) and it was kind of weaponised against me to explain the idea of this is why she’s acting this way, that was not me showing any symptoms of bipolar on the show. I was clearly just really drunk. In hindsight, it was great that it was brought up because I think it reached a lot of people, it gave me a chance to talk about it. It also made me realise that the important thing for me to do with this new platform is talking about mental health, it’s really popular to talk about it right now. But it’s something we’ve been dealing with for a very long time, I’m very happy that people are finally paying attention to it. That’s why I thought was great about Head Above The Clouds. Mental health, let’s talk about it! It makes me feel better. Selfishly I want to use my platform to talk about it and connect with people because it helps me.”</p>
<p class="font_8">Leah reveals her experience with her mental health on the Real Housewives of New York City after a cast mate uncovered her diagnosis. “It was brought up in a dramatic way. We all talked about it. It was it’s fine the way it happened. I’m glad it happened when it did, as maybe it would have taken me longer to bring it up. I’m happy that it came up during the pandemic too. The show was airing during the pandemic, and the pandemic has been a mental health crisis for everybody. I mean, how are you not mentally affected by this? I still don’t know what’s happening in our world. When is this going to be over? I’m still mad anxious over this and I’m worried about COVID. We live in a new world and I’m still adjusting to it. And I was adjusting to it this past season when we filmed, that season was very difficult. That aspect of reality TV is weird because there’s plenty of days that I don’t want to see anybody and I don’t want to leave my house. I have those days, they don’t last for weeks and weeks like they used to, but they’re there and I can say, You know what? I have to show up. So that’s challenging.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">Everyone’s mental wellness journey is unique and individual. Sometimes we have blunders or modifications when we are progressing. Leah was asked what encourages her wellbeing daily. “Sleep is so important. If I do not get not enough sleep I am a wreck. I take medication. I have to exercise. I have a therapist. I see my psychiatrist because he does a lot of talking therapy. I’ve done it all, gone psycho-spiritual I’ve done it all, like Monks and Rabbis. Those were the key things.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>

Leah McSweeney

Leah McSweeney: "I felt I was fucked up for life and that I was never gonna get better"

<p class="font_8">Mason Gooding is a charmer. As he bursts into our Zoom interview full of excitement the first thing he does is compliment my British accent. He’s won me over. In a few hours, he’ll be getting styled up for our cover shoot in sunny LA with our amazing on-location team while I’m sat in miserable London wearing my trusty and well-worn lockdown tracksuit. But hey, it’s not pyjama bottoms right. Mason points out that is exactly what he is wearing from the waist down “It’s a lifestyle now”.</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">As we talk about our last holidays before lockdown, coincidentally talking about mine to LA and his to London a couple of years back, it’s clear we both have ants in our, incredibly comfortable, pants to get out of our usual routine and fly the nest. Another coincidence - both of us were in the middle of moving house when we were doing this interview. “I’m actually in the middle of moving. I figured I spent enough time collectively in one place to last three leases. So once this one was up, I was like I should probably get out and find somewhere new. About halfway through the pandemic. I was blessed with a dog. His name’s Iggy, He’s a French Bulldog. He likes to have attention so I had to put them in my bedroom while we chat, otherwise, he’d be going nuts. But he’s been the biggest change, and motivator to sort of making it through the pandemic, obviously alongside my loving family and friends.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">As someone who struggles to keep house plants alive, as much as I’d love a dog, for now, it’s a responsibility I don’t need although he tries to persuade me otherwise. Mason is convinced house plants are harder, pointing out to me his suffering one in the background. Whilst on the topic of change we speak about when something tends to go wrong in life, how we end up making changes, especially in the way we express it. “For me, it’s tattoos, definitely. There’s something about body art and self-expression through that, that makes me feel both fulfilled and artistically kind of satisfied. When I work as an actor, obviously one of my first jobs aside from giving the director what they want is becoming this character, embodying their roles, their ideals, who they are as people, their upbringing, it’s best to have a blank slate or at least as much as possible. So I decided I’d make that as hard as possible by basically covering myself in tattoos. But my thought process has always been despite the inherent selfish decision to want my body to look my own when I sit in a makeup chair and the lovely makeup community on Love Victor - her name’s Kathleen, she’s amazing at her job - cover me in makeup and they dissipate all the tattoos and ink on my body it helps me mentally kind of step into the idea that I’m now becoming someone different. When I look in the mirror and I no longer see the body art that I have, it allows me to make a cognitive switch between Mason and I guess in the case of Andrew or whoever else I portray.”</p>
<p class="font_8">​</p>
<p class="font_8">I asked what his favourite would be if he had to pick one. “I’ll tell you, I have to pick the one that would be the most meaningful. It probably varies every time I get a new one. My most personal which was my first would be a ship and in the compass, circling it, instead of north, East, South, and West it says C S S P standing for Cuba, Spencer, Sara, and Piper, my father, brother, mother and sister. I wanted to get something to commemorate the family dynamic that I have and how much I love them because they are everything to me. I’m a big Anime fan, and I frequently get these tattoos of artwork from Manga, mostly from a source material done by Raman, and he’s brilliant. He does these really fine, meticulous ones. You got me talking about them now. I have another one of my back by Shlomi The Homie on Instagram, he does such great shading and detailed work, especially with white ink on black, and I have a lion on my back subtle, you know, nice, streamlined. That’s usually the one that gets photographed the most. It’s hard because I love them. I love them all."</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>

