Halle Cassell

📷 : John Clark

During the pandemic, Halle filmed her first regular screen role when she joined the cast of the popular CBBC drama The Dumping Ground playing new character Clem, with the series airing earlier this year. Halle’s other TV work has seen her film episodes of Casualty as Primrose Carrow and Motherland, which was her first role back since the pandemic started. Having made her West End debut as Lavender in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical in 2017, Halle went on to appear in Macbeth at Barbican Theatre and, last year, she played Young Luisa in Luisa Miller for the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. Halle continues her training with both Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she attends full time, and DMA London with Dominique Moore. With her love of music, Halle released her debut single Fly last year and also her second single See The World, which she released in October, and had the single played on BBC Radio Leicester. Recently answering our questions, Halle talks about joining the cast of The Dumping Ground as Clem, playing Young Luisa in English National Opera’s Luisa Miller and releasing her own music.

How did it feel booking your role of Clem in CBBC show The Dumping Ground and can you tell us about the character?

I was on my way home from school and I got in the car. Both of my brothers and my mum were in the car. I just remember thinking “why is everyone in the car” because usually it’s just me and my mum. On top of that, everyone was acting weird and smiling but not saying anything then my mum got a call. She handed me the phone and it was my agent, Julie. She told me I got the job. I was speechless. I couldn’t speak and I didn’t know what to say. I just kept saying “oh my god” over and over again. Before I knew it, I had started filming. Clem is such an amazing and fun character to play. She’s always busy and up to something. She’s very mischievous, funny, cool and intelligent. She isn’t used to care homes like Ashdene Ridge where everyone gets along, so she finds it hard to navigate her way at first, hence why she keeps a notebook. She guards herself with a troublemaking and laid-back exterior but inside she is kind and has a pure heart.

Was there anything that drew you to the show and were you familiar with The Dumping Ground before being cast?

When I was younger I used to watch CBBC all the time, before and after school. Tracy Beaker and The Dumping Ground were shown a lot. The Dumping Ground was one of the main shows I used to watch on CBBC. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be in it. If you told eight-year-old Halle that she would be in The Dumping Ground, she would think you were lying.

📷 : BBC

What was your first day on set like and how was it meeting the rest of the cast for the first time?

The last time I had been on a TV set, with a major storyline, was over a year before The Dumping Ground, so all the nostalgia and memories of being on set were running back to me. When I had my first scene I was kind of freaking out but also so excited, happy and ready. It was great. We don’t film scenes in order but funnily enough my first scene I filmed was my first scene in the whole show, so the emotions of starting something new were all real! My first few times on set I didn’t say a word. I was so quiet. Just taking everything in. I’m quiet when I come to any new space because I like to observe first. Everyone thought I was genuinely a quiet person, little did they know I would be so loud and crazy! When I first joined, everyone was so welcoming and lovely. Honestly the most down to earth people ever. At first I couldn’t understand a word of what anyone was saying because of their Geordie accent but I got used to it! Joining a show with so many cast members sounds very daunting but they all made it so easy for me.

How are you finding the experience working on a CBBC drama as your first regular screen role?

I’m having so much fun. All the different storylines are so exciting and the things that Clem says are so wacky, it’s hilarious. One of the great new things I am experiencing on this show is working with various different directors. It’s so interesting to see the different ways they work and how their style comes across on screen. Being on set almost every day for five months during a global pandemic was a life-changing experience. We had to film two meters apart and had to wear visors and masks on set. At first it felt weird being so far apart from everyone but soon I got used to it. I still managed to have the best time even though there were so many COVID restrictions!

📷 : BBC

What are you enjoying most about playing Clem and being part of the cast?

Clem is a very enjoyable character to play. She is so cheeky and the little comments she says makes me laugh. I love everything about playing Clem. As well as filming I also enjoyed the downtime and getting to know all the other cast members. We had lots of fun together when we weren’t filming. One of highlights was dancing around to Bruno Mars and Dancing Queen. Genuinely the best time. Meeting so many new people at once who all have very different distinct personalities was so refreshing.

We understand you filmed an episode of this year’s series of Motherland, what was it like to do?

It was so crazy to film Motherland. I always watch the show with my mum and we both love it. It was so cool to know that I would be in it and get to meet the cast. They are all such great actors and I admire their work. Watching them perform right in front of me didn’t feel real. I’d only ever seen them on TV! It was such an amazing and insightful opportunity to learn from great actors. Motherland was also my first time back on set after COVID started, so it was really inspiring to see things continue to move in the TV and film industry.

Can you tell us about appearing in Casualty as Primrose Carrow?

Casualty was my first ever TV role. It was the start of my TV journey. Going on set for the first time was so interesting. I just remember thinking “this hospital is very cool”. I had only ever seen pictures of a TV set and heard people talk about it, but I had never experienced it first hand. It was so magical. I had so much fun bringing Primrose to life. Primrose is a fiery and strong-willed character who is very passionate about wildlife. She’s so passionate that she shot her own brother in the butt when he nearly harmed a pigeon. It’s such a good story. I really had the best time.

📷 : BBC

Last year, you appeared in Luisa Miller with English National Opera, how was the experience?

