Film Courage: Where did you grow up? What was life like at home?
Samantha Theobald-Roe: I grew up in Biggleswade (silly name I know), in Bedfordshire. I had a pretty average home life, my Mum was a stay-at-home-mum, and best cake maker ever, My Dad worked with space probes and satellites, and complains about the science in science fiction movies, they have always been incredibly supportive and loving. My sister now works in outdoor sports and though we still argue a lot I’m super proud of all of them.
Film Courage: How would you describe yourself as a child?
Samantha: Well I would describe myself as hellish! I had a big attitude. But my Mum always describes me as confident and creative. Apparently one of my first teachers said to her that the end of the school year “You know she’s going to be an actress or entertainer right? I was always loud and excitable, not always a good thing. I hope that’s an energy and passion I can hold on to, even when I reach 70!
Film Courage: If your life were a motion picture, what would the title be?
Samantha: Still Figuring It Out, and I would love Anne Hathaway to play me, if she found my life at all interesting enough for her! I’m only 22 so I still feel like I’m learning how to function as an adult (from what I hear that doesn’t end anytime soon) and I’d like to think my life story would make a decent heartfelt coming of age comedy.
Film Courage: Who in your life would you like to thank and for what?
Samantha: I owe a lot of people a lot of thanks in my life, from basic things like my family, friends, and people who’ve taught me a lot about my passions, to people I’ve never met who’ve inspired me over the internet. I guess mostly I would want to thank my teachers and friends and family who just give me the quiet encouragement and belief that makes it easier to believe in myself. Really it means so much when you just tell someone they’ve done well, it can make someone’s day, especially if they’re people who care about you and your opinion.
Film Courage: Who’s had the greatest influence on your life and why?
Samantha: I wish I had some big inspiring people I looked up to like Ghandi, but I think really the people who influence my life most on the whole are my mum and dad. But the people who’ve shaped me most since childhood are probably fictional characters. Lame I know, but fictional people get to be bigger and larger than people in real life, they kind of give me aspirational goals for myself as a person. Characters like Batgirl, Belle and most women in fantasy adventures, they always get to be the best of themselves.
Film Courage: What song (by any artist) do you feel was written specifically for you and why?
Samantha: I think people change so much no-one song can capture everything one person is, but recently I’ve really been hooked on Hozier’s album, I know it’s not new or anything but his voice is so haunting and the music has such a lively beat. It’s just a fascinating juxtaposition that I can’t get enough of!
Film Courage: Can you share what your coursework and the curriculum was like at your alma mater University of Exeter, where you received your Bachelor’s in dramatic arts?
Samantha: It’s hard to share the exact curriculum at University of Exeter, just because it’s always changing, and because it’s so adaptable. Fundamentally the course is designed to make you question, analyze and think about 1. How theatre shapes, influences and comments on society. 2. How it can be used to improve society. It’s about 50/50 practical and theory but it’s where I really studied feminism and how people think. The last year of the degree really gives you all the skills you should need if you want to continue academia or start your own theatre company. It was a great 3 years and there’s so much going on both within and outside of the course there’s no excuse to get bored or not have something your passionate about at any one time.
Film Courage: Was there a college professor at University of Exeter that said something to you which still stays with you today?
Samantha: There’s a couple, I did a module on ‘Madness’ as a concept and how mental illness was presented and performed and that module was brilliant. It discussed experience and how we can and should share experience. It’s impossible to fully understand exactly how someone is feeling or what they are going though without experiencing it yourself. That message has kind of stuck with me. As an actor you’re always trying to get into someone else’s head and I feel like I should try and do that as honestly as possible every time.
Film Courage: Your LinkedIn profile says you ‘knew you wouldn’t be happy unless you were doing something you love?’ How did you arrive at this thought?
Samantha: My dad used to love his job he was always so passionate about it, he’d bring home posters and models of all the satellites and probes he was working on, he’d give me and my sister like 6 posters to give to our teachers. I think that what I wanted to chase. I was also a really stubborn kid and I kind of held onto that attitude of, but if it’s not fun why should I do it? If I can’t get excited about the work I’m doing I don’t do it well, so why bother doing it at all? Everyone has something that gets them pumped and leaves them feeling like they’ve done something worthwhile, some people use that to become doctors or lawyers, but some people feel like they achieved something when they hit level 100 on that video game they love.