Mason Gooding

Mason Gooding: "I just want to make art for other people and to make them feel"

<p class="font_8">“Hi Gorge”, Gottmik greets me over Zoom from LA with her now-famous catchphrase. She became an instant star after her impeccable run on Series 13 RuPaul’s Drag Race, setting a new precedent for what it means to be a drag queen today. From the second she entered the werk room determined to crash the “cis-tem” she challenged the preconceived notions of what it meant to be a trans man in 2021. Blurring the lines between gender in a no fucks given way she was a visual advocate for throwing conformity out the window in a way that was entertaining, educational and fostered greater empathy. In a society where trans people are celebrated for “passing”, Gottmiks position in the middle of a constrictive spectrum, on international TV has given a voice to countless people around the globe and personifies the compassionate change we need so desperately in the world.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">I sit with a cup of tea to catch up with Gottmik about her 2022 future endeavours, combating labels, and finding her true identity. As we exchange pleasantries I can think of no better place than to start than the success she’s found on Drag Race and how being the first trans male to appear on the show has impacted the trans community. “I think me going on Drag Race as the first Trans Male has impacted the community as a whole in a way that I didn’t see coming. I thought I was just going to go on there and tell my story, hoping whoever sees it connects with it, but since getting off the show I’ve been able to travel and meet so many people from every gender on the spectrum. I felt I was breaking boundaries and it opened so many more doors than I ever thought possible. I think it gave people hope, even if they didn’t connect with my story. I’m so grateful I could come and tell my journey on that platform.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Gottmik, ever modest, seemed hesitant at times when talking about the journey she’s been through and the response she’s received from fans both in and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. I can’t help but wonder whether being a small-town kid who had to find their own way through their struggles has had something to do with it. I was keen to ask how drag has helped established her identity.“Drag was the way I found my identity across the board. I always knew I was trans, I just never had the language or the vocabulary to voice it let alone how to describe it. Although I wasn’t sure what my identity was, I knew that there was something there with my gender. So finding drag and expressing what I was feeling through a physical art form with my body and finding what I was comfortable looking like, has been such a monumental thing for me to figure out.”</p>

Gottmik

Gottmik: "I always knew I was trans, I just never had the language to voice it let alone describe it"

