Child actress Jayda Eyles can currently be seen playing a main role in new FX/Sky One TV series Breeders, with new episodes released in the UK on Thursdays at 10pm. Jayda plays four-year-old Ava Worsley, daughter of Paul (Martin Freeman) and Ally (Daisy Haggard) in the comedy about family life and parenthood. Last year, Jayda made her television debut in ITV drama A Confession as Chelsea Edwards alongside Imelda Staunton and Darcy Vanhinsbergh, and she was seen on TV over Christmas in the Lidl advert. We recently spoke to Jayda about filming for Breeders, her TV debut in A Confession and the Lidl Christmas commercial.
How did you feel booking the role of Ava Worsley in the new comedy series, Breeders?
Well, this happened twice! I had to cast for the pilot and then again when the show was going ahead for a series. The first time I wasn’t really sure of what it all meant as I was not yet four years old and had never filmed anything before, but when I had been confirmed a year later for the actual series, I was very excited as it meant I got to see everyone who did the pilot again, and I had really missed George (who played my screen brother Luke).
How would you describe Ava?
She is kind of naughty and ‘jumpy’, as in she has lots of energy and is all over the place, she is cheeky too, a lot like me!
What was it like working with your screen family, Martin Freeman, Daisy Haggard and George Wakeman?
I was kind of scared at first and a little shy as there were a lot of people around and it was a really busy set, but as we had filmed the pilot together and met before filming started to rehearse it was like getting to know everyone again and everyone was really friendly and helped me, it was really good fun. Martin and Daisy were very kind, but were also very busy.
I spent most of my time on and off set with George, we became very close, like real brother and sister. We had lots of fun together (as well as the odd argument), but we also made up quickly too! Our close friendship helped on the long shoot and odd days away from home as I missed my real big brother who is the same age as George.
How was it learning your script/role?
As I was just starting to learn to read at the time, my mummy would read through the scenes with me and then go through each line and we would talk about what was happening in the scene and how Ava may be feeling. We usually did this the night before or when we knew what scenes were to be filmed next as I could pick up the lines quite quickly, but she would also say if I had any questions, to ask Chris or Ben (the directors) as to how they may want the scene to be done and to listen to them. She would give me a basic outline and then Chris or Ben would add bits if needed or how they wanted Ava to react.
How long were you filming and how did you spend your time in between filming scenes?
It was a three-month shoot, so a very busy but exciting time. We spent some nights away from home when on locations that were far away, which were fun as I liked staying in hotels.
Time off set, when not filming or rehearsing, was mainly spent with an on set tutor, as I was away from my school for most of the shoot, I had to keep up with lessons. A mini classroom was set up for George and me so we had to make sure our school times were done, and when we had breaks from that, we would often sit in our dressing rooms on our iPads to chill or do some colouring or play games.
We were also lucky when we were on the House Set location, which was an old cereal factory warehouse, as Martin liked to play ping pong to chill out too, so we had a ping pong table set up in the main area. So, when we had a chance, we would play, I tried to learn and got better, but not as good as Martin. Martin also liked cups of tea, so when we weren’t in our own dressing rooms and just relaxing off set, he would sometimes have a cup of tea to relax and take time out and I would usually plonk myself next to him and eagerly show him what games I was playing on Mummy’s mobile phone.
What’s it like seeing yourself on posters and billboards here and in America?
It was funny as this was actually my second billboard poster in a short space of time, I was amazed at the sizes of the ones in America though, they are huge!
How do you think your family will react to seeing you as Ava?
I think they will laugh as Ava is a bit younger than I am so she does and says things that are a bit silly but fun and sometimes wears mixed up outfits. Even though they know I am a bit mad (I am often called Looney Tunes), I could get away with acting a bit more crazy as Ava than I am in real life.
What do you remember from your time on set of A Confession?
It was very different to Breeders and the scenes were more serious. Imelda Staunton and Darcy Vanhinsbergh who played my grandmother and father were lovely, they did their best to entertain me on set, although the scenes were sad for Imelda to play and she had to get herself ready for them, she didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable during the scenes, even though she had to appear to be as her character.
Can you tell us about filming the Lidl 2019 Christmas advert?
I really enjoyed the free improvising and just being able to chat and joke with my screen family whilst they filmed around it all, but my favourite part was when I had to pour the chocolate sauce on the melting pudding house (I love chocolate sauce), as I don’t usually get allowed to do that at home as I would make a mess everywhere, but they let me pour it lots of times and there wasn’t (much) mess! It also had me looking forward to Christmas earlier than usual! Then when I saw the billboards for the first time I couldn’t believe it. I had never been on one before, so when we found one, I just had to have a photo with it!
What do you enjoy most about acting?
I love meeting new people, being on set and learning new things and experiences. I was very lucky to have filmed a commercial abroad at the beginning of this year, so I had the chance to fly (which I had never done before) to Switzerland and spend three days there, the highlight being part of the shoot was in a zoo, where I got to see a swimming elephant really close up!
Do you have a favourite TV show or film?
I have a few, I like Paw Patrol, Boss Baby, PJ Masks and my favourite film is Wreck-It Ralph 2 – Ralph Breaks the Internet, I really like Matilda too.
What plans do you have for the next few months?
There are things being discussed and some more commercials and stills shoots that have been filmed but not out yet, so I am looking forward to seeing those released, and as with all actors, I will be back to casting and reading for the next ‘thing’, so we shall see what lies in store, but all I know is I am having so much fun and I can’t wait for the next project!
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