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Emer Kenny's Acting Advice...


The Three Best Pieces of Advice I have Ever Been Given...


I have a problem with procrastinating. Big time. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of funny Tyra Banks Youtube clips and a habit of staying up till 3am to reblog pictures of Azealia Banks on Tumblr… especially when I’m meant to be working. I’ve realised that this comes from a fear of failing – the thought that, if I write it really last minute, then I’ll have an excuse if it’s really bad. This thought is poison, and I’ve found that even though some of my last minute writing is better because it’s braver, writing with thinking and editing time allowed always wins.

Similarly, with acting, the fear of being too much, too mad, too loud, too out-there; of not getting the accent perfect, or saying the line quite right can make you nervous. When I got the part of Hope in Beaver Falls, I loved the character on the page. I had to swallow my fears of not doing her justice, and just go for it. She’s a hilariously odd sorority girl with stalkerish tendencies and I decided to go all out when I played her. I have no idea if I made the right decision, but I know I really enjoyed the process.


Even if it’s just an exercise, even if no one ever sees it, or if it’s total garbage and you throw it away straight after you write it (don’t – save it, it’ll come in handy), I think trying to write a part for yourself is invaluable. It will make you concentrate on your strengths and think about the parts you really want to play, and you might end up creating something unique and brilliant.

Tina Fey and Lena Dunham are masters of it and Mindy Kaling’s career began when her and a friend wrote a play for themselves where they played their own versions of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. They created their own success rather than waiting for someone else to cast them in something. I was lucky enough to play a part that I had written when I played Zsa Zsa Carter in E20 and Eastenders. We workshopped Zsa Zsa’s character for weeks, making sure all of the E20 writers knew her inside out before we wrote the series – so when I was cast as her I knew her better than anyone. It made my time on Eastenders a really fulfilling and fun experience.


When writing for shows like Holby City or Eastenders, you have to write really quickly. I have found that it helps if you already have a bank of conversations, jokes, images, or turns of phrases that may prompt you when you can’t get a line quite right. I write things down on my phone when I hear or see something funny or poignant and then flick through them when I get stuck. Similarly, with acting, watching both other actors and other people has helped me when I haven’t felt confident. Watching Reese Witherspoon in ‘Election’, Alicia Silverstone in ‘Clueless’ and all the cast of ‘Mean Girls’ helped me get to grips with Hope as a character. She’s perky, sweet and polite to the point of mania, but fiercely determined to get what she wants – and those all-American high school queen bees also had that quality.

Watching my little sister also helped - she runs with her hands in the air at all times, and it looks ridiculous, but adorable. I stole that for Hope, who was for some reason always sprinting around in rather difficult mini-skirts and flip-flops after A-rab. I don’t even know if any of that made the final edit, but it helped me find who I thought Hope was as a person. A hands-in-the-air-like-her-nails-are-wet-while-she-runs kind of person.

- Emer Kenny

Watch Emer Kenny in Beaver Falls on E4, Mondays at 10pm

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