This year, Lashay Anderson was seen in her first lead character role of Clara in the BBC iPlayer show Rebel Cheer Squad – A Get Even Series, which is set to be released internationally on Netflix in the coming months. Lashay has short film experience, having appeared in Promised Land and the not-yet-released A Short Film About Longing, where she will be playing Sian. Whilst training at Rose Bruford College, Lashay performed in a number of stage shows including Boudica and Blank by Alice Birch, and she has also received training from Nottingham Television Workshop. We recently spoke to Lashay about filming Rebel Cheer Squad, having Clara as her first lead character in a series and training at Rose Bruford College.
What was Clara like to play in Rebel Cheer Squad – A Get Even Series and how was it filming as the character?
Clara is so focused on taking care of her loved ones, protecting those around and making sure everyone is okay that she forgets to take care of the most important person, herself. A lot of the time she puts everyone before herself but it doesn’t always work out for her. In the series she realises it’s a balance between taking care of herself whilst being aware of the others around her. I think I was going through a similar journey at the time which allowed me to really relate to Clara and empathise with her.
Clara is strong and caring, I see a lot of my younger self in her.
How much did you know about the Get Even franchise before booking your role and what was it like reading the script for the first time?
I knew about the franchise because it had some actors from the Nottingham Television Workshop, which I graduated from a few years ago.
I was really intrigued to read the script for the first time and see what this new DGM had in store and really get stuck into the journey of the character.
Do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked your first lead character in a TV series?
Ecstatic! I was coming to the end of my final year in drama school and it felt like all the hard work had paid off. I was so excited to meet the cast and have an amazing summer filming.
Was there anything you enjoyed most about being part of the cast and working on the recent release?
Spending time with the cast was the most incredible experience and I feel so lucky to not just call them friends but family. Myself and Renee Bailey, who plays Leila (Clara’s sister), bonded so quickly, it’s almost like she’s become my actual sister. I was filming every single day and for long hours but always looked forward to coming back to the hotel, hanging out with the cast, going bowling, watching a film, whatever, it was just being around such a supportive group of wholesome people. I hope to work with every single one of them again.
How was it seeing the viewers’ response to the show and what are you looking forward to for the show being released on Netflix later this year?
It was really uplifting to see the viewers’ response, because you work so hard on something and have no idea how it will be received. But the franchise already has a really lovely supportive fanbase.
The Netflix release is another opportunity for more people to see the show, especially internationally!
Why would you recommend watching the series and who do you think it will appeal to?
Firstly, if you love shows about sisterhood and positive female empowerment, I would highly recommend this show.
I think the show will appeal to everyone, which is why it’s so wonderful. Especially as the show deals with subject matters around the LGBTQIA+ community. I hope it provides representation for that community and allows a feeling of uplift and inspiration.
What can you tell us about the short film A Very Short Film About Longing and about your character Sian?
It hasn’t actually been released yet so I won’t say too much but I will say it was such an incredible experience to work with the director/writer and my fellow actors. The character is incredibly relatable and intuitive, struck by love, it’s like she’s living in her own Jane Austen story whilst figuring out who she is.
You worked on the short film Promised Land, what was this like?
Promised Land is a series of archive footage from immigrants living in Britain, with a verbatim style of performance. It was really interesting being able to perform true stories and portray multiple characters.
Was there anything that encouraged you to train at Rose Bruford College and how was your time there?
My drama teacher in college actually suggested I should apply to Rose Bruford, she really looked out for me, so I trusted her and I’m so glad I did. Rose Bruford gave me the toolset to hone my craft as an actor, which is essentially why I wanted to train. Drama school is such a personal and individual experience, you really have to take the things you find useful.
Whilst training, you performed in a number of stage shows including Boudica and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, can you tell us about some of them?
There’s nothing in this world that fuels actors more than Shakespeare, I absolutely adore it. Tristan Bernays, who wrote Boudica, is heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s works, also in that show I really got to focus on developing my stage combat, which was really fun. I’d say my favourite show I did at Bruford was a production of Blank by Alice Birch, I think she’s an incredible writer, so profoundly honest and relatable. I was able to play a variety of characters in quite some difficult situations, I developed a level of empathy for each character I’d never quite experienced before. I really felt like all my training had built up to that show and I felt so confident each night in performance.
In 2017, you were part of the Nottingham Television Workshop stage show Primadonna, and The Power of Darkness the following year, what were these like to do?
When I look back at those shows I really miss them because those were my final years at Workshop. They were always so much fun because everyone was so lovely and incredibly passionate about getting the most out of their time there. My peers really were constant inspiration and drive, I saw some of the most incredible performances at Workshop and such gifted actors, I wanted to be on their level and watching them really was fuel.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
On my eighth birthday, my dad took me to my first ever acting class, it was a bit of a rogue decision for a birthday but I went along. I was an incredibly quiet kid, I didn’t even know how to hold a conversation, let alone be on a stage. But when I performed, I wasn’t me, I wasn’t the nervous anxious little girl, I was free and confident and had found a voice that boomed. Every time I went to class for a couple of hours, I could be anyone and say anything, make a fool out of myself, make mistakes and learn from them. I was terrified, don’t get me wrong, and I didn’t know how to socialise with anyone but what I could do was perform. And in that, somewhere, I realised that when I performed, I wasn’t letting go of myself but I was embracing the most authentic version of myself, a self that wasn’t worried or fearful or driven by overthinking. My love of acting comes from a love of being, learning to embrace and love your authentic self and leaning towards presence. What makes you unique as an actor is the beauty of you, and that way, I don’t feel like I play characters, I’m just being me within the circumstances of the character. In those realisations, I understood I had a prophecy to fulfil.
Do you have any favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
My favourite films are the Before Sunrise trilogy. There aren’t any major events, it’s just two people having one long conversation and you never want it to end. I think we’ve all experienced that with a loved one. I love anything romantic, I’m soppy like that. For TV, hands down Season 1 of Westworld is one of the best shows. My favourite theatre show is Yerma, it broke my heart.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love spending time with loved ones, making new experiences and memories. I enjoy exercising, especially running and yoga and I love cooking, I pride myself on my chef skills. I’ve recently got back into dance, which is really freeing. Honestly, for me, when I’m acting, it’s not work, it’s another love and passion in my life. I see acting as being a relationship, when I’m away from it I miss it and when it’s too much I need some space but we’ll always be there for each other because there’s a love and respect, on both sides.
What are you hoping 2022 brings for your career?
I’m manifesting and demanding that 2022 brings me opportunities to create profoundly beautiful and challenging art.
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