Film Courage: We understand you’re a huge Joss Whedon fan. Which of his characters would you love to play and why?
Samantha: GAAAHAHHH! So many to choose from! I get compared to Kaylee from Firefly a lot and working in that cast would be AMAZING! But I think for me, Echo from Dollhouse has got to win it, getting to play different people every week while also showing some consistency in Echo’s character would be really challenging, and I think that’s something that could be really fun as an actor.
Film Courage: In your opinion, what separates Joss Whedon’s storytelling from other creators?
Samantha: How he creates relationships, without a doubt. He’s able to do ensembles better than anyone else I’ve seen. The reality and the sincerity with his work are amazing; there are one liners and banter even when the world is crumbling around them. I also love how he writes women, and I think that he understands people, so his female characters are believable both strong and fragile at times. He is writing complex women who are tough but more than just bad-ass, they’re tough because they have to be not because they chose to be. That’s something we can ALL relate to, his characters just feel so real.
Film Courage: You say you are constantly looking for new challenges. How can you tell when you are becoming bored or stagnant with an endeavor and need something new?
Samantha: When it becomes routine, or when I have to force myself to do it. If I can do it without trying or walk away and feel no sense of achievement, it’s become too easy and I know I need to up my game or try something new.
Film Courage: How often do you audition?
Samantha: It depends, on what I’m already working on and what time I have. The challenge with auditioning for me is physically getting to auditions and the roles being there to start with. I try and apply for get one audition a week at least, definitely more when I’m not already involved with projects.
Film Courage: How active are you in looking for acting work and how much do you rely on an agent or manager?
Samantha: I am represented by Patrick Management but I’m also very active myself. I’m checking spotlight and CastingCallPro daily; I think in acting there’s so many people who have talent, and so many people going for work. You’ve got to be realistic, it’s not always about the best talent but also about who looks right or who’s going to really commit. I can’t afford to sit on my butt and wait for roles to come to me, I’ve got to be active in getting them otherwise someone else will do just that.
Film Courage: What actress or actor’s performance changed your life?
Samantha: Oh so many to choose from! I think the one that always comes to mind though is Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries, I really saw something familiar in her, she was clumsy and geeky and she was so captivating she has that X-factor people always go on about. Something about that made me believe I could make it happen too. I’d have to work hard, but I could chase this dream! Since then she’s shown she a really great actor but honestly I think as an actor you’re always trying to pinch things, understand what the actor you’re watching is doing and why. They all influence how you work and what you bring to your next role. We’re all just pinching ideas and techniques from each other all the time.
Samantha: I had a friend, Ben Gilbert, working on one of his previous films The Runner, and he mentioned they needed extras; I didn’t have any classes that day so I popped along to fill some screen space, and spent the day running over logs, through woods and meeting new people. It was good fun and well organized, and John was great at letting us know exactly what he wanted. I’m looking forward to working with him again.
Film Courage: How did writer/director John Tomkins pitch the idea for a role in ROWENA GHOUL?
Samantha: John pitched Rowena Ghoul as an action adventure with ghosts and a female protagonist, I was sold. He then sweetened the deal by saying he was influenced by Beetlejuice which just sang to the 16 year old in me who thought Tim Burton was a god! As a fan of all things sci-fi/fantasy the chance to be involved with something that challenged me as an actor and let me experience new techniques and effects on a film set was priceless! I’m a big fan of Buffy and Supernatural and those cheesy fantasy movies of the 1990s and early 2000s so naturally I was intrigued.
Film Courage: Who is your character in writer/director John Tomkins upcoming fantasy/action/adventure film ROWENA GHOUL?
Samantha: I am playing Rowena Ghoul, she’s got the ability to see lost souls and makes it her job to reunite them with their loved ones and help them pass on. She’s pretty much always been able to see ghosts and she runs a YouTube vlog where she shares that part of her life. I can’t give too much away but there are some interesting friendships for her and some interesting rival relationships that I’m excited to play with, as well as some compelling villains. It’s looking to be an exciting project and there’s some serious talent that I get to act with. Like Aaron Turner, who will play Ambrose, a headless ghost and kind of Rowena’s closest friend.
