DDW sits down with The Light in The Hall actress Alexandra Roach to talk about Yes Mate, RESTING, and her latest acting ventures.
Welsh actor Alexandra Roach stumbled upon the world of acting at 11 years old. I say ‘stumbled’ because the whole thing was incredibly serendipitous – her words, not mine. She’d been out on the weekend, knocking on her neighbour’s front door for her to come outside and play in the garden, but instead found her friend busy with an acting workshop of some kind. “There’s room in the car, if you wanna come?”
Roach did join, the day-long class costing her a whopping 5 pounds. Dare I say the best 5 pounds she’s probably ever spent, as coincidentally that was the day a casting director rocked up to the drama lesson in pursuit of a welsh speaking 11-year old for a running series. Roach, having nothing to lose and armed with her youthful bravery, auditioned. A few days later her kitchen house phone rang; she’d booked the role. Roach remembers her 11-year old self thinking this meant she wouldn’t have to go to school as much, a win-win in any child’s eyes.
Now at 35 years-old, Roach is a celebrated actor. We’ve seen her as DS Joy Freers in Channel 4’s No Offence, or Sky’s Hunderby, and more recently in Channel 4’s The Light in The Hall alongside Iwan Rheon and Joanna Scanlan.
Alexandra and I decide to chat on a Friday morning, just after she’s recovering from a cold that left her voice-less for the better part of the previous week. Whatever virus has been going round must’ve made its way to Bristol, where the actress is currently based. Having previously lived in London for 10 years, Alex is no stranger to being away from home – which is precisely what drew her into the role of Kat in The Light in The Hall in the first place.
“It’s a story about her going home to her hometown.” She tells me. “But for me… I’ve been wanting to work in the Welsh language for years and I’ve been, you know, trying to seek out the right project.” Turns out the right project was in fact The Light in The Hall, filmed in a location almost as serendipitous as Roach’s career kickstart; Carmarthenshire, where she grew up.
Despite the resemblance between Kat and Roach both returning to their roots years after leaving their hometowns, both women couldn’t be more different. Whilst adjectives such as reserved and “lone-wolf” are better suited for Kat, Alex in contrast comes across as bubbly and outgoing. When talking about Roach’s previous release, This is Christmas, a romantic comedy where Adam (Alfred Enoch) decides to invite a bunch of strangers on his daily train commute to a Christmas party, I realise Roach strikes me as someone that would probably do something similar in real life. I’m not wrong.
“This is totally something that I would do! I think since lockdown I’m really, leaning into things that give a sense of community.” She affirms. “I’m definitely one for like creating, or bringing people together. I get a sense of joy out of that and, you know, if I was on a train and saw people that kind of felt like they needed something to celebrate, I would definitely put that on, for sure.”
A community is precisely what Alexandra Roach is currently working on with her project, RESTING, a global acting group looking to build a support network for actors through workshops, classes and talks. Launching on January the 21st, RESTING deals with the challenges of the career’s emotional rollercoasters, something with Roach speaks about openly.
“As actors, especially if, you know, you’re not with somebody that’s an actor or if you haven’t got many friends that are actors, you kind of need those people that get the industry ’cause it’s so weird and unique. Sometimes you need to check in with other actors and be like, this happened to me, is that okay? Or you know, I haven’t heard back from this job, is that all right?” Roach says.
Also on Alexandra’s agenda is Yes Mate, a company which writes and produces original and commissioned ideas for film and TV, and which Roach co-founded alongside Jenny Duffy. The two apparently met on the dance floor, which as this chat rolls on I find incredibly fitting to Roach’s personality. Her favourite genres to shimmy to you may ask? Pop, house and disco, she tells me, and excitingly admits she’s heading out to Charlotte Church’s Pop Dungeon soon.
Dance moves and club nights aside, Alexandra Roach is full of exciting optimism. What does she not want to die wondering about though? “What it’ was’s like to travel and experience different cultures. I feel like I’ve been acting since I was young and even though I have traveled with my work, it’s always been… with work. It really does feel like I want to go and experience new cultures and really immerse myself in other country’s traditions and, um, yeah, travel. That’s what I wanna do.”
Photography: Mark Gregson | @_tanzaro
Styling: Aimee Croysdill
Styling Assistant: Caroline Menkes