Eric Shango

📷 : Hunch Creatives

In the ITV series Trigger Point, Eric Shango plays Danny for his first regular screen character alongside a cast including Vicky McClure as Lana Washington. Trigger Point won Best New Drama at the 2022 National Television Awards, and Eric has recently returned to set as Danny to film Series 2. Other projects for Eric have seen him appear in an episode of Suspicion last year, play Josh in the short film Support Me – which is based on the life of the late UK rapper Cadet – and on stage, he made his professional debut as Tanaka / Fiifi in Barber Shop Chronicles on the UK Tour and in New York. We spoke to Eric about playing Danny in the ITV series Trigger Point, having the show win Best New Drama at the 2022 National Television Awards and performing on stage in the UK and New York with Barber Shop Chronicles.

Can you tell us about your character Danny in the ITV series Trigger Point and what is he like to play?

Danny is a young, ambitious London Met Police officer who serves within the counterterrorism division, more specifically, as a ‘Number Two’, to his friend and mentor, Bomb Expert officer (EXPO), Lana Washington.

He’s an interesting character, as he’s quite different to me so finding where we connect is the fun discovery lies.

What is it like having Danny as your first regular character on screen, and do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role?

It did feel a little surreal at the time, if I’m being honest, sustaining a career as an actor, unfortunately it isn’t as straightforward in comparison to other jobs so naturally there was a deep sense of gratitude and disbelief because the role didn’t feel as if it were mine until we started shooting. Coming straight out of drama school, I couldn’t gauge what the job was, the size of the role or who I’d be working with so I was just tempering my expectations a little, but I did eventually feel over the moon!

How is it working on set and filming with the rest of the cast, which includes Vicky McClure as Lana Washington?

Filming on a big set, like other jobs, has its great moments and not so great moments but working with the cast has been an absolute pleasure. Extremely talented, all consummate professionals and just all round lovely people. Vicky and I, just like, Danny and Lana quickly formed a great working relationship, great chemistry and we had a lot of fun on set. We’re now really good friends. I’m embarrassed to say it now but, a true story, I had never heard of her until meeting her, so when we met I asked her name (she was scoffing a Greggs Sausage Roll, or something), she welcomingly, told me, I politely reciprocated then walked away. Then swiftly, one of the other cast members lovingly pulled me to the side and told me in future, it’s always good to know the lead’s name.

How has it been seeing the viewers’ response to the series and how was it having Trigger Point win Best New Drama at the 2022 National Television Awards?

I always endeavour to do good work and tell good stories, so to see the response to the show was crazy, being that this was my first significant role and for it to be received in the manner that it was, so much so that it was nominated and even won an award for its first season is something that could have never been foreseen. However, after all the work that had gone into it both on and off screen, it wasn’t a shock to me that it did win, a very proud moment nonetheless.

Why would you recommend watching Trigger Point and who do you think it will appeal to?

This story is well told, the characters are relatable and every episode has its own cliffhanger!

I think this type of show is for people who like to sit on the edge of their seats 24/7, the twists and turns are so frequent that you never know what’s coming next or what to expect. It really is the call sign for this show.

We understand you are currently filming for Series 2, how is this coming along and what are you looking forward to for the release?

At the time of reading this we may have wrapped. Filming Season 2 had a different set of challenges. The first couple of weeks of filming were night shoots in the peak of winter when it was absolutely freezing, so yeah, we had a great time! However, despite the challenges, seeing and working with everyone, characters being further developed gave me a lot more to sink my teeth into. This season, I’m looking forward to seeing how the new characters intertwine with the returning ones and just how this new storyline all comes together, no spoilers I’m afraid!

You appeared in an episode of Suspicion last year, what was this like to do?

Another very poignant moment, it was my first time on TV, so I was just equally as nervous as I was excited, if not more, but it was a good experience and I was really grateful for getting that chance. I was offered the part at the top of lockdown in 2020 so everything was quite touch and go, there wasn’t as much time for prep as I would have needed back then but it gave me a chance to think on my feet. I was fresh off a six-month theatre tour so I still felt quite sharp.

In 2020, you played Josh in the short film Support Me, can you tell us about this?

This was a project I hold quite dearly to my heart as it was a story based on the true events of the life of the late UK rapper Cadet. He had passed sometime before we began filming for this and it was then released posthumously. His mother and family were heavily involved and I just wanted to do him, his family and his story justice.

On stage, you played Tanaka / Fiifi in Barber Shop Chronicles, what was the show like to be part of?

This was almost a dream as this show was groundbreaking for black afro/Caribbean stories within theatre, so to be involved in it so soon after leaving drama school made me feel like I was walking on a cloud. Playing Fiifi (a young expecting father), and Tanaka (a young expat wanting to return to his homeland), was really fun. I felt I was able to and really enjoyed connecting to them being young African males who were really proud of where they were from, at that point in my life journey that was enough for me to find a commonality between their lives within the play and my own.

How did you find the experience touring the UK for the first time with the show and how was it performing in New York?

Touring the UK made me feel like a rockstar… Travel, hit the stage, lights up, applause, next city, repeat. Performing in America was the icing on the cake and was what finally convinced my family I was onto something, as only I had ever been stateside before this as part of a school trip, so going there for work made this a huge deal. This was the confirmation for them that this was no longer just a pipe dream.

What are some of your favourite memories from making your professional debut in Barber Shop Chronicles?

My favourite memory was working with 11 other African/Caribbean men, talking, bantering, and sharing our very similar but equally different cultures. The music, the dance sequences, the singing, the manner in which we told the story which all came together so seamlessly. The demands of the show meant that we stayed locked in at all times as there was always the possibility to get complacent when having that much fun! If I were to head back into theatre anytime soon that would have to be the set up.

How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?

It’s weird because I never know how far back to go with this question but the short answer is I’ve always known, from a very early age. Even if it was just an inkling. I felt I was destined for this. People would make references to me being a speaker or lawyer or even a comedian but I knew it had to be this. I did have doubts along the way but it was only a question of timing.

The more detailed answer/story is for another day.

Do you have any favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your free time?

Regarding film and TV shows, I hate this question because I have so many. I guess it’s more a question of what periods in time. The 90s black sitcom/movies about the black experience within southern and urban America, really stood out to me. The Steven Spielberg 80s/90s. The Jean-Claude Van Damme kung fu 80s and obviously you have the classics – The Sopranos, The Wire etc. I do spend a lot of free time watching sports. I’m a huge Arsenal fan. I love basketball and contact sports. I also really enjoy travelling and spending time with my close friends. I love my family so I’m around them a lot. I always retire my evenings when I’m not filming with video games.

Have you been given any advice that has stuck with you over your time as an actor so far?

Two pieces of advice that have stuck with me were:

Don’t wait for the phone to ring.

The other was, I once asked a question whilst training, to a director “What makes a great actor?”. I had always heard the term great actor thrown around but never understood how to become one. She told me that the three components of a professional actor are: talent, attitude and reliability. She then proceeded to explain that most good actors only have two and to be considered a great actor, you needed all three.

What are you hoping 2023 brings for you and do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about?

After finishing Trigger Point 2, I needed a break as I had a very busy first six months so I will take some time to get away and switch off for a bit. I am currently writing a series of short films with my long-time friend and actor Jessie Bedrossian alongside working with a few other top class creatives. Another close friend and I are looking into fashion at the moment as well as a few other bits lurking around but I won’t go much into what’s coming next.

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