From 2nd June, Danielle Henry will be in the cast of After Life at the National Theatre, which will be running until the 24th July, and during the pandemic, she played Adriana in The Comedy of Errors at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre which was the first show to open after the first lockdown. Before the pandemic closed theatres around the world, Danielle had been rehearsing for Say Yes To Tess at Leeds Playhouse, a show she has been involved with since the workshops, and amongst her other theatre credits, she has been in the casts of My Brilliant Friend at the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Christmas Carol, and has worked on a number of productions for Storyhouse Chester. Most recently on screen, Danielle played Miss Oliver in My Mum Tracy Beaker, and her other roles have included playing Mandy Marquez in Doctors, Sally-Ann in Candy Cabs, having her first regular character of Latisha Daggert in Emmerdale, and last year, she was in the livestreamed episode of The Third Day: Autumn, which has been nominated for a BAFTA. Danielle answers our questions about her upcoming production of After Life, being involved with Say Yes To Tess and playing Miss Oliver in My Mum Tracy Beaker.
You have been announced for After Life at the National Theatre, due to commence in June, what can you tell us about this?
It’s very exciting being one of the first shows back. I think it will be a bit emotional the night we open. The play is very moving, it’s about what happens to you after you pass away, it’s a beautiful take on the idea.
During the pandemic, you played Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, what was it like returning to theatre and playing the role?
It was the first open air show to open after the first lockdown. I had so much fun doing it. We had tears from the audience our first night.
Before COVID closed theatres, you had been in rehearsals for Say Yes To Tess at Leeds Playhouse, how had this been going and what were you most looking forward to for opening?
I can’t wait to come back and do Say Yes To Tess. I did most of the workshops for it and was over the moon when I was asked to be in the production. The plan is to bring it back next spring.
What did you enjoy most about working at the National Theatre in My Brilliant Friend?
It was my first time at the National and I feel so fortunate to have been part of such a generous hardworking company. It was two plays, so five-and-a-half hours worth of story. It was very ensemble so we were all kept very busy!
In 2018, you performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company for their run of A Christmas Carol, can you tell us about being in the show?
I absolutely loved doing A Christmas Carol. I got to play lots of different, larger than life characters, including the Ghost of Christmas Present with the quickest quick change ever known!
You’ve performed in a number of productions at Storyhouse Chester, what is it like being part of their shows?
I love working in Chester. I have a lot of respect for the artistic director Alex Clifton, I love that he’s making incredible theatre with talented actors but keeping a root in the North West.
How was it playing Miss Oliver in My Mum Tracy Beaker for CBBC and was there anything that drew you to the script?
I think my favourite part of Tracy Beaker was working with Lisa Coleman, who played Cam. She is such a professional, and has obviously been part of the Beaker story from the beginning so I learned so much from watching her. It was fun to be part of such an established TV show.
What was it like working on this show and hearing the success of the new Tracy Beaker series?
I think its success is so well-deserved. Everyone worked so hard on it and I think it did a really good job of satisfying the hardcore fans but it also reached out to a new generation of fans of the show.
You played Miss Hodge in another CBBC show Katy, how was it?
I worked with the same director on Katy as on Tracy Beaker. I never thought I’d end up playing a PE teacher but this job is full of surprises!
Can you tell us about being involved with The Third Day: Autumn?
The Third Day live episode is up for a BAFTA. Everyone involved worked so hard on it. We were all sent to an island off the coast of Essex to work on a twelve-hour livestreamed episode of the series. I’ve never worked on anything like it before. It was really well-received.
In 2012, you joined the cast of Doctors as Mandy Marquez, what are some of your highlights from playing the character?
There’s a lot to choose from after spending two-and-a-half years there. Working with Lu Corfield, who is one of my favourite actors and a very good friend, was certainly a highlight.
What was it like leaving the show in 2014 after spending a few years in the role?
It’s always scary leaving something familiar, but I was ready to go, and I look back on my time there really fondly. It’s full of such lovely people, many of whom I’m still in touch with.
The comedy drama Candy Cabs was released on BBC One in 2011, what was the show like to be part of as Sally-Ann?
It was good to be part of an all-female led cast. I really enjoyed driving the bright pink taxis!
Do you have any favourite memories from your time playing Latisha Daggert in Emmerdale, which marked your first regular on-screen character?
I learned so much about doing telly from doing that show. I was able to take so many lessons from it. It feels so long ago now though!
Can you say about some of the other stage and screen roles you’ve been involved with which have included Votes for Women and Moving On?
I feel really fortunate to have been able to have a real mix of disciplines over the years. Doing telly is so different than doing theatre. I’m so grateful I’ve been able to do so much of both over the years but you never stop learning. I think that’s one of my favourite things about the job.
How different do you find working on a radio show and what is it like being part of the BBC Radio 4 series Stone?
I love doing radio. No one can see what you look like so it gives you the freedom to play anyone or anything! It’s usually an opportunity to try out some different accents too, as you’re often playing multiple roles.
Where does your love of acting come from and is it something you always wanted to do?
I think I knew I always wanted to be a performer of some sort. When I first started out I thought I wanted to be a dancer but changed my mind when I started to apply for drama schools. I feel very fortunate to have a job that I love.
Do you have any favourite films, TV or theatre shows to watch and what are you most looking forward to for the industry fully reopening?
I have really missed live performance, it’s so exciting seeing things reopen. I think one of the best things I’ve seen on TV recently is an American show called Succession. I think it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen. The writing and acting is incredible.