<p class="font_8">Freddy Miyares is a man making his mark. Having shot to fame having starred in Netflix’s When They See Us’ he joins me on Zoom from overseas Calabasas to share his love for acting, his desire for a film industry built on diversity and behind-the-scenes secrets behind his role as Skel from HBO’s DMZ.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: Where are you calling from LA?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: I’m in Calabasas. About a 45-minute drive from LA. I love it out here. I don’t see why more people aren’t living out here. You’re closer to the hiking trails, it’s quieter and has way more space.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: LA can be a little bit mad. Malibu is lovely.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: It’s lovely. I was there this weekend. It’s a never-ending coastline. So beautiful. I love being by the sea. I went surfing recently for the first time in Hawaii last November. All I could think was I can’t even get on a skateboard. We got this like surf instructor to teach us and within maybe 30 minutes I was up on the board.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: I don’t think I’d be any good at it but maybe I’ll find my stride. But onto business, how did you find your journey into the film industry and your roles compared to what you imagined?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: You know, I really had no expectations early on. It’s interesting because in hindsight I have a completely different perspective now it’s been long enough, but I studied acting from third grade all the way through until college and then graduated. I was always in an academic setting when it came to acting. By sheer virtue of the history of theatre, there weren’t many roles that catered to me. Most of them are, Eurocentric in a way where, you know, a Latino man from Miami. A lot of the time I felt I didn’t fit in those plays. But I never saw that being an issue, because it was always an educational experience.</p>
<p class="font_8">But the difference was when I became aware that livelihood was at stake. It was then I started noticing that I was only getting sent in for specific roles. And none of those roles were ones that I particularly want to play, like cartel members, or, you know the hot Latino boy. I was just excited to audition and book a job and start my career that way. Sure enough, I was auditioning constantly but there weren’t many roles that I resonated with. And therefore, I just wasn’t seeing the light of day because nothing, was sinking in which meant the product wasn’t as good.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: It must have been elating when you got the role in When They See Us, something you felt so passionate about?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: When I got the audition for When They See Us it was the first time where I saw the material, I saw the character and I knew I had to play it. It was something I needed to sink my teeth into. There are not going to be that many opportunities like this. It just resonated with me in a way that others hadn’t. So I’ve dedicated a lot of time to that one, and it paid off. It reminded me there has to be a reason why I do it. I’ve sort of made it a point of intention, doing roles that either show people of colour or minorities in a light that hasn’t been seen. Roles that aren’t side characters, or villains.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">My dream is to get to a point where everyone on camera or stage is seen as human. That’s it. We still have a long way to go. I’m just fortunate and grateful that I’m in a position where I can cause a little ripple effect towards the direction that I want it to go. I’m realising now more than ever, that the only way to do that is to take control of your career. Whether it be writing it or pitching ideas where we’re being represented. And I say we as in like, the Latino community.</p>
<p class="font_8">It’s great to see better representation, and alongside your passion, it’s moving in the right direction. Sadly so many roles in the industry are written imaging white cis males.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">It’s rough. I’m kind of coming off of a bit of an instance where I felt very confident. I met with a director that I was in conversations with to play this character, and then I hear back that it didn’t go my way because I didn’t look close enough. To then see their choice where the main differences were complexion was brutal. I’ve put a lot of work into it. It really does come down to political minutiae. I’m someone who likes to have some control in my life. But it’s kind of an ironic situation for me because there’s so little I can do.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: The privilege so many of us have is so often forgotten and taken for granted. It’s heartbreaking to hear and I can see how much the role meant to you.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: You know, there are times where I’ll get an audition, where I already know it’s probably not gonna go my way simply because it clearly doesn’t resonate with me, or I just, I can’t even envision myself playing that character. But I’ve just got to take it as an opportunity to keep working on my craft.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: Sometimes when they say no, you have to keep trying.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: Can I show you some?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: Sure!</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: Since that job, these are all of the no’s that I’ve gotten? (holding up a pile of hefty-looking scripts) It’s kind of hard to see but I hold on to these just as a visual reference. For me, this can pile up to the ceiling, but I’m still going to keep doing it. Because I know that somewhere in the middle of these there might be a potential. One of them will stick. Until then I’m going to continue paying my dues.</p>
