Gef managed to squeeze a quick chat in with Samantha Barks, the incredibly talented Manx star of the stage and screen, to see how those bright lights of Broadway compare to Laxey village…
Congrats on your latest role as Vivian in Pretty Women, how ICONIC! How do you prepare for such a big role? It must be quite tough on your voice, body & mind!
Thank you so much! I feel incredibly lucky to get to play this iconic character! She is a high energy character and so I have been working hard to stay healthy and get my stamina to where it needs to be. I am not a huge cardio person, I prefer gentler exercise like yoga and Pilates. I think that combined with fuelling your body with the right kinds of foods makes me feel most energetic!
Your career is absolutely flying and it is so great to see! When was the last time you had to pinch yourself?!
Yesterday! I had to pinch myself as it was opening night here in Chicago for Pretty Woman and as I was waiting for the show to start I had a real pinch me moment!
So tell us, how does a girl raised in sleepy little Laxey town, become a world famous successful actress?!
I have a very supportive family who have always had such great work ethics so working hard is the way to start, but I feel so very lucky to get to be where I am.
What has been your favourite role so far and why?
I think Eponine will always be my favourite role because it has been so special to my life, and I have had so many fantastic memories along the way playing her!
You have a very good support network with your family and close friends, how do you stay focused and grounded?
It is that network that keeps everything in perspective. If you have good people around you, it’s easier to filter out what isn’t important and what to focus on in life!
Who has been your favourite co-star to work with and why?
I don’t know who is my favourite! I would struggle to choose. Working with Eddie Redmayne (in Les Misérables) was very special, as it was my first movie and he was such a gentleman and so kind to me!
Would you say you prefer the stage or the screen?
I couldn’t choose because I truly love them both! Stage is so special to me as it feels like home, there is something so magical about going on a stage to a different experience with a different audience every night! The thrill of film is being able to be so real, in the moment and not having to project to the back of a theatre.
What advice would you give any young, budding stars on the Island, who wish to achieve the same success as you?
I always think, throw yourself into everything you possibly can to develop your skill set. There are so many great opportunities on the Island for the arts and I was so lucky to be involved in groups such as Dancer’s Barre, Stage One, Manx Operatic Society, the Manx Ballet Company, and Taylorian productions. I am also so lucky that my parents and grandparents were always so supportive, I can’t tell you how many lifts they gave me to various rehearsals!!
The first time you were crowned a ‘Manx Gem’ was when you hit TV screens at 17, appearing on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s talent show ‘I’d do Anything’ – How did that come about?
I had just moved to London at age 16 to go to drama school and I heard about an audition for it and thought it would be a fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon! I never imagined it would go as far as it did, I just thought about how incredible it would be to sing in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber!!
With musicals being performed live, it must be pretty nerve-wracking! Have you ever had any embarrassing moments or things go wrong?
There are constantly things happening or going wrong when you do theatre, I think that is what makes it so thrilling! For an audience, they are the only people who get to see that exact performance and experience. For the cast however, when stuff goes wrong it’s when you make it all work as a team – you feel such an intense bond, your cast become one big family!
You are a strong, independent woman in a tough industry, what advice do you give yourself to keep going?
I always say don’t wallow in your failures and don’t believe your own hype! This industry is such a constant wave of emotions and I think it is vital to keep a level head.
Samantha is currently cast as Vivian Ward in the Broadway production of ‘Pretty Woman’, and is performing in Chicago until Mid-April. The show opens in New York on Thursday 16th August 2018.
This article was originally published in May 2018.