Woodhouse Drama student Daisy gets Cold Feet…

A* drama student Daisy Edgar-Jones’ TV career continues to soar as she appears in the BBC’s Silent Witness this week. Over the holidays we saw her in the Christmas episode of Outnumbered, and before that as a main character in the latest series of Cold Feet.

Daisy came to Woodhouse from The Mount School for Girls and lives in Muswell Hill. She left us last summer with an A*AB in drama and theatre studies, English language and history. She is also the face of Drama in our current 2017 prospectus, and when she returned to us for a photo shoot last Autumn, she talked to us about what acting means to her and how Woodhouse fitted into her career…

Daisy… on her acting roots

“When I was young at primary school, I was very average at subjects, I wasn’t really ‘good’ at anything, just in the middle – and quite shy. Then, when I was in year five, we did a school play – and that was the first time I remember people saying “wow that was really good” and I thought ‘Oh… I’m good at something!’ It seemed acting was just the thing that I was best at.

We were studying the Tudors and Henry VIII, and my teacher had made a script up that was like a Jeremy Kyle type show with Henry and all his wives coming on. I was Anne Boleyn and strutted on stage with a fake head under my arm and gave it all this ‘sass’, and everyone thought it was really funny – and I thought ‘I really love this’. Then, in year seven I played Alice in Alice in Wonderland and Peter in Peter Pan, and just found that this (acting) is where I excelled most… so I pursued it.

…on Woodhouse

“A lot of girls from my old school came to Woodhouse and I’d heard good things about it. When I came to see for myself on open day I just loved it, it was such a change from school. When I first started here it seemed like a big place with so many people, but I’d had experience of meeting lots of new people at the National Youth Theatre so I wasn’t too scared and everyone was really nice.

What I like about Woodhouse is that everyone is starting afresh. You’re not going into a place that’s already full of friendship groups and cliques – everyone just wants to meet each other. I found Woodhouse to be very friendly and a great environment to learn in. The staff are so helpful, but they also encourage you to do things for yourself. I think it’s incredibly important to learn to work independently before you go to university because that’s going to be a big step up.

I loved the drama course here, it was brilliant. Unlike a lot of other schools, it focuses on the practical. At my old school, we were just given a play and we put it on, we didn’t get to study practitioners and rehearsal techniques.

I love that we did drama games at Woodhouse like ‘zip zap boing’. Making a fool of yourself in the games unites you as a company – and that’s how it felt at Woodhouse – that we were a drama company not a class. We all worked together and were comfortable with each other. You build trust, which is important because when your acting alongside someone you need the trust that you’ll make each other look good. It’s all about team work. It reminded me of my experiences at the NYT.

During the course, we went to quite a few plays – Othello by Frantic Assembly and Macbeth at the Young Vic were very good. I hung out with my drama mates a lot because we all bonded and got to know each other properly”

…on working with the National Youth Theatre

“Any drama student who is seriously ‘into drama’ should audition for the National Youth Theatre because it’s the best company. I joined when I was 14 (which is the youngest age you can join) and it was difficult to get in because they only want the best in the whole country, but I auditioned and made it.

Once you are a part of the company you get so much acting experience – it’s one of the main reasons I can begin to act professionally now.

When I was 15, I went on a two week induction course with all of these enthusiastic young people who love drama and we lived in student accommodation and worked together for two weeks. It was crazy, but for me it felt like the first time I really ‘fitted in’ as I was with people that were just as passionate about drama as me.

Since then I’ve performed at the welcoming ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, welcoming the athletes into the village – which was brilliant. Then I worked on a show called Home Grown which was a quite controversial show about islamophobia in Britain – I met some amazing people there.

Last summer, I took part in the NYT Diamond Gala Show and performed at the Shaftsbury Theatre. It was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget. We had three weeks to put on this massive show, and they had NYT alumni there too – Matt Smith (former Dr Who) was there, and Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton, Orlando Bloom… big, big names.

We had one scene where we were all on stage for a festival in tents, it was a production based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and we did little sections from the play. Matt smith was in it and my friend Billy and I had to hide in a tent with him. Billy asked Matt if we could get a photo, so we took a selfie with Matt Smith, in a tent, on the stage of the Shaftsbury Theatre – it was the weirdest experience… it was really cool.