<p class="font_8">I often remind myself when it comes to jobs, the more you see, the higher the chance you’ll find that one because you’re putting yourself out there. Saying that you’ve found a home with HBO for DMZ, is incredible.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">I completely agree, the idea that things are meant to be is my personal choice to see it that way. It’s a good way to see things because you can always find a reason for something. I think it’s really normal to be disappointed. You can’t always have it bounce off of you. That’s like an unrealistic expectation. Like some days, it’s going to cut deep and it’s going to feel like shit. You just got to ride through it. I went through it. I’m still I’m coming off of it. I’m still a little frustrated, hence why I’m talking about it. But it’s healthy to talk about it.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: How does it feel to be part of a series like DMZ, such an amazing role on such a good platform? It must have felt good to put your all into it and enjoy it?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: I certainly did. I’d worked with Eva previously. It was very reassuring that she offered me a role, based on my work from my last series. Secondly, Roberto Pitino, who’s the showrunner, mentioned that he wanted me in it based on my previous work Rosario Dawson was his vision for Alma. It all worked out that I got to play this character, it’s just a great privilege and pleasure. It was the first time I really had some creative say over a role, you know, developing the backstory prior to shooting the pilot. We were really creating a story from the ground up, and that was really cool for me as a young actor, seeing how Rosario and Ben analyse the script and getting to ask the questions that mattered to them. And it was very insightful. Then the pandemic happened.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: Which must have been weird, because it is a similar dystopia kind of setting to what you were filming?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: It was very eerie. The pilot takes place in this assumed world where we’re in a second American Civil War. This is 2020 prior to the election, and the premise is that the current sitting president had refused to leave office. That was the assumption. A bit too similar right? Except it happened a year before what happened. So looking back, it’s extremely weird how relevant it was. I remember shooting the last day of production, before stopping before the shutdown. I remember going to New York where my girlfriend was living at the time and within probably a day of everything shutting down I remember walking in the streets of New York and just hearing echoes. It was just like a ghost town. The show takes place in New York, this sort of abandoned New York City. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen New York this way. It has so much similarity to the world that we were creating. It was crazy.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: It must have felt good to be on a series that you so clearly connected to, even if it was condensed due to the pandemic?</p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: It was supposed to have multiple seasons. But the budget had shrunk down, unfortunately, so a three-season story got cut down to three episodes. But we tried to make the most out of it. I absolutely loved my cast and crew, they are all incredible human beings first off, and incredibly generous actors. There was not a single day when Rosario wasn’t smiling and clapping. She does this thing every time she’s excited, &nbsp;it’s the sweetest thing, she’s a ray of light. No matter what time of day, no matter how long she’s been working she’s just a quintessential leader in that in that regard. So it was really, really fun shooting, a really great experience.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: It’s an interesting character you play, he’s complicated and well thought through.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: He’s a dark character. He’s gone through a lot and this show dissects him. We had some emotional scenes, one, in particular, was with me and Rosario, laying it out there. Our director sent me a revised edit of the script where we were screaming at each other before we hugged. It didn’t really feel right so I made some notes and when it came to it he made the change. I feel like the better the show became with the constraints that were already built-in, you know, the budgeting constraints, the now limited series, where you already had a preexisting pilot that was established for a multiple season setup. A lot was going against it. But I think even with all those challenges, we really were able to tell a beautiful story about a mother in pursuit of her son. I do believe that if I hold my integrity then the roles that I do play will have more substance. And hopefully, that will elevate me in a position where I have some stakes in the storytelling side of things.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">HATC: You’ve just got to hold out that hope.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Freddy: I’m adopting that now. I’m gonna go out there, do my thing.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Words: Alice Gee</p>
<p class="font_8">Photography: Sami &nbsp;Drasin</p>
<p class="font_8">Styling: Monty Jackson</p>
<p class="font_8">Grooming: Courtney Housner</p>

