We don’t meet people by accident; They are meant to cross our paths for a reason, albeit a blessing or a lesson.
Great bumping into madtatterfilms this weekend - Looking forward to catching up soon!
Amaretto’s World featured on the official Asian Women Mean Business website
Visit www.asianwomenmeanbusiness.com & take a look at how founders Rupinder Kaur & Panna Chauhan take charge for Asian women in the corporate world.
Thanks ladies for the start of something new! Looking forward to more great things to come!
As featured on punjab2000.com
Bubbly 26-year-old Yorkshire lass from Leeds, Mandip Gill, Hollyoaks star who plays Phoebe McQueen talks to Punjab2000 about her role in award winning British soap in an exclusive interview with Amrit.
We were first introduced to Phoebe when she entered Channel 4′s Hollyoaks on the streets of Chester, where she then became best friends with runaway George, played by Steven Roberts. The two troubled teens sought comfort in each other as they got tangled up in a serious child grooming case. This teenage tearaway was kept on our screens by Jacqui McQueen who took her in after developing a soft spot for little Phoebe.
Amrit gets the chance to catch up with Mandip and learns more about what it’s like being an Asian and playing a character who isn’t necessarily linked to a stereotypical Asian storyline..
How long have you been in Hollyoaks now?
I’ve been in hollyoaks about two and a half years now. It has gone so ridiculously fast it’s scary.
Apart from Hollyoaks what other programmes have you been in?
Hollyoaks is my first television job. Before this I was doing theatre gigs in and around Manchester and doing a whole heap of auditions. This job came at the perfect time as I was starting to doubt my career choice for the first ever time.
How did Hollyoaks start? – Talk me through how you got this amazing opportunity…
I’d been to several auditions at Hollyoaks for different parts over the years so when this audition came around I didn’t think anything of it. The role was none race specific and if I’m honest I didn’t think the character was right for my playing range. I went through several rounds (and also lied about my love of dogs to get the part! *laughs*) I am so grateful to Emma Smithwick, the producer at the time and our current producer, Bryan Kirkwood for giving me such a great opportunity. Not once has the character been involved in any stereotypical Asian topics. Phoebe’s character isn’t seen for her race. Which I think is very rare.
Were you much of a Hollyoaks fan before you got the role?
I have older siblings who watched hollyoaks so growing up so I used to watch the soap along with all the rest of them. Weirdly my favourite family were the McQueens, so you can imagine how excited and proud I was when Phoebe became an official McQueen. It has been so amazing to be apart of such a popular soap family. Everyone knows who the McQueens are!
Are there any similarities between Phoebe’s character and yourself?
I’d like to think that weren’t that many similarities between us. I try to keep it that way when making character decisions. I’m nearly ten years older than my character so our mannerisms and characteristics are very different. I try to keep Phoebe young and a tomboy. Outside of work though, I must admit I am a little bit of a tomboy so I’d say that would be the similarity. However I don’t own half as many hoodies as Phoebe!
So you play the role of Phoebe McQueen. What is it like playing the role of someone with a different identity?
I have to say, playing a character with no race specific storylines has been amazing. They write her like any other person, her actions, decisions reactions etc are based purely on Phoebe as an individual and not on her race. Phoebe is mixed race Asian and White but we’ve only ever seen her mam. Maybe the topics will change if her dad was introduced, and rightly so in my opinion.
Do you ever get people stop you in the street or when you’re out and about like “Hey! There’s Pheobe from Hollyoaks”?
If I don’t wear makeup I get recognised! I still work in my parents newsagents on the weekends if they need me… So I just wear lots of makeup to look different. *laughs*
You’ve had some eventful story lines in Hollyoaks, what’s been your favourite and why?
My biggest storyline and I’d say favourite one, was the grooming storyline when I was introduced in the show. It saw my character meet George on the streets and together they ended up in the hands of child groomers. I enjoyed this storyline because I had meaty scripts to work with, it was very topical at the time and it was the beginning of Phoebe and George’s amazing friendship which still continues in the show now.