Film Courage: What advice do you have for actors for presenting themselves on social media?
Samantha: Just remember everything you put onto the internet is there FOREVER! There are so many ways to promote yourself and your work and you should 100% be doing that, but if you say something mean/racist/sexist/etc on your social media it will be found! Twitter and Facebook are great tools to promote yourself and the projects your working on, so keep them up to date and use hashtags so people find your stuff. There are also some great casting sites online now so you can get some work that way.
Film Courage: Aside from acting, what other jobs within theatre or film do you love?
Samantha: I’m fascinated by set/props and makeup; the people who make a world really come to life (especially in sci-fi and fantasy films). The things they can make are stunning, and they really don’t get enough credit. Sets and building a world you see on stage or on screen for 2hrs or even just 10 mins can take months and months of work to make. It’s a fascinating process as well taking things from sketches to models to full sized set pieces or a full prosthetic face mask; it’s a beautiful art form.
Film Courage: What has working as second AD taught you about being in front of the camera?
Samantha: Pre-production is the most stressful thing! My first role as 2nd Assistant Director I was mostly filling in for some friends who own a production company, they asked me to come along and I wanted to spend a week hanging out with them. We all turned up 1 day early for this shoot to do paperwork, last minuet budget checks etc, we were up until 2am doing paperwork. Health and Safety is a sooooo long! But it was fun and on set I filled the role of 3rd AD which meant I knew what everyone was doing at all times. When they say time is money in show business they really mean it. Deadlines are hard and they need to be kept to. I’m also really nosey so I kept asking questions the entire time; I learned about lenses and lights and even a little bit about the process in post-production. I’d recommend it to anyone in any role to try something on the other side of their comfort zone, you’ll learn a lot and it really helps you appreciate why people do what they do.
Film Courage: What else do you love to do that is creative?
Samantha: I do art to chill out; it’s something I do purely for me. I paint portraits mostly, but I’m trying to do new things and straying into new styles and new mediums all the time. I mostly work in ink or pencils on paper or if I want a real project I’ll use some canvas and acrylic. There’s something worthwhile in just creating art and adding to the world. I think even if no-one ever sees it, it helps me to chill out, get my head straight and at the end I have a piece of art.
Film Courage: What’s a secret ambition of yours?
Samantha: Well I’m not very secretive as a person so it’s not really a secret or realistic, but I’d love to develop a super power. I’m a big comic book fan so If I got the chance to play, well any member of the Bat Family that would be amazing. But I think I’d just like to be able to do those gravity defying kicks and flips. Maybe I’ll start Parkour and learn it as a new year’s resolution!
Film Courage: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?
Samantha: I think self-belief and self-confidence is something I have had to really work on and build up. At some point I lost all my confidence in myself and I think in general learning to believe in my skills and my gut again has been the most important thing I’ve had to learn.
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Samantha: Well Rowena is probably my last project in Exeter before I move back towards London. I have some work lined up for the end of November and Rowena is filming so I’m pretty busy, and loving it. I’ve got some other projects on the horizon but hopefully it’s a case of onwards and upwards.
Samantha Theobald-Roe graduated from Exeter University in 2014; she has always been involved in acting and doesn’t see that changing any time soon. A truly committed nerd she is influenced by all things sci-fi, fantasy and comic book. A committed feminist she’s most excited when bring to life believable and relatable female characters, hopefully in an honest and committed manner. With influences spanning from academic texts, across comic book writers (like Gail Simone) to TV and film (most notably in the form of Joss Whedon) she likes to think she’s got interesting ideas and is more than happy to geek out if given the chance! Her most recent project is Rowena Ghoul, a feature film being crowd funded now to be filmed in Devon. She will be playing the title role of Rowena Ghoul a young woman capable of seeing and communicating with the dead, but when an old acquaintance of her spirit friend Ambrose (Aaron Turner) returns her world is turned upside down. Apparently not all spirits are so happy to pass into the light.
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