Freddy Miyares

Freddy Miyares: "My dream is to get to a point where everyone on camera or stage is seen as human."

<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">I grab a coffee with Billy at Gail’s in Highgate to chat with him about his latest role in BBC’s latest drama &nbsp;Chloe. As we catch up, I get to know that Billy partially grew up in Stoke-on-Trent somewhere I know all very well from spending much of my childhood visiting family there. Reminiscing about the popular oatcake shops Billy tells me a little more about his childhood and the places he’s called home over the years.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“Well, I recently had a chat with my mum about this, because I kind of didn’t know how long I was there. But I think it must have been until I was about two. It’s funny because I have some quite vivid, well I say memories, more sort of fragments of visual images in my head. Then we moved outside of Oxford until I was about 10, I remember spending the ‘millennium’ in our small town with my very close friend and running to his house before midnight and knocking on the door so we could celebrate with them. It was shortly after the millennium, that we left.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">His family then find a home in Scarborough, I ask if he finds himself visiting it as home often?</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“Well, less so now. I mean, my parents are ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives. They were full-time teachers for the whole of their careers. Not to say they weren’t interested in what they were doing when they were teaching. But they want to get creative and feel like human beings rather than automatons.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Moving and experiencing so many places growing up, I find the process fascinating having spent my entire childhood in the same home and small-town village. I wonder whether moving around so much had an impact on him.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“Yes and no. I’m still doing it. It gets easier, but I think it becomes easier with time, from learning coping strategies. I think there was a shift after we moved from Oxford. I was 10 years old, the end of my formative years. I remember I was starting to see the world differently. You know, it starts to come alive in a way that it wasn’t before, you start asking new questions, so it’s quite a fragile period. To go from having my best friends who I saw every day who I was exploring the world with, and to be torn away from them and from what I knew affected me. Since then, moving around has often been dictated by something that I want to do. Going to university or a role which it’s in my interests to do. It’s not from things that have been outside of my control.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">I think moving when I was younger affected me, in quite a big way, as it was a culture shock. Scarborough is very different to Oxford in so many ways, and that’s not to say that I didn’t adapt, I had to, but I think over time, in retrospect, I realise how uncomfortable the need to adapt was, and how much of it had to do with my survival. I think that’s something we kind of take for granted.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">As we hover over our teenage years I talk to Billy about On Chesil Beach, a book I studied in college which Billy went on to feature in, as Edward alongside Saoirse Ronan. I was interested in how the success he found from a sterling performance impacted his acting career?</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“It got me noticed, I saw it as a blessing and a curse. I think at the time, youth gives you this blasé view about what is happening to you. I think it was also tinged with, although I’m hesitant to call it arrogance, I guess it kind of was. I don’t think I was an arrogant person but I think it was almost like a coping mechanism. I was surrounded by my peers, who I was imitating so that I appeared to understand what they were doing. To fit in, you must at least assimilate that behaviour. Then something clicked, and it sort of makes sense to enough people. For them to go ‘that piece of work was good,’ watchable, great reviews were new to me. I’m probably doing myself a disservice talking that way about it. I was learning to land on my feet. I could theorize and read as many books as I liked on filmmaking but it’s not until you go on set that you learn. My ethos, the thing that has been carrying me through is quite simple, no matter the job it’s about some level of enjoying whatever I’m learning and doing.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">It’s an ethos that not only means a lot to him but one that’s working. Speaking of success, I steer us towards the incredible hype around Chloe, what’s behind his latest role and the writing involved in featuring in BBC’s psychological thriller.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“It’s really about human behaviour. It’s about what makes people tick and obsession, idealising people or having an ideal version of yourself that you can present to the world utilizing social media. It’s about having an unhealthy level of obsession with that. Then the themes also touch on suicide and touch on control from controlling relationships. Really big themes, that need a delicate balance. I mean, it’s a testament to the writing.