Back in 2014, Grace Schneider started her acting career as young Jess in the feature film, Miss You Already. Up until August 2017, she could be seen on stage in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production School of Rock at the New London Theatre, which gave her the opportunity to perform at The X Factor and Pride of Britain Awards. Ahead of the soon-to-be released TV series Vanity Fair, where Grace will appear as Laura Martin, we caught up with the young actress to find out about her time in the West End, celebrity guests and love of musicals.
How and when did you find out you got the part in School of Rock?
It was a few days after the final round of auditions, I got a call from my agent. My mom answered the phone and then came into my room to tell me. We both just screamed and hugged. It was so exciting!
What’s it like performing on stage in the West End?
Performing live on stage is so different from the film or TV work I have done. It is so much fun to get live feedback from the audience. At first, I would get really nervous, but as time went on I got more comfortable performing live. School of Rock was such a fun musical to be a part of. We basically got to perform a live rock concert every night.
Did you know the plot of School of Rock before auditioning?
No, I didn’t, but during the audition process, I must have watched the movie a thousand times! My older sisters had seen the movie but it was a little before my time. So I spent a lot of time watching the film and listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway cast. I think my family was so tired of me singing Time to Play over and over.
Did you know any of the cast before rehearsals started?
I had met a few of the kids in the cast during the audition process but a lot of the kids knew each other already from either the theatre school they attend or had been in musicals together previously. Everyone was so nice and made me feel welcomed.
Did you have any celebrity guests in the audience for any of your performances?
We had many celebrities come and see the show. Especially when I performed on Press Night. There would always be a buzz backstage about who was in the audience watching that night. The best part would be when they came backstage and we would get to take a photo with them. One of my favourites would have to be when Jade from Little Mix came to watch.
What was it like performing on The X Factor and the Pride of Britain Awards?
It was so surreal to actually be performing live on stage on The X Factor in front of Simon Cowell and the judges. It has to be one of my highlights during my time with School of Rock. The Pride of Britain Awards holds a special place in my heart as it is such a worthy cause and the stories of the heroes that are recognised during the show were so moving. Singing alongside Pixie Lott wasn’t so bad either!
What’s been the best thing to come out of your time in School of Rock?
It has to be all of the friends I made during my time in the show and being around so many talented, professional people. From the amazing kids, to the supportive adults, the cast, crew and creatives were some of the best in the business. I learned I had to bring my best every night. This cast certainly did that.
Have you always wanted to appear on stage?
I have always just loved to perform in any capacity, but never really pursued performing professionally. It wasn’t until a casting director came to my school looking for someone to play a young Drew Barrymore for a feature film that on a whim I went for it and got the role. From there an agent reached out to me and I began to land various TV and film roles. At first, my family wasn’t keen on the commitment required for a West End show so I turned down opportunities to audition for several but finally convinced my mom to let me audition for Show Boat. I landed the role of Young Kim and finally got my West End debut. I was hooked and School of Rock followed right on the heels of Show Boat ending. Although I love film and TV work, there is something special about performing live on stage.
What would your dream role be?
My dream role on the stage would be to play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Jenna in Waitress or Eliza in Hamilton.
What musicals do you enjoy watching?
Any and all. My mom says I am obsessed. In my free time, I watch anything relating to musicals on YouTube or listen to Musical Theatre soundtracks.
Have you seen any in the West End or on Broadway?
I was so lucky to have recently seen Hamilton here in the West End. It was better than I could have imagined. Other West End musicals I have seen include Annie, Wicked, Matilda and The Phantom of the Opera. I also had so much fun seeing School of Rock on Broadway and even got to go backstage and warm up with the cast.
What commercial work have you done?
I have filmed a commercial for Lego and also done multiple season commercial and print ad work for Fat Face.
What are your favourite music artists to listen to?
I spend most of my time listening to musical theatre soundtracks, but when I do listen to other types of music my favourite artists are Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.
Would you ever consider releasing your own music?
It’s not something I think about or plan on pursuing but you never know what the future holds.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Whenever I have downtime, I love spending it with my friends. When I am not with them, I like to make slime, bake sweets or just play with my cat Pippa. I made the volleyball team at my school this year so I also spend time practicing and playing volleyball.
Is there anything you can tell us about your character in Vanity Fair?
I am really excited for Vanity Fair to premiere. I love period dramas and this looks to be a good one. My character is Laura Martin. She is an orphan at a school for girls. I can’t say a lot more but be on the lookout this spring on ITV/Amazon.
Do you have any other acting roles coming up this year?
I have a few castings I am waiting to hear back from here in the UK and am excited that I recently signed on with an agent in LA who has put me forward for a few things already also. We’ll see what 2018 brings!
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