When you’re not filming, rehearsing or busy being an actor what do you like to get up to?
When I’m not working I like to eat! *laughs* I’m forever eating out with my friends from the show Steven, Aaron (Sonny Valentine) and Jason (Alfie Brown-Sykes). I took up knitting for a while and go to the gym in preparation for a half marathon in October – My cousin Alicia passed away last year from cancer. She was only 22 and we were all really close. The marathon I mentioned is to raise money for Alicia’s charity, www.aliciaboparai.co.uk to raise funds in her name to help other sufferers out there.
Quick Fire Questions
Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla.
Heels or Flats? Flats
Tea or Coffee? Tea. Preferably Indian tea. Coffee makes me weird…I cry!
Cats or Dogs? None! I’m petrified of dogs I stop breathing!
Breakfast or Dinner? Breakfast!
PC or MAC? MAC I hate slow things I’m so impatient
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet all day long
Scone or ‘Scon’? Scone. I’m posh!
Shower or Bath? Shower
Mum or Dad? Both! me and my siblings call them MAD (mam and dad rolled into one) they come as a package!
Amaretto’s Smokey Eye Look
Upward Facing Dog
As featured on punjab2000.com
Amrit catches up with Chandeep Uppal, Anita and Me star that played the lead character in Meera Syal’s film adaptation in 2002.
The 25-year-old tells Amrit all about how her career kicked off as an actor from the young age of 13, after she begged and pleaded her mum to take her to the casting call for Anita and Me. Uppal enjoyed drama and was encouraged by her teacher at Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield to audition. Uppal remembers the wondrous casting director Jina Jay, known for Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Atonement, The Others and so on coming to her school to tell her about her audition along with Shaheen Baig of The Others and Brick Lane.
The Birmingham born and bred thespian has always stayed true to her Brummie roots as she realised the expense to stay in London could not be covered by a 9-5 job while chasing the actor’s dream.
Working alongside Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, which started from the 8-week filming of Anita and Meallowed Uppal to be exposed to their pride in heritage. To Uppal, heritage means what her predecessors have achieved and where she comes from. She believes in the saying “you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from”.
Uppal’s doorway to the acting world was opened with Anita and Me on to other performances in BAFTA winningMy Life as a Prop Act, Holby City and Waterloo Road to name a few. In 2013 Uppal worked alongside James Corden and Matthew Baynton in The Wrong Man and also appeared in Mount Pleasant.
Here’s more on Amrit’s exclusive interview with the star who played Meena of Anita and Me…
1. You were just 13 when you got the role! So, how old were you when you first began acting?
Anita and Me was my first acting job. Before doing it I hadn’t got any acting experience but I would say that I took it on ‘professionally’ when I was 18.
2. What was the reaction of your friends and family during this time?
I actually got told I had the part during the school holidays so I wasn’t at school to share it with everyone, but my family were really excited. I don’t think you ever really imagine that you or someone close to you will get a chance like that, so it was amazing. Also we were such huge fans of Goodness Gracious Me, so getting the chance to work with and learn from Sanjeev and Meera was more than I could ask for.
3.Filming Anita and Me you got to work with some amazing names in the industry. Tell me what it was like working with the likes of the novel writer Meera Syal herself, Sanjeev Bhaskar and of course the late Zohra Sehgal.
Meera is such an intelligent woman and although I didn’t necessarily understand it at the time, the story is so close to her heart that her passion for it was unmistakeable. She was always there on set with us to contextualise what was going on and to support us. I think that both her and Sanj have championed the fact that comedy with Asian characters isn’t just for Asian people, but also that your heritage is a huge part of you. And they’ve never pretended to be anything other than what they are.
And of course it was an honour to have worked with Zohra. I’m sure that anyone who has worked with her will agree that her energy is unreal. It was really funny because between takes she would sit down peacefully and quietly, then when the camera was rolling before you knew it she was pulling out this great big Kirpan with all of her might!
