Nicole is a successful television and stage actress who was brought up locally in Swanage. Renowned for playing the roles of, amongst others, Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Hall, Eva Cassidy and Agnetha Faltskog (Abba) on stage and Snowball Merriman (Bad Girls) and Dr Heather Lincoln (Casualty) on the small screen. She kindly gave up some of her time to be interviewed by Dorset Eye and gives us a background to her experiences within the acting profession.
The Nicole Faraday Interview
1. Your first television appearance occurred when you were 12. Did you get the acting buzz from this appearance or was it already there?
I always wanted to be an actress and singer-I regularly took leading roles in school and church plays and pantomimes, plus my local dancing school in Swanage-under the tutelage of June Ranger, who has taught girls dancing and performing discipline for years in the area. June and the late Barbara Moore gave me my first taste of singing and acting lead roles at the Mowlem Theatre in Swanage.
I was also a member of the Purbeck Players and Swanage Operatic Society and have happy memories growing up performing locally.
When I was 12 I won a national modelling competition and being interviewed alongside Yazz (‘The Only Way is Up’) by Gaz Topp was terribly exciting and my first glimpse of fame.
2. As a graduate of musical theatre at the Guilford School of Acting how did you find living near London and was it essentially helpful when acquiring your early roles?
I was frustrated at Guildford as I was not actually in London…it was nearby but trains stopped as usual before midnight and I felt a bit distanced from the West End etc. My first professional acting job however was touring Italy playing Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest for several months so living in London then was not an issue…since then I have felt I needed to live in London more for the day to day auditions and work opportunities for corporate presenting, workshops etc. I plan to move back down one of these days though. I love it here and love working locally too-which I have done twice recently at The Lighthouse Theatre in Poole for Dramatic Productions, playing Blanche in “A Streetcar named Desire” and Dr Jekyll in “Jekyll and Hyde” as well as touring locally as Eva Cassidy in “Over the Rainbow” and as Agnetha in “Thank you for the Music”.
3. When you graduated did you acquire an agent straight away?
Yes-we did a showcase at the end of three years training and I had several offers. I have changed agents seven times since though!
4. Are you with an agency now or do you freelance?
As a professional leading actress it is fairly essential to have good representation for negotiating deals, opening casting doors etc… I am with a great agent now, Michelle Sykes of Mondi Associates with offices in London and LA. I do also work freelance however as a corporate presenter and cabaret performer.
5. When you came out of training did you travel or was your incentive to get as much work and experience in the professional industry as possible?
I was lucky as my first few jobs and most of my career have involved travelling with my work…as well as touring Italy I filmed commercials in Belgium and Australia, sang as part of ABBA Gold in Kenya, filmed a documentary for PLAN International in Peru and have worked as a corporate presenter and actress in Lisbon, Paris, Vienna, Stockholm…to name but a few
6. Being selected for the role of Agnetha in the Abba musical ‘Thank you for the Music’ must have been a great thrill. What was it like working with Bill Kenwright and how did this experience help prepare you for later stage musical roles, for example Eva Cassidy?
I have always loved to sing and been able to impersonate female singers was a party trick.Thankyou for the Music was my first big tour so I suppose it got me used to touring life but playing every character is different and Eva and Agnetha are a very different type of music and voices, plus TYFTM was a big concert and the Eva show was a biopic of her life story with many acting scenes and was extremely hard emotionally as she died of cancer within the piece.
Bill is Bill-he is a legend in theatre and I’m pleased to say I worked for him again at The Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue a few years later in a two hander play “An Audience with the Mafia “playing Marilyn Monroe among other roles.. He is a good employer in the respect that if he likes you, he will use you again.
7. What musical instruments can you play and have you found this particularly advantageous in your career so far?
My father taught me to play the guitar-I am not highly skilled but I have always sung and it adds to having a musical ear, plus I have always been surrounded by music and enjoy folk style guitar led singers which have directly influenced my song choices in my own shows.
