Earlier this year, in the return of BBC drama Waterloo Road, Alicia Forde played Kelly-Jo Rafferty throughout the series, which was shown weekly on BBC One, with the released episodes available to watch on iPlayer. Alicia’s character Kelly-Jo was involved in a huge storyline where she was diagnosed with ADHD, which was well-received by viewers, and Alicia worked alongside a cast including returning actors Angela Griffin (as Kim Campbell), Adam Thomas (as Donte Charles) and Katie Griffiths (as Chlo Charles). Answering our questions, Alicia spoke to us about being cast in the return of Waterloo Road for BBC, filming as Kelly-Jo Rafferty and working on the ADHD storyline.
In the new series of Waterloo Road, you play Kelly-Jo Rafferty, can you tell us about the character and what is she like to portray?
Where do I even start?! She’s a dream of a character to play and I count my lucky stars every day that Michelle Smith trusted me to portray her. Kelly-Jo has a lot to her, a lot of inner beauty she hasn’t realised yet due to so many false “truths” she gets thrown. Confrontational, aggressive, uncontrollable etc. She’s a young girl finding herself at a difficult time in life. She’s got a lot of love to give – someone who’s always up for a proper laugh, but when it’s not time to laugh she’s a young girl who’s internally struggling. I truly see her as a little sister I’m guiding through life.
Was there anything that originally drew you to the return of the series and what was it like meeting the rest of the cast for the first time?
As soon as I read Kelly-Jo’s character description I was like, ‘I need to be a part of this’. I grew up watching the show, my mum absolutely loved it!! I remember meeting all the cast for the first time and that’s when it felt real. I’ve admired Angela Griffin for so long (she’s pretty spellbinding, right?!), so watching her, Adam (Thomas), and Katie (Griffiths), and EVERYONE do their thing at the table read was electric. Watching these characters who were just words on a piece of paper come to life is hard to describe, there’s some magic to it.
Kelly-Jo was diagnosed with ADHD in the show, what has this storyline been like to work on and how has it been seeing the viewers’ response?
The response has been beautiful, more than beautiful!! It’s been something I can’t even put into words. I knew Kelly-Jo had the power to be a voice for a lot of people regardless of age, gender, race etc who have felt misunderstood. ADHD, even now, is something the educational system need to be more aware of. Some teachers don’t know how to handle all of the beautiful different brains people have, so they project their own lack of knowledge by stereotyping and degrading these kids as the “naughty kids” and that’s not right. My aim for Kelly-Jo was to portray her as accurately as possible. If one person felt seen because of her, then I’ve done my job!
Why would you recommend watching Waterloo Road to previous fans of the show and those that haven’t seen any of the previous series?
Because regardless of if it feels any different, it’s still that northern drama that gives a lot of different people a voice! Plus, when it’s not dealing with hard-hitting storylines, it’s a bit of laugh.
Where does your love of acting come from and was it something you always wanted to do?
I’ve always seen TV, film and theatre as this magical place, where the possibilities are infinite, but I never went to the theatre until I was like 15, on a school trip to the Liverpool Empire. I wasn’t the drama kid growing up, I was more sporty, but there was something euphoric about acting, writing and creating that grabbed me. It wasn’t academic, there wasn’t a step-by-step guide on how to do it, it was just a feeling and I loved that. I think it’s beautiful how we live one life on this earth, and with acting you live so many more. I’ve experienced so many different things I would never have experienced in my life as Alicia. It’s made me dive into different brains, understand different people and yeah, I just think it’s pretty frickin’ beautiful.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Keeping it real and living life with happiness as a main priority, honestly. Every day is blessed – just got to ride that wave… and go on the odd spontaneous trip (in Skyscanner we trust).
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
One of the nights before the show aired, me, Priyasasha Kumari (Samia) and some friends put all of the windows down in the car and blasted Koffee – Toast whilst driving around Manchester at midnight, seeing the show’s billboards everywhere. And when I tell you we sang that song with our absolute chest – “gratitude is a must”. So whatever euphoric feeling that was, more moments like that.