As seen in the BBC production Love, Nina
Photography by Ram Shergill
Styling by Claudia Behnke
Make Up Hugo Gamboa using Urban Decay
Hair Kristopher Smith using Bumble & Bumble
Faye recently starred in the BBC production Love, Nina alongside Helena Bonham Carter. Her performance has been well received. A rising talent of British acting, Faye is recognised internationally for her roles in Pride and Games of Thrones. We talked to her about her career and what she takes from the characters she plays. Faye seems to have played a number of characters that do not "fit into" society in a conventional way, which makes it interesting to hear what she thinks about prejudice, the struggle for acceptance and the importance of a global solidarity.
What has your best experience been while being an actress?
There really have been so many. The fact that I even get to do this job for a living is, in itself, the best experience. The people I meet and the people I get to pretend to be are amazing. I am incredibly grateful each time someone gives me a job!
How did you get into acting?
I saw a pantomime at age 6 and thought to myself 'that looks awesome'. I did amateur dramatics from around age 13 and then went on to University and then to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and it went from there.
After going through historical plots in The White Queen and Pride, do you think Game of Thrones indirectly reflect some episodes of the history of the U.K. or can in other ways be connected to the “real” world?
I think what is important and successful about these shows is that they present human beings in a way that people can identify with regardless of when or where they are set. People watch these shows to escape, connect or to see real or imagined versions of themselves. I think that’s what appeals to audiences.
Have you met the Dutch star Carice van Houten on set of Game of Thrones before?
No I haven't but I wish I had! You stay with your own story line cast whilst filming and the other story lines could be shooting in very different locations so I rarely saw many of the other cast members whilst filming.
You recently starred in the TV Series My Mad Fat Diary telling the journey of Rae, an overweight teenager suffering from mental health. What is your opinion on body image?
The pressure is real and the media and advertising only perpetuate the problem. I wish there were no comparisons or definitions out there but there is and that is something that needs to change for the sake of human beings and their mental health. It should be more about feeling good.
What kind of message does My Mad Fat Diary deliver to its young audience in your opinion?
That it’s okay to not be okay. That there is no 'right' way to be or think. That you can ask for help, that you are worthy of compassion and kindest, as is everyone who walks this earth. I think that show is an incredibly important piece of work. It addresses the realities that young and vulnerable people face…it does that with such charm, class and respect. It's real.
With regards to Pride, which was released outside the U.K, how is this film, set in 1984, relevant to today’s society?
Despite huge attitude shifts towards the LGBT community in our society, there are still places on this planet facing the same struggles highlighted in the film and much worse. Wherever there is hatred and ignorance, there will always be struggle, no matter what group of people it is aimed at. I think Prideshows solidarity and togetherness in the fight against prejudice. To me, I think we need a global solidarity to stop all this hatred and fear.
In Pride you worked alongside British actors of your generation, such as George MacKay, but also greats such as Imelda Staunton. How was the atmosphere? Did you connect with some of them until after the film shoot?
They are gracious, kind and hilarious human beings and yes I still stay in touch with many members of the cast. What we had was a very special group of people that believed in the importance of the film and that made for an amazing atmosphere on set.
Very recently you starred in Love, Nina – what is it about if you had to sum up in three sentences?
Young lady moves from Leicester to London to have an adventure. She ends up being a nanny for a charming and bonkers family who treat her like one of their own. She's incredibly crap at being the nanny but they persevere with her anyway!
You play Nina, can you tell me a bit about your character?
She is 20 and has grown up in Leicester. Working in a care home with no qualifications she decides to move to London. She is quirky and awkward and has this incredible spirit and optimism. She's not the best nanny in the world but she gives it all she has got. She can be argumentative and a bit of a crap liar, but she has a heart of gold and tries her hardest at everything. She was so much fun to play.
Is it a ‘culture shock’ that your character undergoes after moving to London?
Yes it is. Not one that scares her though. She embraces it and writes letters back home to her sister explaining in great and hilarious detail all the little differences.
You are not from London yourself? How did you initially adapt moving here?
I found it difficult for the first year I was here to be honest. The pace and the sheer volume of people took some getting used to. It is an amazing city though and I love how there is always something to do or see here.
How was it to play alongside Helena Bonham Carter?
Incredible. She is an incredibly special human being with a gift of making you feel comfortable and accepted straight away. She looked out for me and I still hang out with her now when we get the chance. Being in a scene with her is like a master class and I am so lucky I got to be a part of it.
We noticed that many of your experiences in cinema relate to the U.K., are you very attached to your British roots?
I think that that is just the way it has gone for me and I’m not complaining! We have a wonderful industry here doing some awesome things. I would of course never say no to going further afield if I was lucky enough to get the opportunity.
You seem fond of Teesside, what makes it so special?
Its home. Its where my family is and my oldest friends. The people there are hard-working, lovely and good humoured. The area has had a lot to deal with recently and yet it still powers on. I love it and miss it all the time.
We observed that you have embodied lots of characters in their teen years. Do you enjoy travelling back to this moment in a character’s life?
Its awesome! I get to be different versions of my teenage self!
What’s next for you?
Game of Thrones season 6 is about to air so I’m looking forward to that. I will be shooting something soon but I’m afraid I can’t say what yet! Things are happening though and in this industry that is a feeling you must hold on to and enjoy because you never know when it might just stop.