3 April 2011
A cut-glass accent and the ability to look good in a bonnet used to be a must for young British actresses looking to secure their careers. Nowadays, however, such skills are more of a hindrance. As the recent array of debut performances from tough-talking teenagers shows, directors and producers are increasingly looking for starlets who are more at home in a hoodie than a horse-drawn carriage.
...Top of the league of this foul-mouthed brand of talent are the award-winning Vicky McClure, 28, who played Lol in Shane Meadows's This is England series, and Derby-born Lauren Socha, 20, who made a big impression in Samantha Morton's film about the care system, The Unloved, and who now plays Kelly in E4's hit series Misfits. "Lauren finds a way of being utterly herself on screen and yet her performance is much cleverer than it might at first appear. Her comic timing is faultless and she has real emotional authenticity too," said Petra Fried, executive producer of Misfits.
...Socha, in contrast, tends to stick to her own accent and plays quirky, street-wise characters. "No one understands my accent," she said recently. "I'm constantly going to auditions and being told they don't like how I talk. You have to live with criticism and I don't take it personally. But I'm going to a voice coach now to learn how to speak proper."
Since the "street" style of speech among young people is deliberately heightened, it can be hard to see where a strong personality ends and acting begins. An ability to convey emotion on screen is crucial, says Fried.