- Words Laviea Thomas
- Photo Credit The Other Richard
Bad Education star and award-winning performer Layton Williams tells us about his new lead TV role, coaching, and 2023 manifestations.
From landing roles in West End musicals as a child, to working as a singer-songwriter, and now managing his own dance company, Layton Williams is a name not to be forgotten. Best known for his portrayal of Stephen Carmichael in TV series Bad Education, Layton continues to cement his status as the ultimate triple-threat, singing, dancing and acting his way into the spotlight.
Before securing his recurring role in Bad Education, a new series of which is due this month, the actor has premiered across a variety of shows including the American debut of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. No stranger to on-screen work, last December also saw Layton feature in Billie Piper’s three-part Christmas special series I Hate Suzie Too.
Currently delving into a new venture of screenwriting, Layton is about to embark on a brand-new series of Bad Education as a co-writer on one of the episodes. 2023 is already looking to be a great year for the young performer, as he’s also set to further develop his workshop ‘Pros from The Shows’ with a new program titled ‘SLAY Club’.
We spoke to the star about returning to Bad Education as the new series lead, his biggest personal milestones and the key to managing his own well-being.
Let’s talk about some of your upcoming projects. You’re scheduled to return to Bad Education as the new series lead. What are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to hopefully making people laugh. I’m really excited to let people into Stephen’s world because it’s pretty crazy, but in the most fabulous sense. We’ve worked so hard on it, I’m bursting to let people see it, I just want to get it out there.
How long have you known you’d have this new role?
It’s been way over a year. When I got the call from Jack Whitehall saying that it was actually happening it was my last day on holiday. I was at my cousin’s wedding in Cancún and I was already having holiday blues as I was packing up my suitcase. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m flying home to my first leading role in a TV comedy’. This is major for me, it was such a pat on the back moment and realisation that I’d gotten the gig.
Bad Education has been on air for 10 years now. As a character that’s been there from the start, how has it felt to be a part of this series for such a long time?
I’m really proud because it’s made so many people happy, and that’s what you ultimately want when you’re making a comedy. People also really cared when we had our last episode, it was very emotional. To be three seasons in, with a movie, we’re all just so invested. I’ve made so many friendships and have had such a good time because we all grew up together. Being able to revisit it was very nostalgic, but now I’ve got a bigger job to do and it feels so comfortable to be able to do that in a space where I know I’ve already been that girl.
Something that’s a little bit different about your return is that you’ve actually written on this series. How did this opportunity come about?
I was dabbling in writing during lockdown. My co-writer Rhys Taylor and I had a similar idea when we were working on Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
I sent a script to my producers at Bad Education, and one to Jack Whitehall. I really wanted to be a part of the creative process. I sent a script in just like everybody else and they loved it. It’s all about putting yourself in positions you’d never thought you would be in because honestly, we can really surprise ourselves. Also, I don’t want to boast too much, but my episode slaps.
You also recently featured on the second series of Billie Piper’s three-part show I Hate Suzie Too. Can you tell us a bit about this project?
Yeah, I Hate Suzie Too was such an amazing show. I’m playing a character called Adam, he’s the presenter of the dance show that Billie Piper’s character enrols in. I auditioned for an off-stage presenter and when I walked out of the audition I saw somebody and thought to myself: ‘they’re probably up for the same role as me’, so I walked back in and auditioned as a dancer/choreographer.
Alongside being an actor and screenwriter, you’re also a dancer and a singer – it’s pretty clear you’re gifted! How do you find the time to do all of the above?
Do you know what, that is something that I am definitely going to be reassessing in the New Year. I’m speaking with my therapist (get your therapy if you can kids), because I’m doing way too much.
One minute I’m doing a TikTok, the next minute I’m writing, or I’m acting, singing, doing a dance workshop, or running my dance company. There are a lot of fingers in pies and I don’t want to burn out. I’m very good at keeping on track, but things are getting crazier and I need to delegate, even if it comes to having someone come in and help sort out my admin. I know I’m not the best at doing everything so if you can come in with a cute diary and help me pull things together that’s great.
Did you grow up in a creative background or environment? Did you always know you wanted a career in the arts?
Absolutely not. I didn’t start performing until I got my first job. I was a relatively normal kid, I was a bit crazy, and a bit extroverted, but I spent years of my life in the closet as a kid. I grew up in my council estate, I didn’t even know what London was. I didn’t know much about acting, I think I wanted to be a dentist at one point or I wanted to be a tennis player.
Did your career feel achievable or viable when you were younger or not really?
Well, it was achievable because I was already doing it. No joke, my first-ever audition was for Billy Elliot in the West End. My second audition was for a show called Beautiful People on BBC, which had two seasons starring Olivia Colman, and Sarah Isles who is smashing it – she’s been up for an Academy Award and played my first on-screen mom.
Amongst working on various TV shows, you also direct ‘Pros From The Shows’ a programme that provides high-quality workshops for young performers – what made you realise you wanted to create something like this?
I was in between work and my downtime moments were hard. I love dancing, it’s at my core, it’s my first love really. I love giving back and teaching, I’ve been teaching since I was around 16 years old. When I started doing musicals and shows I had a lot of repertoires and knew I could give to students.
I started Dance with Layton in the summers when I was free. I would go to around 30 dance schools by myself everyday from the top of the country all the way down via train. I’ve put in a lot of graft, people would constantly try to book me and that’s when I decided to make ‘Pros From The Shows’. I gave my friends and colleagues work, and it became an agency called ‘SLAY Club’. There’s one in Sheffield, London, and Bury (where I’m from). We will officially launch it this year as a space for people to be creative around like-minded people.
Now that you’ve been able to grow this into such a large project, what would you say is your biggest personal milestone you’ve been able to tick off?
I’ve got to say last year might potentially be the biggest tick of my life. Working in America, Los Angeles, landing a lead role in a musical, and getting the opportunity to travel the world and work. I went to some pretty epic places last year: Palm Springs, Paris, Venice etc.
I never have, and never will take a day for granted. If I’ve got an opportunity to work somewhere I will try to add two days on either side to explore where I’m going. Another huge tick in my life is the fact I’ve bought a flat. Never did I ever think that someone like me would be able to buy a flat in zone two in London. I’m really happy, proud and grateful for everybody who’s helped me along the way.
What advice do you think you would give to yourself as a young performer that you’ve learnt?
I would say: keep doing you, and be proud of yourself as you are going to excel more when you fully step into your true authentic self.
With all the exciting shows you’re about to embark on, on top of dancing, singing and writing, I imagine this might feel overwhelming from time to time. What’s your go-to ritual to help keep on top of your workload and general well-being?
I love a zen moment, I love to meditate, get myself a massage, or go away to chill and unwind.
And lastly, do you believe in manifestations? What are you manifesting for 2023?
I do. I’d say more life, more love and more happiness.