On Friday, one of Mia McKenna-Bruce’s most recent projects will be released on Netflix, where she will be seen in the role of Marilka in The Witcher and next year, she will be starring as Bree in new TV series Get Even which will launch on BBC/Netflix. Mia is well-known for her portrayal of Tee Taylor in Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground where she stayed for a number of years before leaving in 2017 with her character proving popular amongst the CBBC viewers. Talking with Mia, she tells us about her time in The Dumping Ground, her short production Watch What I Do and filming for The Rebels.
Earlier this year, you could be seen in the short film Watch What I Do as Nikki, can you tell us about the film and how long were you working on the project?
Watch What I Do is a film that aims to hold up a mirror to society and highlight some of the dangers of social media and gender stereotypes. It’s driven by three strong female leads and addresses issues such as body confidence, body shaming, bullying, the pressure of social media and encourages girls to play sport and stay active.
We did rehearsals and workshopping for the film about a month prior then spent a week on the actual shoot!
How was it having Watch What I Do be nominated at the UK Entertainment Awards?
Having the film recognised by the UK Entertainment Awards means so much as it brings more awareness and support to the issues raised in the film. The team behind the film were also absolutely phenomenal to work with, the creators, UK Fully Focused, create content with so many amazing messages, so it was an honour to work alongside them!
Can you tell us about the other short films you’ve worked on – Hit It and Quit It and 8:30pm Eastern Standard Time?
These were both shot out in LA, which was super fun! Hit It and Quit It was a comedy about a teen girl trying to have one final conversation with her ex. We shot this over four nights, and I spent most of the film drenched in water so I’m glad we were somewhere with a warmer climate than England! It was written and directed by Shelby Farrell, who is insanely talented, and we had so much fun while filming!
8:30 EST was a horror, so something completely different. This story centres around my character, Sarah, who is suffering from depression; from the loss of her mother and the volatile behaviours of her father, who is an alcoholic. Then she finds a supposed solution to lifelong happiness. This one, written and directed by Myles Erfurth, was shot in a day and I loved it because it was so different for me!
What was it like filming as Enica for feature film The Rebels?
The Rebels is actually one of my favourite jobs so far. I got to do some stunt training as there was sword fighting and battle scenes in the movie, Enica was also a super strong female character with a great story behind her, so getting to play her meant a lot to me! It was also filmed on a beautiful location in Wales for around six weeks, and was set in medieval times so the costumes and sets were amazing!
How did you find the experience playing the role of Emily in Cleaning Up?
This was amazing because my little sister in real life was also in Cleaning Up, she played Sheridan’s (Smith) youngest daughter so it was funny/super weird being on set with my sister!
In 2017, you appeared in an episode of comedy series Josh, what was this like to film?
I’ve always been a fan of Josh so it was great to be a part of the show! It was hilarious watching the regular cast, they really are comic geniuses!! The show is directed by David Schneider as well, who is just wonderful!!
You played Tee Taylor in Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground on CBBC for a number of years, how was it leaving the show at the end of 2016?
This was insanely hard. I worked on TBR/TDG for eight years in total so it was obviously a huge, huge part of my life. And I had grown up with the cast and crew of the show, they were like family to me so I spent the entirety of my last day bawling my eyes out, I couldn’t even speak! They brought out champagne and a massive signed photo on my final wrap which just made me even more emotional! I’m so grateful for everything the show gave me, and still miss it to this day!
Is there anything you miss most about playing Tee?
Tee was a huge part of myself. I played her from 11 to 18 so I literally grew up with her and learnt so much playing her throughout my teen years, it was weird for a long time after I left coming to terms with not playing her anymore!
What do you remember from your first TV role as Penny Branning in EastEnders?
I remember being completely starstruck by the whole entire thing, I had watched EastEnders religiously from a young age with my mum so my first scene in the Queen Vic absolutely baffled me!!
Early in your career, you performed in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre, would you like to do more stage work in the future?
YES!!! One million percent!! I’d love to do stage again, the buzz you get on stage is like no other feeling in the world!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
Well, funny story really. I have danced since the age of two so have always been in love with performing. But when I was young, maybe about five/six, I watched Titanic and it absolutely mortified me, I was so upset watching such an awful event and watching people so distressed on screen. I was distraught for weeks, couldn’t sleep or anything, then one day the ‘director’ called my home and asked to speak with me, he explained that it was a TV show and they had filmed everything I had watched. He spoke me through how the filming process worked, about scripts and costume and makeup and lighting etc – I was fascinated so started researching actors and fell in love with Shirley Temple, I watched a documentary on her then recorded it and watched it every day when I got home from school and decided that this is what I wanted to do forever. I then found an ad in the local newspaper for open auditions for Seussical The Musical, my parents agreed to let me audition and it was the first job I booked, everything else just seemed to follow on from there! Also, I only recently found out, the ‘director’ that phoned wasn’t actually James Cameron, but my grandad just pretending to be him – so I guess I have him to thank!!
Do you have a technique for learning scripts?
Not particularly, I’m really lucky that I manage to learn lines pretty quickly. But it’s definitely something that needs practice! If I’m not working, I try to find a script or a book/poem to learn to keep that memory muscle going!!
It’s been announced that you are currently filming for the upcoming BBC/Netflix series Get Even, how do you find the experience of meeting a new cast and crew for the first time?
I am! And I’m really excited about this one!! It’s always slightly scary meeting cast and crew for the first time, meeting new people is always nerve-racking! But it’s exciting at the same time, particularly for a job like this one where we are working away from home for a long period of time, you know you’re all going to become insanely close! Everyone on this show is AMAZING and I’ve met some of my best friends, getting to meet such wonderful people is one of my favourite things about the job!
Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about?
One of the shows I worked on earlier in the year, The Witcher, is being released this week on Netflix, which was something I was super chuffed to work on, the cast and crew blew me away so I can’t wait to see it! The show I’ve most recently been filming (Get Even) is also due to be released February 2020 on Netflix and BBC iPlayer, I can’t say too much about this one though, but it’s not one to miss so keep your eyes peeled!! The Rebels has also just been released on Amazon!
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