Upcoming projects for Bethany Asher has seen her work on short films Good Grief playing Ella, a woman who loses her baby, and Bebe A.I. opposite George Webster, playing the role of Michaela Venice, and she is also due to film The Cunning as Dolly later this year, with Gemma Arterton playing her mother. Having made her first screen appearance in an episode of Doctors, Bethany has since gone on to film for them again and has worked on the award-winning short film Innocence. Bethany has filmed a number of episodes of CBBC’s The Dumping Ground, where she plays Ivy and works closely with regular character Finn (played by Ruben Reuter). Over lockdown, Bethany was involved in Zoom productions with DANC UK and she has recently joined the National Youth Theatre. Answering our questions, Bethany chats about her upcoming short films Good Grief and Bebe A.I., playing Ivy in The Dumping Ground and being involved with DANC UK.
You’ve recently been filming short film Good Grief, what can you tell us about it?
Good Grief is a short film about four women’s experiences of losing a child. My character Ella loses a baby at seven weeks. It is devastating for her. Vicky McClure also features in the film. The great thing about the film is there is no mention of disability or Down Syndrome. I was cast because of my ability as an actress. There should be more of this. Hopefully casting directors will watch the film and see that it is a positive thing. Rob Sharpe, the director, believed in me and that’s wonderful!
How different have you found working on this project to your previous roles?
I am often cast in younger teenage roles because I’m so small but in Good Grief I was a woman. It was really great as I’m 25 and I would love more adult roles and to be taken seriously as an actress. Rob, the director, said that I had an equal footing with my fellow cast members which is how it should be.
You will be playing Michaela Venice in the upcoming short film Bebe A.I., what was it like on set and working with the cast?
Working on Bebe A.I. was amazing! Everyone was awesome to work with! Amanda Abbington is such a lovely person and, of course, George Webster, who plays my other half Johnny. We filmed in Manchester with director Rebecca Fortune who was a dream to work with. She allowed me to express my character how I wanted to and we even tried some improvisation. I love the way she directs. The writer Alex Wain wrote a great script and the producers were Jo Farrugia and Lewis Faithfull, who were very lovely.
How is it playing Ivy in The Dumping Ground and what have you enjoyed most about working on the CBBC series?
What can I say about Ivy in The Dumping Ground? I absolutely love her! She is a lot like me, I think. She knows what she wants and she goes for it but she is also kind and has lots of love to give. I got to work with an incredible cast. Everyone is so kind. It’s like a family. Every director was lovely but if I had to choose a favourite it would be Sean Glynn. Am I allowed to say that? He’s really cool.
One of the best things was working with Ruben Reuter, who plays Finn. We had so much fun and laughed a lot! I think we had chemistry.
Have you had a favourite scene to film and how much did you know about the show before joining?
My favourite scenes were the Valentine’s Day episode which Sean Glynn directed. It was very romantic. I knew so much about The Dumping Ground before I was cast as Ivy because it was one of my favourite programmes. I’ve watched it since I was seven so it was a dream come true when I got told I would be in it! You cannot imagine! I was dancing around the house and couldn’t stop singing! I felt I knew all the characters really well when I arrived on set for the first day so I wasn’t nervous, just excited!
You have filmed a couple of episodes of Doctors as Darcy Blythe and Kerry Lynsey, can you say more about your episodes?
BBC Doctors was my first acting job. I was Kerry who had lost her mum and her dad was struggling to deal with things. Kerry starts her periods and her mum had left her a special box with instructions in it of what to do. She tries to talk to her dad but he’s always too busy and it upsets her. There’s a very emotional scene with Elisabeth Dermot Walsh who is absolutely lovely. She made it easy for me as she’s so good. My dad was played by Richard Elis who is so funny!!
I was then asked back to Doctors a couple of years later to play a character called Darcy, who is a moody teenager with an attitude! She was fun to do.
Can you tell us about the award-winning short film INNOCENCE that you worked on a few years ago?
It was an honour to be asked to be in award-winning short film INNOCENCE with the fantastic Tommy Jessop. It is about a support worker who falls to his death at a care home. Was it an accident or was he pushed? Ben Reid, who wrote it and directed it, has a brother with Down Syndrome and he was fed up of seeing people with the same condition portrayed as always being sweet and innocent. He is right. As someone with Down Syndrome I want people to know that I am not like that. I get angry, moody, I swear, I have my own opinions too just like every other human on the planet. My mum calls it infantilization. People can be very patronising. This film will hopefully change that.
As a member of DANC UK, you played Katy and Bellie earlier this year online for DANC Writers Showcase, how was this?
DANC UK asked me to be a part of the Writers Showcase during lockdown. It was all done on Zoom and I played two characters. Katy and Josh was written by Laurence Clarke and directed by Hannah Quigley. I played Katy. She meets a boy called Josh and they fall in love and have sex. She doesn’t want her mum finding out. Her mum doesn’t think she is ready for an adult relationship or capable of making adult decisions. This is common for people with Down Syndrome but we have desires like everyone else. The plays were written by disabled writers and performed by disabled and non disabled actors. In the second play I am Bellie, the sister of Trace, and I am a teenager with attitude.
Can you tell us more about DANC UK?
DANC UK is a network for artists with disabilities and it is run by actors Cherylee Houston and Melissa Johns. It is a group which encourages inclusion in the industry. I am part of their focus group and we meet monthly to discuss how we can help change the way the industry looks at things. It includes disabled actors, dancers, singers, musicians, photographers, writers, filmmakers, directors and artists.
What is it like being part of National Youth Theatre and how was it joining?
I’m really looking forward to being a part of the National Youth Theatre. I am so lucky as I know how difficult it is to get in. My brother Isaac is doing it too and it has always been my dream to work with him. I have also been asked to help with research and development for a new play they are working on. George Webster is also helping and we will be heading to London in a couple of weeks for that. It will be fantastic to work with the NYT company and to meet associate director Anna Niland.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
My mum is an acting teacher so I have always loved acting. It must be in my blood. My brother started first and then I said that I’d like to have a go so my mum helped me make that happen. The buzz of being on set, it’s so exciting, and I get to play different characters who are nothing like me! I hadn’t had an agent long before I was cast in BBC Doctors.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love photography and am hoping to get a good camera for my birthday. I like taking nature pictures. I also love reading, especially Harry Potter. I’m a huge fan. I tried horse riding lately and really took to it so I think I will continue that. I also sing all the time. It drives my family mad!
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch?
I love The Dumping Ground, of course! I also enjoy the soaps and am keen to make an appearance in one of them. I really enjoy watching British drama. One of my favourites is INNOCENT with Catherine Kelly. She’s amazing! THE PACT was also excellent. My favourite films are, of course, Harry Potter. I know most of the script!
What are you looking forward to most for the rest of 2021?
There is so much to look forward to in 2021. I’m filming a short film later in the summer called The Cunning with Gemma Arterton who plays my mum. It’s about Witchcraft in the 1800s and my character Dolly is accused of being a witch and they want to kill her and her mum.
My life is AMAZING! I pinch myself every day because I know how lucky I am!
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