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Having studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School it must have been a welcomed surprise to work alongside fellow alumni. &nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“It was great timing. I mean, working with Erin Doherty who was at the same drama school was great. I think we were one year apart; she was one year below me. We kind of knew each other but I don’t think we ever really crossed paths. When we found out that we were both working together, it was great, something to look forward to. There’s a style or residual thing that sticks around. I think you can kind of tell when someone studied at Bristol, there’s something about Josh O’Connor and Olivia Coleman that’s distinctive. I guess it’s probably one of only a few times where I’ve been proud to represent an institution. I am proud of the school and the part of me and the tools that it’s given me to get where I am today. I’ll always be kind of grateful for the teaching staff and the rest of the students when I was there. I have a real fondness and nostalgia for Bristol.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Since leaving Bristol, Billy has performed several high-profile roles. Something I was curious to ask is how performing in darker roles impacts those performing. I wanted to know whether it takes as much of a toll as the character feels.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">“That’s a good question. The short answer is, yes, I think it’s unavoidable or at least it is for me. I can’t speak for other actors, but I do know some actors who seem to be quite resilient. When I was a younger actor, I really would take the work home with me to such an extent, the only real way for me to manage was to drink. But that’s only got a limited shelf life. It’s not a sustainable thing. I think in some ways it was some sort of rite of passage. Doing this job, you find yourself in a different universe and in some ways, the world has opened up to you, and it provides you with so many more opportunities, so many that wouldn’t occur to you otherwise. But what it also does over time, if you allow it to and you don’t have the means with which to stop it, is that it takes you further away from your truth. So, you start to play into the version of yourself that they expect you to be. If I start behaving how people are expecting me to behave, the next time they see me they’re going to expect me to do it again.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">I think I understood that from playing the clown in new schools every time I moved. That I could make people laugh. I knew how to work a room, &nbsp;I could tell stories, silly things that were guaranteed to get a reaction out of people. So I got to a point, I was working more and more, drinking, and blurring the lines. When I looked back on the last 10 years, it became a bit of a blur. There was a lot of celebration which is difficult when it’s constant and you’re trying to figure out what you’re celebrating. I had a lot of social anxiety, I’m just a kid from Scarborough. It’s a very weird feeling coming back down to reality. It’s frigging exhausting.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">I imagine it’s a dangerous game, getting to grips with newfound fame all whilst finding a balance in your personal life.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">&nbsp;“Yeah, definitely. When people would say to me, be kind to yourself my reaction often was like, Oh, well, it’s fine. I’m doing fine, look at what’s happening. I’m doing well aren’t I, these people are applauding what I’m doing, never mind the fact that I keep being brought in to play these roles. It’s something I think that’s fascinating. I think it’s interesting, as I’ve enjoyed the characters I’ve played but I guess they have had some residual impact. They’ve kind of informed who I am today.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">But something, I think, to bear in mind is that there’s always a sort of forwarding momentum to how the industry operates. I must be on my game, and I must accept this. What’s important to remember is that it’s a two-way street. And the two-way street is a negotiation. You can say to them from a place of trust and a place of mutual understanding and respect how you feel. But often what my job is, is to get under the skin of this individual, and convince myself so much that I truly believe the character’s journey, but it’s also about recognising the longevity of that in real-time. How sustainable is it? Because I don’t know. But with that in mind, I’m curious as to what is on the other side of this journey.”</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Which is something obvious to the viewer’s eyes. Billy’s capability to get under the skin of what makes each character who they are is something he does well, so it’s no surprise he has found such success so far in his acting career. His honest and open conversation with me about his experiences with mental health and his work as an actor is something I’m sure will resonate with others out there, especially those that have taken on difficult roles. What’s nice to hear is he’s still clearly enjoying the experience and opportunities each one brings, and although there’s a question of sustainability for many in the industry, it’s not something Billy is worried about acknowledging and challenging.</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify"><br></p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Words: Alice Gee</p>
<p class="font_8" style="text-align: justify">Photography: Iona Wolff</p>

