By midlandsmovies, May 11 2018 07:30PM
Midlands Interview - Birmingham actress and filmmaker Hayley Davis
Midlands Movies Mike speaks to West Midlands creative Hayley Davis about her film work and new web series Random where the talented actress has created a series of exciting monologues to flex her acting work into new media.
Midlands Movies: Hiya Hayley. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Hayley Davis: Hello! I'm a Birmingham based actor and writer. I'm Birmingham born and raised but moved away to study and after university I moved to London for a few years before realising that I couldn't balance being a creative with being able to rent and buy food in one of the most expensive cities in the world! So I came back to Birmingham and really started concentrating on making my own work.
MM: And what attracted you to working in the film industry?
HD: It's strange to think of myself as being "in the film industry" as I'm still in the very early stages of my career. I actually started writing film purely because I wanted to be in a short film! I was trying to get acting work with only a little experience and everyone was telling me that unpaid work was the way forward. I just thought, well if I'm not getting paid anyway, I've got ideas so I may as well write something, get the crew together myself and then I can schedule it all around my paid work.
MM: That's great. So, what hurdles did that entail and how did you overcome them?
HD: Apart from the logistics of producing a film and getting a project up and on its feet, the biggest hurdle was to stop waiting for permission to create something. I waited for so long to start making my own work because, to be honest, I was scared shitless. Am I good enough? Can I do this? Am I "worthy"? Will people think it's shit? Once I thought, you know what, no-one is going to hand you a job so you either get over your anxiety or nothing will ever happen. I just got on with it. Even if people don't like my work, I'm not going to die.
MM: You also have a new series called Random on your site. Can you tell our readers a bit about that?
HD: I've been doing a lot of corporate roleplay acting over the last year, which isn't very creative and can get a bit boring. I wanted to make sure that I was keeping my creativity going. I ALWAYS feel like I should be making more work and I wanted to create something that was fairly quick to produce but also allowed me to challenge myself.
Random is a set of monologues that I write by going on Snopes.com which is a website that debunks or confirms various stories, urban legends, news articles etc. Some of the stuff on there is crazy. So, I select a random story and then write and perform a monologue based on the story. So far there's been a UFO fanatic, a murderous wife and a teacher who has a momentary loss of control. The idea was to post every two weeks or so, but my work schedule has been busy, so I try to do them as and when I can.
MM: The Get Out Clause brought you a lot of attention including a win at BFF. How did that project come about?
HD: That was so crazy. As I mentioned it was really something I did because I wanted some short film footage to help with acting work. I had already made a very small film / monologue called Would Like to Meet but wanted to do something a bit bigger. I wrote, produced and starred in the film and then it languished on my laptop for a year or two. I didn't do anything with it. Then last year on a whim, I entered it into the BFF and then forgot about it. When I was told it was nominated for Best Local Film, I thought, that's nice. It won't win, but I'll have a night out at the awards and that will be something. So, when it did win I nearly fell out of my chair. It was such a lovely feeling to have this thing that I had made from nothing, with no expectations, receive some recognition.
MM: You also both act and write. Do you have a preference of one over the other? What do you bring to each discipline?
HD: A few years ago I would have said that I wanted to be recognised as an actor more than anything. But now for me they go hand in hand. I find both challenging and rewarding in lots of ways and they inform each other. Writing makes me a better actor and vice versa.
MM: Can you give any advice can you give to other actors out there to get noticed?
HD: Please let me know if you find this out because I'd love to know! It's hard. I'm very much trying to be "noticed" myself. I'm working on the theory that if I do everything I can, make work, try to get that recognised, supported, enjoyed then the profile will come.
MM: And what has been your greatest achievement so far?
HD: I think one of the things that makes me most proud is changing from working in jobs I hated and made me unhappy (office, corporate) to be able to make money from acting and/or creative jobs. I think back to a couple of years ago when I was sat on my lunch break, in a badly fitting blouse crying because I hated what I was doing and I'm thankful that I haven't had to do that for a good while now. It could all change tomorrow but I still think that's an achievement.
MM: And who has inspired you in your work?
HD: Of course I'm in awe of brilliance like Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. But I am also really inspired by women who have had success with creating their own work. Michaela Cole, Phoebe Waller-Bridges, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, Lena Dunham and Ava Duvernay. I look to them for inspiration.
MM: Who are you favourite Midlands creatives out there you’d recommend our readers checking out?
HD: Elinor Coleman is a wonderful writer/performer who wrote a show called Baby Daddy which was on at the Birmingham Rep. Not film, but a lovely Birmingham based performer. [Editor: check it out at this link - click here].
MM: And finally, what’s next on the horizon for you?
HD: I'll be continuing to create Random so keep an eye out for those. I'm also in the process of writing my next short film which I'm really excited about and will hopefully be a bigger project than The Get Out Clause. I'm also involved in a pilot which I am also co-writing and is being filmed in the Autumn which I'm hoping will lead to bigger things. Just keep an eye on my website. It will all be on there!
Check out Hayley Davis’s new blog series ‘Random’ on her website at www.mshayleydavis.com
And follow for her latest news on Twitter @mshayleydavis