Just when we thought corner shop show had every type of character you could think of - along comes 'steve'
Where and when did your acting career start? Did you attend a drama school? Tell us the story!
I always loved performing, making people laugh. I loved drama lessons in school, we used to have it once a week and I would count down the days until Drama lesson would come along, I felt so free! Also I had the best teacher ever, Mrs Taylor, if you’re reading this, I love you. (don’t worry, I have her number, we keep in contact I just said that for effect.) After school I attended chicken shed performing arts school and studied Btec national diploma in performing arts, straight after college I did attempt to get into a drama school, after countless rejections, oh well, I guess I’m debt free (for the time being). I then decided to go straight into the industry.
Did you follow the traditional educational route of College & Uni? If so, what did you study? Was this to further your acting career?
I didn’t, who knows, it may be a regret! I just didn’t feel I wanted to attend uni.
Staying motivated as an actor is tough, even the most famous of celebrities have the biggest de-motivational periods. How do you stay motivated?
It is really tough, one thing that keeps me going is creating my own work, and it is so so vital. When opportunities don’t come your way, create them yourself. Don’t wait on the phone to call from your agent, work hard yourself and everything will follow, keep making, keep creating, keep failing, keep going!
Tell us some things you do to prepare yourself for a role? Do you talk to yourself in front of a mirror? Do you practise your lines or re-phrase them as you perform?
It depends what role it is, if it is comedy I tend to look at the situation, what type of comedy is the show? Slapstick? Dry etc.… I’ll then just study the script a bit, find different ways to listen and react, instead of solely focusing on learning lines working around your lines and the script naturally, you will learn! Unless it’s 100 pages to learn for a audition the next day…If the role is slightly deeper, more dramatic, no matter what it is I find something within myself, or experiences of life and put them into the work.
Are you in 'acting' mode all the time? Are you always thinking about it? Are you always in practise?
I love observing people, you know sometimes on the train I would watch how people move, it’s really important to me. Studying people. Not in a creepy way of course!
Who are your biggest inspirations? In life and in your career?
In life? Contentment, that’s important to me, finding the space to be in the moment instead of constantly thinking whether Arsenal will win or not (Big Arsenal fan). You might be thinking not happiness? Happiness is an emotion, I know it will be with me for the rest of my life, putting pressure to constantly be happy is a losing game, it will make you overthink and lose control.
In my career? Jim Carrey, all the way. My hero. He inspires me so much, he brought his own style to us not caring what people think, his aura on screen, his presence, his roles, just everything. He is incredible.
Now let’s talk about Corner Shop Show! You play the role of ’Steve’, can you tell us a bit about the character without giving any spoilers? What’s he like as a person?
Steve is like dental floss, you can keep pulling and pulling knowing the end of the string is near. You’ll never know when he will actually speak up for himself and tell you what is really on his mind, but you have this feeling that some point he will! He isn’t best pleased of the surroundings he is dealing with, he doesn’t particularly like his job, he isn’t getting paid as he is a intern…He went to uni thinking he will be the next Bill Gates, instead he feels like bill no mates.
What did you do to prepare for this role?
I searched for the vulnerability, the sadness within him, the control he has and the surroundings he is facing. I didn’t focus on cementing the lines in my head, I knew the lines but they were at the back of my head, who knows how he will say what he says, how he will react. I felt in terms of eye contact it’s limited; he’s very shy and awkward. I also gave him a little back story.
You come from a Stand Up Comedy background, did any of that help towards playing the role of ‘Steve’ in Corner Shop Show?
I have been doing comedy for many years, whether it is stand up or comedy improvisation, I feel comedic timing is everything, stand up really helps me with that, when is best to tell the punch line, the pauses, the way the joke is said.
Corner Shop Show has a big cult fanbase, with thousands of young people & families watching around the world. How does it feel to be part of the ‘Corner Shop Crew’?
A honour, it hasn’t really sunk in to be honest, there is a slight wonderful feeling knowing many young kids will be watching the show hopefully feeling inspired.
What’s it like working on a Corner Shop set? Is it any different from film sets you’ve been on in the past?
It’s brilliant, the freedom we have to explore our characters and improvise around them is amazing, Islah really trusts our instincts and gives a sudden family like feeling on set, that’s so important, to feel comfortable in your work surroundings and work together as a team to create the best possible content.
Lastly, without sounding too cheesy, what advice would you give to someone out there who’s reading and wants to chase a dream like yours?
So many times people will make you feel like you can’t do something, just do it anyway. Keep working, keep believing, be patient, it will come. And keep bloody loving! Be kind, be humble. And without failure and rejections, life will be boring, treat them as an experience and keep going, keeeeep goingggggg!
You can catch alex in corner shop - episode 10 on june 30th 2017