4. The Kirpan scene is no doubt one of my favourite scenes from the film, but on a serious note her role in the film played a significant part to Meena at that transitional time in her life. Is there anything that you took on board from this?
Zohra was actually only on set for a few days, but I remember Meera telling me how much her Dadima (grandma) meant to her. And at that age children do feel the difference in generations between their parents. Parents always tend to nag and moan, they’re not fun but in the film it was important for me as Meena to see the free spirit in Zohra. Now, I can see that I was too young to understand at the time but in hindsight I can fully relate to it.
5. Since the film, what doors did that open up for your career?
The main thing that it did for me professionally was allow me to get an agent. It’s really difficult to pursue an acting career and get auditions without one. But personally it taught me a lot about discipline and how to behave in the workplace. Everyone on set from Meera to Kathy Burke to Lyn Redrgrave was so professional. They always respected the crew, were never late and knew their lines. This was a great example to me as a new, young actress.
6. I understand that you didn’t study to become an actor in terms of the traditional footsteps of university. What advice do you have for young people facing the expectation of going to university?
I would say if you are going to give those three years of your life to university make sure that you’re not just doing it because ‘that’s the done thing’. Do it because you are going to study something that you love. It doesn’t matter if you come out of university and do something that is totally unrelated to your degree because nobody expects you at the age of 18, to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Make the choice that is right for you at that time, but know that what is right for you will always change. So, if when you’re 30 you decide that it is right for you to embark on a journey of education again, that’s ok. I didn’t go to university because it wasn’t right for me. I really didn’t want to sit in a lecture hall and have to write essays. I just didn’t have the passion for it. I wanted to work because that’s what I was and still am passionate about. I’ve always wanted to create my own life and for me university couldn’t give me the freedom of choice I’m always looking for.
7. Who is your inspiration and who would you most like to work with, and why?
My inspiration is and always will be my grandfather. I always work to continue the hard work that he started (if I can!). At the moment I’d love to work with Lenny Henry because I think that the work he is doing to campaign for ethnic diversity within the entertainment industry is brilliant. He makes great points about diversity not just being what you see on screen but that it’s to do with commissioners, directors, writers, producers – everyone. I think that it’s really important the media register the impact of the lack of diversity on public attitudes. I think they need to take more responsibility with whose working behind the scenes to properly portray modern life on our screens.
Quick fire questions:
Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
Heels or Flats? Flats
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Cats or Dogs? Dogs – I have a King Charles called Buddy
Breakfast or Dinner? Breakfast
PC or MAC? MAC
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet
Scone or ‘Scon’? Scone
Shower or Bath? Bath
Mum or Dad? Always a daddy’s girl!
As featured on punjab2000.com
Sehgal began her career in 1935 with Uday Shankar performing internationally in countries in America and Japan. Her career stretched over 60 years entertaining Indian and non-Indian audiences with performances on stage and film.
Sehgal’s film appearances include top films such as Saawariya, English-speaking films such as Bend it Like Beckham, Anita and Me and Bhaji on The Beach to name a few, and earlier films like Neecha Naga. At 90-years-old Sehgal was given the lead role in Chalo Ishq Ladaaye. She also acted in the British television series Doctor Who from 1964-1965, rumouring to be the longest-living actress to have appeared on the show. The extraordinary actress was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, in 2010, other awards including Padma Shri in 1998, Kalidas Samman in 2001, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2004.
This empowering female figure inspired lives of many Asian women as she pursued her dream career in acting opposed to following the traditional steps into marriage.
The individual’s comic and light-hearted nature shone through her performances and leave behind a legacy of her incredible energy. Punjab2000 pays tribute to a legend of Indian cinema as Amrit comments, “What an influential woman to have achieved so much in age of the Purdah. A true inspiration who changed the view of women in the creative industry.”