It was incredible to perform in an opera. I knew barely anything about opera before I was in Luisa Miller. I never realised how amazing opera is. Luisa Miller was an amazing story to be told. It was very cleverly directed. The images created, the tension, the drama, not to mention the incredible sound – it was all amazing. It was also a pleasure to perform in such a beautiful theatre – the London Coliseum. I learned so many new things working on that show. It was a completely new experience and I loved it.

What was it like playing Young Luisa at the London Coliseum?

I played Young Luisa Miller and was portraying a sort of childhood memory. I was the happy and youthful memory of Luisa. Later on in the opera, Luisa becomes very unhappy due to tragic events that took place. The contrast between Luisa and her younger self was a genius image that I was grateful to be a part of.

📷 : BBC

How was it being part of Macbeth at London’s Barbican Theatre?

I can’t believe I’ve been in a Shakespeare play! At the time I didn’t realise how cool that was. All of the actors in that production were incredible. To work with them every night was unreal. The atmosphere and energy in the theatre was always unbeatable. I played the First Witch in Macbeth. It was so fun to play a creepy character as it’s something I’d never done before. Playing around and being scary was the best. The cast were so nice. I made amazing friends that I still talk to now.

You made your West End debut as Lavender in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical, what are some of your favourite memories from your time in the show?

Rehearsing for the show and getting to know everyone was the best. Learning all the songs, dances and scenes was stressful but really fun at the same time. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical was an amazing show to be my West End debut. I learned loads and met so many new people. One of my favourite memories was performing Lavender’s monologue every show in front of a massive audience. The reactions and laughs were so rewarding and exhilarating. Every time I stepped out of the theatre, after a show, I was so happy.

📷 : BBC

What was the cast like to be part of and how was it performing in the West End?

It was an amazing time to be around kids that have the same passion as me, as well as being in a West End show with them. I made amazing friends. Performing in a West End theatre is indescribable. Nothing beats the feeling. The excitement and adrenaline comes to every single show. It never ever gets boring. Having a live audience to react and respond is incredible. Although I am doing screenwork at the moment, my love for theatre will always be with me.

Had you always wanted an acting career and how did you start?

I’ve had music around me my entire life. My dad is a drummer and music producer, my brother does the same and my other brother is a rapper. I started off with dance. I love dance and have always loved it. I joined a local stage school when I was five to start hip hop classes. I really enjoyed it. My discovery of musical theatre, tap, jazz and singing followed. I didn’t really consider acting until I was a bit older. I realised that I loved it. I love telling other people’s stories and bringing things to life. When I was little I was a very shy girl. I never spoke but I’d go on stage and dance or sing for the school talent show. Dancing, singing and acting has always been a way for me to express my feelings and that’s why I love it so much. My dance teacher, Claire Marsh, saw that I had something in me and got me the role of Little Tegan Recks in the short film We All Start Somewhere. That’s where my acting journey began. Acting helped me find myself and gain confidence. Learning more about different characters and feelings made me learn more about myself. When acting, you have to allow yourself to be completely vulnerable and that’s the main reason why it helped me gain confidence. I think that TV and film are so important to the world. It tells stories that need to be heard.

📷 : BBC

Do you have any favourite TV, films or theatre shows to watch?

My favourite musical is Hairspray. The songs are so catchy and the story is really important. I am in love with all the Marvel films and series. Loki is my favourite Marvel series so far. I love Loki’s character and I think he’s fascinating to watch. My favourite film of all time is The Princess and the Frog. I used to watch it when I was little and it has always inspired me to never give up. Another one of my favourite films is Rocks. It’s an incredible story and the acting was amazing. My favourite play is Emilia. It’s such an empowering and educational story. I’m so glad that it made it to the theatre.

Can you say about your debut single Fly and how did your music career come about?

I’ve always loved to sing. I sing all the time and it drives my family crazy! I’ve always been influenced by music. Music is like therapy to me. I could listen to music all day long. My dad is a musician and produces songs. One day he produced a song for me and asked songwriters that he knows to write a song for me. I was so lucky to have Alison Grant and Deacon Ryan Henry write a tune for me. I love it. It was my first ever song so I was really excited when it was finally released.

📷 : BBC

You released your second single See The World in October, how has it been seeing the listeners’ response to your music and having the single played on BBC Radio Leicester?

The amount of times my friends have made puns about “seeing the world” is too funny. Watching people enjoy my music is the best thing ever. It makes me so happy. Having my song played on Uncle Frank’s show was so cool. I can’t believe my song has played on the radio. It’s crazy.

What do you enjoy doing away from your career and can you tell us about your training?

Away from my career, I love to watch TV and read. I’m currently reading The Color Purple. It’s great so far. I also go to dance classes with friends which is really fun. My favourite thing to do ever is listen to music. I love R&B, hip hop, rare groove, dancehall and soul music. I could sit down for hours listening to music and never get bored. As well as acting I’m also interested in script writing and directing. In my free time I write a lot of random scenes and monologues. I’m currently writing a short film and hope to develop it in the future. I train at Sylvia Young Theatre School full time and DMA London. At Sylvia Young I train in acting, singing and dancing as well as academic work. It’s such a privilege to be able to train every week and have the opportunity to improve. At DMA London I learn about various things in the acting industry. I love it. DMA helped me find myself as well as improve my acting skills. I also discovered my love for things behind the camera at DMA with my acting mentor, Dominique Moore. I’m so grateful to have access to training and be able to continuously improve. Most importantly, I get to do what I love all the time!

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