Most recently, Ruby Thompson was cast in the role of Caela in the long-running ITV soap Emmerdale for the storyline which featured regular character April getting bullied with Ruby working closely with her as well as characters Annabel, Cathy and Heath. Ruby has previously worked on CBBC’s Step Up to the Plate where she learnt to be part of the front of house team in a restaurant and played Laura in the award-winning film Homeless Ashes. Over the years, Ruby has worked on a number of short films, including an upcoming film by Laura Ellen Wilson, In Bluebell Wood, in which Ruby worked alongside her sister Abigail, and she’s filmed commercials such as Heinz Beanz and Barnado’s, which is not yet released. We caught up with Ruby about her time playing Caela in Emmerdale, working on the storyline of April getting bullied and filming CBBC’s Step Up to the Plate.
How was it booking the role of Caela in Emmerdale and what was it like going on set for the first time?
I first found out when my mum told me in the car after school and at first I didn’t believe her, but once it sunk in I was so happy and excited. I was so thankful to my agent Andrea and the casting directors Ezra and Faye for giving me this opportunity. Emmerdale village is amazing and so beautiful, set on The Harewood Estate near Leeds. It was surreal being there.
What was the character like to play and how did you prepare for the role?
The character Caela is completely different to me, she is a bit of a chav, a bit nasty and a bully. I drew my character of Caela from my own experiences at school of being bullied. When I got the script I started to learn the lines straight away until I knew them off by heart.
Can you tell us about your episodes and how did you find the experience working on a long-running soap?
The storyline has been about April getting bullied by an online troll. It’s a very important storyline for Emmerdale to cover and I’m sure it will have raised awareness and helped other kids in a similar situation.
In the first episode, I was with my friend Annabel (Iyla McKaig), we were on our phones on the way to the bus stop reading messages on the troll account aimed at April (Amelia Flanagan) and finding them amusing when we bumped into her, Cathy (Gabrielle Dowling) and Heath (Sebastian Dowling) came along, and Cathy tried to stand up for April because Caela was being a bit mean to her.
The second episode – April had sent Caela a message encouraged by Cathy to ‘step off or else’ and Caela wanted to meet up so April, encouraged by Cathy again, went along with meeting up with her. I turned up with Annabel and, after a verbal confrontation, we told April we hadn’t set any of the accounts up and were just going along with it because it was a ‘laugh’, and then we stormed off.
It was just the best experience ever, it was so much fun and very fast-paced filming-wise. We were lucky enough to have two great directors directing us, Reece Dinsdale and Miguel Guerreiro.
Do you have any favourite memories from your time filming Emmerdale?
Again, just being on the set was so surreal, my mum watches Emmerdale and she got to chaperone me so it was nice to see the set at Emmerdale village together. Everyone at Emmerdale were so welcoming and friendly and I loved working with Amelia, Gabrielle, Sebastian and Iyla.
What was CBBC Step Up to the Plate like to be part of and what encouraged you to work on the show?
Step Up to the Plate was a lot of fun and I learnt a lot about working front of house in a restaurant. I asked my mum if she could apply for me as I was up for the challenge and trying something new. I had watched the first series and enjoyed it.
Can you tell us what you remember most from being in the cast?
Sitting in the green room and chatting with the other contestants. I worked Front of House taking orders and giving them to the kitchen and then I would serve the food and drinks. It was very hard work but a lot of fun at the same time. I was happy for my friend Sunni, who went on to the next round.
How did you find the experience playing Laura in the award-winning film Homeless Ashes?
It was great, it was the middle of summer and a boiling, sunny day and they had a Christmas tree and decorations up in the front room for filming! The film is based around homelessness, and this is close to my heart as I used to go to drama in Manchester city centre and it would upset me to see people living on the streets with no home so I was glad to be a part of this film raising awareness of homelessness.
What was it like working with the cast which included your on-screen father Lew Temple?
I got to work with Nadia Lamin, who was really nice, and I was cast as Marc Zammit, the director and who also played Frankie, who the filmed is based on, could see me playing Lew’s daughter. Lew is so friendly, a true Texan, and I remember him playing with me in the garden and I loved his accent.
You’ve been part of a number of short films, can you tell us about some of them?
I started off doing student films to gain experience and get footage for a showreel. I’ve also been in some indie films where I’ve played roles like a bully and a zombie. Most recently, I’ve been in a short film that has won many awards for its script called In Bluebell Wood. Written by Laura Ellen Wilson, also directed by Laura and Laura Saxon. It’s based on a girl called Emma who goes away on a camping trip with The Explorers and they become estranged in a world of folklore where they find fairies and other mythical creatures really do exist. It was a lot of fun to do as I got to film it with my little sister Abigail Thompson and we made a ton of friends and got to stay up late on a night shoot.
What are commercials like to work on and which have you done?
I was in the Heinz Beanz commercial in 2019 where I got to play the trombone and I’ve also done a voiceover for a Barnardo’s TV campaign advert about child grooming which hasn’t aired yet.
Have you always wanted to be an actor and how did you start?
My mum always tells me the story of how parents at school would say that she needed to get me into acting because I was so confident and loud. So, my mum thought ‘why not?’ and enrolled me into drama classes. Then she applied to Andrea Price Management for me and Andrea took me onto her books and within weeks I was getting castings which are so much fun. I feel so lucky to have Andrea as my agent as she works so hard to get me the amazing opportunities I’ve had so far.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch?
Loki because I love Tom Hiddleston, Stranger Things is just amazing, the USA version of The Office, any Marvel films especially Doctor Strange. I love Voltron: Legendary Defender, The Umbrella Academy and lots of Anime like Re:Zero – Starting Life In Another World.
During the pandemic, you sang with Virtually Together Kids Choir, what was this like to do?
It was a lot of fun during lockdown, everyone in the choir would decide on a song, a band called Random Cow recorded all the backing tracks for us and we’d be given our own lines to sing which we would record. It would all be put together by a team of amazing people that took time out for us. Then we would post it out on YouTube and social media platforms. The best bit was the friends I made in the other choir members who are all under sixteen, and my mum made a lot of friends in all their mums who she’s still in touch with now.
Can you tell us about your training in acting and music?
I’ve always enjoyed drama classes. I’ve been a member of Oldham Theatre Workshop and David Johnson Drama in Manchester. Most recently before lockdown I was going to Jade McCabe’s Screenplay school at Media City which I’ve attended since 2018 and I’ve really learnt a lot off Jade, who is also a Casting Director, and the older teens in the class.
Music has been a part of my life since I was eight and I learnt to play the trombone at school and played in the school band. Now I’m learning piano and guitar and I’ve self-taught how to play the ukulele. I also sing and enjoy singing in the school choir, I also wrote and composed my own song called Paradise over lockdown.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I really enjoy art, going to the park with my mates, I enjoy doing makeup and listening to music.
What are you hoping the rest of 2021 brings you?
I’d really like to book another role before the end of 2021, like a featured role or main character. That would really mean a lot to me.