I can’t find the words to express my appreciation for those opportunities and the stuff I’ve learnt through NYT and their contacts… I met Kate Buffery – who’s an amazing Shakespearian performer – and she ran a workshop with us about the language of Shakespeare. That helped me at Woodhouse when I studied English because I’d already covered a lot about the performance side of scripts. I also got my agent through NYT – and that’s how I got my first paid job – so NYT is such a great start because professional acting is a very hard career to pursue…”

…on working in TV

“I had the best time filming Cold Feet. I play one of the grown-up twins from the previous series, so I’m there to support the five main cast members. The writer Mike Bullen wanted to make sure that the story lines were focussed on those original five characters, so the only real view of the kids was through the eyes of the parents. Hopefully, if it goes to another series there might be a bit more focus on the kids.

Working with James Nesbitt and the rest of the cast was great and I gained lots of experience. Although some days I’d have to come in and literally say one line – spending all day saying the same line from different angles – and it doesn’t feel like I’m acting anymore because the editor becomes the performer when they are putting the scene together – I’m just saying one line again and again… and then they pick the one you were worst in because it fits with the edit.

It wasn’t a huge role, but for my first TV part I’m kind of glad because it’s a big show and I’d had no experience of film or TV – or even professional theatre. I’d have found a bigger part more pressured and quite hard, but this one meant I could still do my A levels and I travelled back from Manchester to go to college during the week. Woodhouse were great about giving me time out to go and shoot and helped me keep up with my course work.

I’ve a bigger part and a lot more airtime in the Silent Witness episodes I shot and I’m glad that happened after Cold Feet because by then I was a bit more aware of how things work on set. That said, the camera crew would still say “Can you just ‘banana’ around the set?” and I’m like ‘What!?’

To learn all the tricks of the trade when acting on camera (that you can’t pick up in a school environment) you need real experience, and it’s great that I’m getting that now.”

…on Drama

“I think that drama is one of the most valuable things you can learn because it teaches you a lot about life, how to communicate, and how to understand texts written through the ages. I don’t think its appreciated enough as a subject. It’s increased my awareness of art and that helps me to understand other cultures and how we can connect as humans by appreciating theatre together.

I saw King Lear at the National Theatre by Simon Russell Beale, all performed in Shakespearian English – and then I watched a production at the Young Vic by the Belarus Free Theatre (who are banned in their own country because their content is deemed too provocative) and the whole thing was done in Belarusian and I didn’t understand a word – but I got the same messages of the loss of power and the fear of aging that are prevalent in King Lear from both plays. It showed me what a universal thing drama is, it’s all about the human condition.

…on the future…

I’m still applying to go to university. People often go on to drama schools like RADA so that they can get an agent, but I’m lucky enough to have one already. I want to go to uni because it can feel a bit like living in a drama bubble otherwise, and I want to interact with lots of different types of people and keep on learning.

I spent a lot of time in Manchester filming Cold Feet and really like the city, so I’ll apply for a BA there, I like the look of the drama course at Manchester University because it gives you options to study other routes into the industry – be it director, writer or editor – because I’m interested in the whole creative arts world, not just performing.

Silent witness airs in January and for now (I’m on a gap year) I’m just auditioning for stuff that I probably won’t get. Acting work is sporadic so I’m also applying for a job at John Lewis to tide me over – but I’m just happy that I got my first paid acting job – Cold Feet – and that I’ve got my agent something. Hopefully it will lead to a second series for me. Fingers crossed.

Ultimately, I’d love to become a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and do Shakespeare properly – to perform at The Globe would be amazing. But I think to be a working actor is good enough for me – just to make a living at it, because it’s what I love – so to be able to do it as a career is my ambition, even it’s just little parts here and there on radio or whatever… we’ll see.”

Since our interview Daisy did get a call back from an audition and had a main role in the Christmas episode of Outnumbered as Kate, Jakes current (or not so current) girlfriend.

We wish Daisy continued success in her acting career and also her applications for university.