After making an appearance in CBBC’s The Dumping Ground in 2015, Imogen Faires went on to have a major role in the TV series Dickensian set in 19th Century London. Alongside Anna Friel, Imogen has starred in both series of the crime drama Marcella playing Emma Backland, with the second season ending in April this year. Taking time out to answer our questions, Imogen tells us more about starting her acting career, her time on Marcella and her episode of The Dumping Ground.
Can you tell us about your character Emma Backland in Marcella?
Emma Backland was Marcella’s daughter, and a really enjoyable character to play. On the one hand, she was your typical teenager but she was also having to go through some very extreme circumstances and, although she wasn’t at the forefront of them, she would face the aftermath and the consequences.
What do you remember from your first day on set?
I actually remember quite a lot from my first day on set, as usually you experience so much anticipation and nervousness mixed with excitement that the memories really stick. We were filming in the most gorgeous school which felt as though it was Hogwarts 2.0, and I remember myself and my on-screen brother Asher Flowers giving the whole crew high fives which really put us both at ease.
What was the auditioning process like?
The audition process was quite exciting as every time I was given more of the script and so able to get deeper into the mindset of the character. The casting director spent a lot of time with me, so I felt really able to give a relaxed and natural performance in the audition – which is what they were going for. I met with the director for the final audition and he invited my mum into the room as well to explain the storylines and how they would be filmed so she knew I’d be okay on set.
How long after the audition was it before your first day of filming as Emma?
About two months or so.
Who was your character Nell in Dickensian?
Nell, who was from Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, worked in said shop with her Grandfather and was smitten over A Christmas Carol’s Peter Cratchit. She was a very sweet character but what I really liked most about her was that she wouldn’t let people abuse that good nature.
Where was the series filmed?
The series was filmed in London, on a set built specially. It was really cool. The crew went into such detail, many of the props used were actual antiques from the Victorian era. I had to be really careful not to break anything!
How long were you filming for?
The production ran for about five months and I was filming for about four of those months. It was set over the Christmas period but we shot over the summer so I had to be careful about staying out of the sun as the makeup team didn’t want me looking like I had a tan.
What was it like filming your role of Chanelle in The Dumping Ground?
The Story of Tracy Beaker was a huge part of my childhood and so being a part of the spin-off was a fangirl moment for me – I tried my best to keep my cool though which I think was where I really had to bring out the acting chops. I really enjoyed immersing myself into the character and into what truly was a sweet storyline between the two characters.
How was it acting alongside Miles Butler-Hughton and the rest of the cast?
I was so lucky to work alongside Miles as, not only was he a great actor and so I could really learn from him and react naturally during the scenes, but he was also so kind, putting me at ease and welcome me into the Dumping Ground family.
Did you know much about the show before your episode?
Yes, I was a huge fan!
Can you tell us about your episode of Uncle, in which you played Willow?
I was still quite new to acting when I filmed Uncle, and so not only was it a very fun experience, but also one where I learned a lot about the behind the scenes of it all and really ensuring that I understood my character and her intentions. The script was absolutely hilarious and so it was awesome seeing it being brought to life, and the cast and crew were all very lovely and welcoming.
Have you done any stage shows, and would you like to do any in the future?
Yes! When I was ten, I played Young Nala in The Lion King in the West End, I absolutely loved it. I would definitely love to do more stage roles in the future as I think there is something so beautiful about having that experience with an audience where they really get to feel and understand the emotions a character is going through as it is happening right in front of them, and that excitement that anything could happen.
How did your acting career start?
I actually began in a musical when I was a bit younger, which was a lot more focused on the dance and singing aspect. When I came out of it I realised that I wanted to try and focus more on the acting and so joined an agency and it began from there.
Have you trained in acting?
I used to attend a Saturday school which did have a drama class but I’ve never had any professional training in acting.
Do you have any projects you are working on at the moment or have coming up?
Unfortunately, I’ve had to take a bit of a break from acting as I was taking my GCSEs and had to really get my head down with the studying. Now those are finished, I hope to really focus on acting and getting myself out there for as many auditions and new experiences as possible!