Billy Howle

Billy Howle: "It got me noticed, I saw it as a blessing and a curse. I think at the time, youth gives you this blasé view about what is happening to you."

<p class="font_8">Kitty Scott-Claus is a British drag performer who sky-rocketed into our lives through RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3. Kitty had an outlandish Snatch Game serving Gemma Collins realness and did not miss a beat, it was a meme fantasy with the quotations down to perfection. Kitty is one of London’s best-known and cherished drag queens who brings the glamour, glitz and giggles. She came to slay and to stay, she was warm, hard-working and unique when sashaying onto our screens and into the legendary ‘werkroom’.</p>
<p class="font_8">Kitty had a fantastic season, we wanted to know how she had been doing since the show had aired.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“I’ve been brilliant, thank you, I’ve just come off tour. I just love working and I love what I do so honestly, it doesn’t feel like I’m working ever. It feels like if I’m not in drag and everything, I’m not working. It’s was sad though after COVID and lockdowns and not being able to work for so long. So it’s just amazing to be working and in demand. And I’ve been pinching myself every day!’</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Everyone’s voyage through life is hugely different and complex, we had to know what Kitty’s journey has been like and how she first got into the wonderful world of Drag.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“Do you know what, so I started Drag about five years ago and obviously, I dabbled a bit before and I was like, oh my god that would be fun. The reason I started doing it seriously was that my best friend was a Drag Queen and they got free drinks, I might sound jealous, I could do that and get attention from boys and free drinks! What’s not to love? Sign me up!” she laughs “And then here we are five years later, runner up on Ru Pauls Drag Race. It has been amazing.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“I just had the best time doing it. When we filmed it we were in lockdown, we had to make sure that we were in isolation for 10 days before filming. By the time we got around to filming, it was like ‘oh my god, we’re with other people’ and I remember the first lip-syncs, it was the tops and the bottoms that week, it was like being in a club because like the music’s pumping, people are dancing, we’re at the back like cheering them on and the lights are going. It was just incredible. It’s the best night out and we get to do it every week.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Kitty opened up about what it was like being on the show during a lockdown. It was hard for many of us to find focus at this time, let alone when you’re staring in the UK’s newest most treasured programme. Kitty used this time to thrive.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“Because of lockdown there was no like nightlife, there was nothing for so long. Afterwards, I was trying to go into a show like how are we going to do this and preparing for it in a lockdown. This is the thing people ask us, how was it being in Drag Race in the lockdown? &nbsp;I don’t know what it’s like to be in a drag race out of the lockdown. It’s just normal. There was added pressure because all the shops were shut. I couldn’t pop out and get my nails, and I couldn’t go and get my nude underwear from Primark. The fabric shops were closed and everything had to be imported, that was all an add on stress, just another layer on top.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">I feel like I’m the biggest poster girl for Drag Race now, I’ve had the best time even getting ready for the show. I know it’s so stressful. Every day, it was like, I’ve got to go for this fitting and then I come home and I’ve got to make this, this and that. And then I’ve got to buy this makeup and this lipstick and more. Even just doing all that it was nice hustling and focussing on a project. Because of the lockdown, there was nothing else to do.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Kitty has a uniqueness and fierce flare, we asked if being on Drag Race impacted her image and if it elevated her identity. Kitty replies, “I remember when I started struggling, I always had a very clear idea of who Kitty was and what I wanted to do with aesthetics and the looks, I was always one for big blonde hair and big boobs. &nbsp;Pink, that’s my colour, think Barbie and Elle Woods. But going on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, it just makes you elevate everything because he has such an eye it’s like you’re under a microscope. The rest of the world is looking at you and thinking -why has she done this? Why has she picked this up? I remember everything had to be so perfect.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Because before I would just go to my previous look, I buy a little dress, a suit, put a couple of rhinestones on it and it is done and good. I’ve made a look. Now, this is the thing, I’ve heard Ru say when the Drag Race is over you’ve got to make your own Drag Race. You’ve got to just keep it going, keep the momentum going and keep upping and like topping yourself because you just want to be the best that you can be.</p>
