Having trained in acting from the age of four with Famous 4.15, Sarah Rayson booked her first regular role of Floss in the CBBC drama The Dumping Ground (a spin-off to The Story of Tracy Beaker and Tracy Beaker Returns) in 2013, where she’s had chance to develop the character over the years she’s been in the show so far, with the most recent series released earlier this year. Sarah has filmed for the crossover episode of The Dumping Ground and Hetty Feather called Floss the Foundling which aired in 2016 and worked with Tracy Beaker actor Dani Harmer in the episode of Mike’s Wedding. Speaking with Sarah, she tells us about joining the cast of The Dumping Ground as Floss, filming the crossover episode with Hetty Feather and her training with Famous 4.15.
How much did you know about the Tracy Beaker franchise before booking your role of Floss in the spin-off series The Dumping Ground?
When Tracy Beaker Returns first came out I was only about four so I was too young to know what it was, but I had an idea. When I booked the role of Floss I started watching it more and loved it. It helped me get an idea of the role I would be playing even though I was only young!
Can you tell us about Floss and do you share any similarities to her?
Floss is a very cheeky and sarcastic character, she’s definitely someone who likes the
spotlight and getting attention. She isn’t afraid to express who she is with her questionable outfits; I love that about her. The personality she has in good and bad ways portrays her as someone who deep down just wants to be loved. I think I share Floss’ sarcastic and cheeky characteristics as I’m sure many people would describe me as that!
What do you remember most from your first day on set?
My first day on set was nerve-racking! My dad had taken me into the set for the first day, I met everyone in the green room (not actually green by the way!) and they were so welcoming. The thing I remember the most is filming my first scene with Connor Byrne (Mike) who was so patient and helped me understand how everything worked as I was brand new to everything and really understood very little. Connor and Kia (Pegg) played a big part in helping me learn how the set worked and how I could be the best I could be. I appreciate that a lot.
How has it been growing up on set of the show and developing Floss over the years?
Over the years I have developed a love for the industry and the set. Growing up on set for me has been such a learning curve and working alongside amazing actors, actresses and directors means that you have all the help you need to develop your character so it is at the best that it can be. As well as handling school full-time whilst filming (which can be challenging), you get some amazing opportunities, from the people you get to meet and work with to going abroad to film.
Do you have a favourite aspect of playing the character and what are some of your highlights from playing her?
My favourite aspect about playing Floss is that her storylines include all the other
characters. She interacts with all the different kids in the care home which gives me a chance to develop my relationship personally, but also helps me as an actor to develop my skills and allows me to learn and build new aspects of her character with the support of highly-skilled actors and experienced directors.
Can you tell us about filming Floss the Foundling where you got to work on set of Hetty Feather?
That was an experience I will never forget! The whole production of it and the way it was written was what really made me enjoy the crossover. I got to meet all the cast and for me as an actor, like I said previously, the things you can learn from different actors is astounding, even things as little as being able to find your mark better and little skills which you wouldn’t normally think about. They were so welcoming and I had a lot of questions for them as I had watched Hetty Feather before knowing about them wanting to pursue Floss the Foundling.
What was it like seeing some of the previous cast members return to set alongside Dani Harmer (Tracy Beaker) for Mike’s Wedding?
For me, I hadn’t worked with Dani Harmer before but obviously knew she was Tracy Beaker, so I was a little bit starstruck when I first met her. Other than that, I had met all the others who came back, and it was so nice to see them all and for us to all be together again. It was as if we had just seen each other a few weeks back, the atmosphere between us hadn’t changed and everyone got on so well.
What would you say has been your most challenging episode or scene to work on?
My most challenging episode was probably Series 5 Episode 5. Floss had to dance and specifically do ballet. Being at a stage school I had always danced since I was little, but I never imagined that I would have to do it for The Dumping Ground. They got me a ballet teacher who tried his best to teach me and after a lot of groaning and moaning because my feet were hurting, we came up with a short routine for the scene. I’d say that was the most challenging episode physically but mentally I find emotional episodes challenging.
How have you found having Floss as your first regular CBBC role?
As my first role, I think that I have been very lucky to have been asked to return each year to play Floss which I am so grateful for. It means I keep achieving year after year and get to go back to work with amazing people. I continue to appreciate the people I work with daily because of the way I was welcomed and the way I was helped settle into my first regular CBBC role. It couldn’t have been any better!
Have there been any stand-out funny moments from your time filming The Dumping Ground?
There is a lot! On set, me and Louis Payne (Scott) have had a few scenes where it has been
serious but if someone gets a line wrong or even something little goes wrong, it would set us off laughing. There was one time in a scene when I had a line and there was a certain word in it which every time we tried to do it I would start laughing and obviously as professionals you should know when to stop but… we got there in the end! There are so many moments that I could look back on and laugh at but there isn’t one specific moment that I could pinpoint as a stand-out one because they all top each other with how much we’ve laughed and cried.
Is there anything you enjoy most about being part of the cast?
I enjoy the friendships that I have created the most because they are the reason I love going to work every day and they keep me sane even on my worst days! We laugh and we cry, and we get into a little bit of trouble for the laughing sometimes but it’s what makes you feel a part of a family and what brings us all so close together because we have the time to develop those friendships. I enjoy it so much.
Do you have any favourite TV shows and films to watch?
I love a soap! When I got into acting I always wanted to be in EastEnders or Casualty as they were a favourite at home. I love Line of Duty, it’s one of my favourites, and a film I love must
be either The Fallen Series with Gerard Butler or The Devil Wears Prada. I will watch a lot of different things. Me and my mum love binge-watching a reality show but then we also love a movie that you can have a good cry at.
Is acting something you always wanted to do and can you tell us about your training?
From the age of four I went to a theatre school called Famous 4.15 which is the main reason I am a part of The Dumping Ground. I trained every Saturday in singing, dancing, and acting and I still go today for the odd class or just to pop in for a catch-up because the atmosphere is just like being part of a family. Just like I have with The Dumping Ground, I’ve grown up with the people at Famous and especially Katherine, who supports me every day as my agent but also as a close friend, who I appreciate a lot! Hanging out with people you enjoy being around makes the training feel even more fun and the classes help boost your confidence as well as your skills. Famous 4.15 specialise in this with different classes for different ages but everyone grows up feeling supported and learning the things you need to know and benefitting from them.
What do you enjoy doing away from filming The Dumping Ground?
When I am away from filming I mostly enjoy going out with my friends and just catching up. We spend so much time filming, it is hard to see all the people you want to see whilst also juggling school. I like spending time at Famous 4.15 with the people I’ve grown up with but also just chatting with people, hanging out and having fun. I love being at The Dumping Ground, but I also love the time away as it is a rest and normally the time for a holiday!
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