“We were right…..the film has endured”
What inspired you to become an actress?
I was originally a dancer. I was inspired, like so many girls…by the nutcracker. I then went onto the Hight School of Performing Arts where – like the film Fame – we really did dance on top of the desks!
You attended the Performing Arts Academy in New York during your teens – what is your favourite stage production you have been in?
I enjoyed being in the original production of Annie where I was in the chorus (second brunette on left) . It was such fun being part of a big hit. But the play I most enjoyed was at the Tricycle Theatre ‘Tap Dance on a Telephone Line ‘ which told the story of telephone operators who worked long hours and had few breaks. Not obvious material for a compelling musical and yet it worked well.
What is your favourite stage production you haven’t been in?
I recently heard a young girl of 16 who won the BBC’s campaign for Poetry by Heart. And just listening to the winner recite a poem by Elizabeth Bishop called ‘The Fish’ – made me think of poetry in an entirely new way. It was a Eureka moment – like a light went on. And I felt a yearning to do Shakespeare. Although I was once in the RSC for a West End transfer, I never did Shakespeare on the stage.
In 1986 you portrayed the role of Corporal Ferro in aliens – how was this experience?
It was fun being part of Aliens. As we filmed each sequence, we were aware that we were making what would be a hit. How did we know this? Something about the excitement and energy and size of the thing…and of course we were right. The film has endured!
Are you still in touch with any of the cast/crew from the movie?
Recently I ran into William Hope. And I see Ricco Ross and Jenette Goldstein every now and then for a signing. And we have a bit of a jolly reunion get together or dinner.
What do you do post acting/performing?
I am now a producer and I work on big city wide events which aim to do something absurdly simple: to make people happy.
We recently ‘gave voice’ to statues across London and Manchester. If statues could talk, what stories would they tell? We commissioned leading writers and actors to create ‘inner voices ‘ for these statues. Pass a talking statue, swipe your phone on a nearby tag and presto, your phone rings and its Sherlock on the line (by way of Ed Stoppard) or Queen Victoria (Prunella Scales) or the Unknown soldier in Paddington (voiced by Patrick Stewart)
We have just produced the same project in Chicago – Statue Stories Chicago with actors like David Schwimmer, Stever Carrel , Elizabeth McGovern and Bob Newhart.
We recently met you at LFCC do you enjoy meeting fans on the convention circuit?
I have a terrific time meeting fans. I’m always amazed at how fantastic they are and how many interesting things they do – there are surgeons and builders and carers (who are specially inspiring) and I have such a great time chatting with everyone.
I really like to take my time and get to know people a bit.
Who is your personal icon?
Here are some people I really respect and why: Rowan Williams – because he is so very wise and educated
Carly Simon because I think she’s the best living lyricist – her lyrics are not fussy and elegant and original.
Jude Kelly because she has made the South bank Centre absolutely superb and because she was an early believer in me and my company Sing London.
Actress Denise Gough who is Irish and recently starred in National Theatre and at the end , she was so good , I had to stand on my chair and cheer.
The BBC for just existing and providing us all with the most marvellous resources.
If you could play any role which would it be and why?
If I was producing something I’d like to produce a musical which actually made people think about political activism and making the world better. Everyone is so involved with their bodies and gyms…we need more people to think generously.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
We have a few other things up our sleeves. Meantime…
We hope that Talking Statues will travel to more cities in the USA and the UK.
It’s recently opened in Berlin, Vilnius and of course Chicago. In the meantime do go and visit some of the talking statues in London and Manchester, they’re free and have really interesting stories to tell. Some are famous stories like Isaac Newton (British Library) whilst others have stories which beg to be told – such as Roland Hill. Who is he you wonder? Well he did this teensy thing of …..inventing the world’s first postage stamp – which turned the UK into a nation of letter writers.