<p class="font_8">I look back at the stuff that I did on the runway now and I’m like, you know what I’m so proud of absolutely everything I did. But there are little things that if I could go back I would do; I would cut that a bit shorter, I’d make it a bit longer, you see it through different eyes after going through it. For me at least it gave me an even more defined and definite version of who Kitty is and what the look is.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">A captivating aspect of Drag Race for fans is overseeing the Queens unite together and watch friendships blossom. We see the cast slowly open up and share their personal stories and deepest secrets. We asked Kitty about the friendships she made on the show.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“There are people that you get naturally drawn towards. I’m so close with Ella Vaday, I talk about her every single day. She is my bestie and I love her. We’ve known each other before the show, we spoke online at times. She hadn’t been doing drag that long, but we were in similar circles-the musical theatre circle. Yeah. We were friends of friends. Do you know what I mean?</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Being in that environment and going through all that, it’s the most incredible experience and no one else in the world will know what it’s like to go through that. With Krystal, I’m 10 years older than her, we would never normally be friends and in the outside world. It’s such an age gap but because we were in that environment, it brings you together, and we’re so close as a top three of the top four.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Because of its incredibly diverse audience, Drag Race is well known for highlighting important social issues, especially those affecting the LGBTIQA+ community to new and incredibly sympathetic audiences.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“It opens the conversation for people to have moments of vulnerability. Obviously, it’s television and only a portion of what we talk about actually goes out. I remember a conversation where we spoke about consent. I felt really passionate about it because I’ve had experiences where I’ve not given consent, and I liked him, he was quite outgoing, but I’m not very touchy-feely, I’m not very like a PDA person. So I’m so glad that that conversation has been brought to the mainstream and the public and the now consensus is that it is sexy to ask for consent.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Kitty opened up on Drag Race UK and showed a vulnerable side to viewers and has kindly continued that conversation here with us, delving into topics of self-worth and body image.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“I’ve never had depression. I’ve always had quite good mental health but growing up (I grew up doing musical theatre), I went to drama school, and you grow up being told you need to get this part or you’re not good enough. It’s taken me so long to realise I am good enough. And what makes me different, is my greatest power because there are so many people out there who also feel like that and that they aren’t good enough as well. I know, RuPaul says that “if you can’t love yourself how the hell are you going to love somebody else ‘’ and that is so true. It’s such a powerful message that you need to love yourself because you are fantastic the way you are. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Everyone’s got a bit of a tummy, everyone’s arm wiggles and it is what it is, that’s what makes you beautiful! The things that you’re insecure about are what make you gorgeous.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">‘I’m the biggest believer in fake it till you make it. So I would be like, whatever, I’m gonna be this part and I’m gonna be funny. And I know I can make everyone in this room laugh and they can’t because they’re skinny, not villainizing skinny people” she adds quickly “It’s learning to accept your gifts and your talents and thinking, you know what, they might look amazing in a bikini, but I know I can stick on a couple of pairs of tights and a hip pad and I can make people laugh. I make people smile. It’s about learning the things that make you special that’s the most important thing.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">I remember episode one thinking ‘omg we’re walking the runway’ and it’s so high pressure. I just thought I have to pretend like ‘i’m not fazed by this. This isn’t gonna faze me but inside myself, I felt like oh my god I’m about to walk in front of Ru and Michelle. It’s such a huge moment but I had to think you’ve got this, put on a smile, you know who you are and just go and have the best time. When I was coming off like I wanted to do it again!”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">UK has quickly become one of the most successful jewels the Drag Race franchise has seen, with fans around the world tuning in every week to watch the queens take on well-loved challenges while sprinkling in that classic British charm. We asked what the response has been to this series from fans and viewers.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“I remember thinking when we were filming it that this is so mad because of the cost of everything that goes on and you know the ins and outs. It was funny to think that in like six months, the entire world is going to be so engrossed in every little detail of what goes on in these four walls. The reception has been so, so lovely. Everyone has been so sweet, so kind and I’m so grateful to World of Wonder and the BBC for even just putting me on the show. I feel like the biggest competition is just being on the show in the first place.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">I’m not competitive with other people at all. Even on the first day I just felt like they can do what they want, I’m just here to be me. In the words of the GC I’m here to enjoy myself and I’m not getting involved. I’m competitive within myself though.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">We couldn’t let Kitty go without asking if she could spill a little bit of tea about her upcoming project, Death Drop - A Dragatha Christie Murder-Mystery hitting the West End this month, in which she stars alongside Drag Race legend JuJuBee. &nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">“It’s at the Criterion Theatre open March until the end of April. I’m so excited about it, as I said before, I trained in musical theatre and I worked in musical theatre before Drag Race. So now it feels so full circle to me, back to my roots.”</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">You can get tickets to see the enchanting Kitty Scott-Claus in Death Drop now for a seven-week run, with tickets starting at £22.</p>
<p class="font_8"><br></p>
<p class="font_8">Words: Bronte Evans</p>
<p class="font_8">Photography:Kitty Scott-Claus Press</p>

Kitty Scott-Claus

Kitty Scott-Claus:"I look back at the stuff that I did on the runway now and I’m like, you know what I’m so proud of absolutely everything I did."