As Eva Cassidy I also had to play a bit. I wish I was better. I might learn the ukulele-lately I have been singing in London with my friend’s Karauke Ukelele orchestra!
8. What preparation did you make before playing Snowball Merriman in Bad Girls?
Fake tanned, lost weight, read a rule book on real life prison etiquette and researched women in prison… plus watched old Barbara Stanwyck movies and Diana Dors as along with Marilyn they were meant to be influences on my character fantasising she was like a 50’s femme fatale..Oh and practiced my accent with my best friend Dianne Pilkington (Wicked’s longest running UK Glinda) who is actually from Wigan!
9. Likewise what preparation was expected of you when you auditioned for the role of Dr Heather Lincoln in Casualty?
None whatsoever. There were doctors on set from the Bristol Royal Infirmary (used to film in Bristol-it has moved to BBC Cardiff now) to advise in each case on the technicalities and what specific terms and illnesses meant, plus my Dad is a Doctor and my Mum a hospital sister, as is my sister!, so I grew up around medical terminology and equipment. I used to sing every year at Swanage hospital too!
For the actual auditions-you don’t have to but I ALWAYS learn the script as I think on camera it looks much better to be in the character than with your head in the script…
10. How aware are you of the public response to the television characters that you play?
I had a lot of fan mail plus there are various fan sites-I did a lot of press interviews too and fans have very kindly come to see me at the theatre over the years and been very complimentary. Plus I was nominated in the final three for a What’s On stage Theatre goer’s Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a musical for my role as Shell in Bad Girls The Musical at the Garrick theatre which is nominated and voted for by the public and a really lovely recognition.
11. You tend to play glamorous characters, for example Jerry Hall, Marilyn Monroe, Agnetha as mentioned… Would you like to play plainer and more austere characters in the future?
Snowball started life glamorous but by her demise she had slit her wrists, deliberately made herself sick with food poisoning, had her head set on fire, no makeup, grey prison regulation tracksuit and a death wish….plus many of the theatre characters I have played may start off glamorous but are usually physically or emotionally unravelled by the end e.g. Blanche Dubois, Dr Jekyll or Eva Cassidy. It is more interesting to watch someone fall apart and fragment over the course of the piece. It reminds you that as in life, things and people are not always what they seem. We can all be a mess underneath…
12. When a television role is terminated how does it tend to be communicated?
I was told in a rainy car park a few weeks before on Bad Girls!! But it varies.
13. If you had to choose would it be theatre or on screen for you? Why?
I am happy to say I have been lucky to do a mixture of both and I cannot choose-I like the variety of doing both and they are such different disciplines it is like a different job sometimes. With TV you have to make everything as still and small as possible while communicating with your eyes -smaller than life-while in theatre, and particularly musical theatre depending on the venue and genre, things tend to be exaggerated and larger than life. So it is a good challenge to leap from one to another.
14. Have you got a dream role that you would still like to play and who would it be and why?
I would like to do a stage version of the Diana Dors film “Yield unto the Night” in which she is imprisoned and Diana was finally taken seriously as an actress for this role.
I would also love to play Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar-the 70’s film version I grew up with is one of my top films ever, I love the soundtrack with wa wa guitars etc-Mrs Jonstone in Blood Brothers or Evita. I am too tall for Evita though. Plus re the others-I am not a spice girl, ah me…
Oh and I would love to reprise the role of Blanche Dubois as it was a limited run we did at the Lighthouse in 2011-there is talk of us doing it again so watch this space!!
15. What has the immediate future have in store for you?
This year is already looking busy for me work wise-I am filming a new lead regular role on the Glasgow set TV series “Ninety eight percent” in Scotland in May; co-starring in a horror short film “Chair to Rent” in Brighton in April and have various cabarets and gigs coming up. For up to date information on all my scheduled appearances and forthcoming shows please visit the latest news section at my website www.nicolefaraday.co.uk
Thank you Nicole!
If you would like to interview anyone from within the community or beyond, Dorset Eye would welcome them for future publication.