Out of work actresses hope home-made web series will produce big break

06:11 20 November 2014

Amani Zardoe and Hatty Jones. Picture: Max Lacombe

Amani Zardoe and Hatty Jones. Picture: Max Lacombe

Archant

Hatty Jones scored the kind of break most actresses dream of at the age of 10 – the title role in a major movie.

But after starring in Madeline, and narrowly missing out on playing Hermione Grainger in the Harry Potter franchise, she disappeared to live a normal life.

Now, after attending Channing School and Mountview drama school, the 26-year-old has made a web series with fellow thespian Amani Zardoe about a pair of out of work actresses.

The duo wrote, produced and performed Offstage and shot it in Jones’ family home in Muswell Hill. They hope it will draw attention from casting directors.

It follows two twentysomething friends trying to break into the over-crowded acting industry, daily dealing with rejection, jealousy and the awful fear of being left behind by friends with regular jobs. Driven by passion and a naïve determination, they refuse to abandon their dreams.

Jones says: “We had so many funny, bizarre situations we found ourselves in that we decided to write them as sketches.

“We realised with the internet it would be much quicker, easier and cheaper to ask friends with cameras to film them, put them on Youtube, and send them to casting directors.

“We hope to expose the reality of an actor’s daily grind; the painful monotony and sudden joy.”

The most demoralising aspect of the profession says Jones is “hanging around waiting for other people to call you while your other friends are getting on in their careers.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working for free on fringe theatre projects not managing to get that break – that one good job that makes people aware of you.”

Clueless friends who dress up to the nines to see your fringe show in a grungy Kilburn pub, and auditions for adverts where they check your hands to see you have five fingers are among the humiliations that come with the territory.

Jones’ own introduction to the business was very different, landing the lead opposite Frances Mcdormand in the 1998 film after six auditions. “I used to go to an after school drama club in Highgate that had an agency attached. When the part breakdown for Madeline came through I was perfect for it. I was such a drama-loving confident child. My parents were the opposite of pushy, they let me audition thinking I would have fun but not expecting me to get it.

“It was a very positive experience. There were eleven other girls, we all stayed in the same hotel, ate dinner together it was like a party, it never felt like a job. Looking back, my performance was totally instinctive. I didn’t worry, I just learned my lines and threw myself into it. You feel very confident because as a kid everyone tells you how great you are.”

It’s all very different for grown-up actresses, but Jones says, even though she didn’t act professionally for years acting always lingered in the background. “I can’t remember making a decision to become an actress but in my mind I always thought I would do it when I grew up.”

The first three episodes of Offstage can be found on YouTube.

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