born in Reading and grew up in Berkshire where my parents taught at a boarding
school. I come from a large family and was very fond of climbing trees, cycling
and playing endless games with my sister and our large collection of dolls. For
the most part I enjoyed school, particularly English, Art and History.
Did you always want to be an actress and what drew you to the performing arts
as a career?
I was always in school plays and loved
performing in general as a child, but for years my great passion was ballet. I
loved the music and the costumes, but most of all I loved the storytelling. It
was as a teenager that acting took over as my primary interest. I knew then
that I wanted to act professionally, and never seriously considered any other
When did you first perform and where did you train?
undergraduate studying English at the University of Bristol, I was heavily
involved in the drama and music scenes. Later, I went to Bristol Old Vic
Theatre School, where I studied for two years. My first professional acting
jobs were in 2014.
4. Who are your influences?
I have drawn inspiration from
many people over the years, from family members to school teachers. My greatest
professional influences have been certain members of staff at drama school,
and, more generally, actors ranging from Samantha Morton to Emma Thompson to
Joyce Grenfell. I am influenced by any great piece of theatre that I see.
5. What do you do to prepare?
It depends on the project but
generally speaking I jump straight in with the script, and do any research that
needs to be done as I go along.
What are your strengths as an actor and how do
they contribute to the style that makes you unique?
always been confident with language, and my English degree has been an enormous
help to me. I am good at spotting the rhythm of a line and knowing how to
deliver it effectively. This is useful in both comedic and serious roles, and I
always try to be a performer who can pass seamlessly between comedy and drama
at the drop of a hat.
What fears/anxieties do you have about your work?
always worry that they are not getting enough auditions, and I am no exception!
In this line of work, financial stability is never guaranteed, so that is
sometimes a concern. I am also worried about the way this industry has
historically treated women, although I do think that it is improving.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor and what impact did that
success have on you?
greatest achievement is that I am still working and making my living in this
industry six years in! Probably my greatest specific achievement was
successfully learning to walk on stilts, from scratch, in only six days, for a
theatre role. It definitely made me more confident about learning new skills
and gave me more faith in myself that I could rise to a challenge.
How does recording an audiobook stretch you as an actor and what was the
biggest challenge you faced in recording The Serendipity Game?
audiobooks is unlike any other form of performing since you do it alone without
fellow cast members to inspire you and buoy you up. ‘The Serendipity Game’ in
particular has a large cast of characters. Flitting seamlessly from one voice
to another was probably the greatest challenge.
What did you like about Casey in The Serendipity Game?
has had a difficult childhood and has come out of it as a very independent and
spirited woman. She is loyal to her friends and stands up for herself. These
were all great aspects to bring to her character.
If you had the chance to perform any role in any play or film, who would you
choose and why?
are far too many to choose from, but it’s probably a toss up between Eliza
Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’ and Cruella de Vil in ‘101 Dalmatians’. Eliza is a
richly comic part but also a nuanced character who goes on an incredible
character journey, of a kind which is hugely rewarding to play. Cruella is a
straightforward, larger than life, insane, bloodthirsty villain (with fantastic
costumes) – who doesn’t love playing one of those?
Who do you look up to?
the work of directors like Josie Rourke, Emma Rice and Vicky Featherstone. The
actor I most look up to, in terms of her range, emotional clarity and career
choices, is Lesley Manville.
What is your next project?
working on another audiobook called ‘Hello’, a psychological thriller, and I am
in rehearsals for an outdoor concert performance of Sondheim’s musical ‘Into
the Woods’, playing Cinderella.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
acting! Hopefully with a rich and varied CV, having made many more wonderful
What do you do when you’re not performing or recording audiobooks?
done various other non-acting jobs over the years. At the moment I am doing
some online tutoring, as well as writing and performing some comedy pieces for
a podcast. Outside of work, I sing with a chamber choir called Vivamus, spend
time with my family and friends, drink copious amounts of tea, and see as much
great theatre as I can.
16. What does
your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Probably a longish walk ending up at the pub followed by
watching a movie on the sofa with friends.
If you want to find out more about Monica you can contact her via her website: https://www.monicanashactor.com/