Actor Sophia Brown talks how to smash an audition tape and ticking off bucket list goals.
“Be ready, be prepared, and try not to overthink” is a mantra that actor Sophia Brown stands by with every audition she lands. Whether you’ve watched the action series The Witcher: Blood Origin, or are a die-hard fan of the National Theatre, Sophia Brown is a name you won’t have missed. Securing her initial claim to fame with recurring roles in TV shows Marcella and Clique, throughout the last eight years she has established herself as a multifaceted actor to watch within the forever evolving sphere of theatre, TV and film.
Ambitious from a very young age, Sophia first took an interest in running before discovering her destined path as an actor. Utilising the skills she learnt from running to push her own limits with projects elsewhere, she’s continued to channel this drive into progressing her acting career. Since the global pandemic, Sophia says she has been eager to “give it my all”, and so far has gone above and beyond.
Whilst only two months into 2023, this year is looking to be a standout for the actor. Having recently landed a role in The Crucible and been scheduled to make an appearance in a new thriller called Borderland this summer, Sophia spoke to us about building character bios and playlists for each of her roles, and ticking off her bucket list goals. Take a read.
2023 is looking to be a really exciting year for you… Let’s start with your recent role in the National Theatre’s The Crucible. It recently went live in cinemas worldwide, what was that experience like? It must have been interesting seeing something go from stage to screen?
Yeah, theatre and stage were pretty much my first loves. It was amazing to be able to be back on stage and to do such a grand, classical text such as The Crucible because it’s a text that people do in GCSE. I didn’t do it, but my sister did it. Being able to be a part of bringing that story to life has been so much fun.
Also, I love Lyndsey Turner [who directed it]. I was familiar with her work beforehand. I was so excited to work alongside her. It was a great journey, especially since I started doing that after filming The Witcher. It was nice to go from something that was very high spec on-screen to something that was very grand in the theatre. It felt like I was exercising different muscles as an actor, which is always something I want to be doing.
You have a new and exciting role in Russell T Davies’s limited series You & Me, which is scheduled to go live at the end of this month. Were you a fan of Russell’s work before you took the part?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, Russell’s a staple figure in terms of British TV and film. I knew of his work, and am a fan of his work. Of course, I wanted to work with Russell T Davies, but what always brings me to projects is the script and the character. It was a bonus that Russell T Davies was doing it, because obviously he brings such weight to the things that he brings to life. It was really cool working with him, to be able to ask him questions and have him on hand was really valuable in terms of work. I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my career and only scratching the surface, so to have somebody like Russell to hand is really valuable.
Alongside the script, what else drew you to the role?
I really enjoyed the idea and the feeling of playing a normal person. The simplicity of figuring out who you are – I think that’s what everyone’s journey really is, you know? ‘Who am I? What do I want to do?’ They’re the questions I think everybody asks themselves. There wasn’t a grandiose storyline or crime or illustrious thriller, it was a simple tale as old as time about a person discovering their identity.
You mentioned that you first fell in love with theatre and stage. Was there a particular play or screenwriter that sparked your love for this industry?
The first film I remember watching was with my dad. It was Gypsy, the musical. I remember it incorporating so much drama. Being able to do school musicals and plays was a big moment for me as I realised that there was nothing else I would want to be doing with my day.
What really turned me on to film was after I graduated from university. I realised that musical theatre was not for me and I decided that I wanted to go back to doing straight theatre. The cheapest thing for me to do at the time was to go to the cinema, I just fell in love with it and decided to go back to trying out theatre. I don’t know if there was one particular film that made me go, ‘This is what I want to do. I think it happened quite silently over time. But I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was about 15.
The show is a comedic drama about finding love when you least expect it. Was that something you could relate to? Or did you find some external inspiration for this one?
Jess not coming from London definitely resonated with me. Harry has the same experience of not being from London. The show also deals with young parenthood, which isn’t something that I can relate to, but it’s something that has opened my eyes. I also loved the idea of how Ben and Jess found each other in the storyline. That feeling of falling in love, where you feel like you’re swimming in open water, and you don’t know how deep it is below you – I enjoyed exploring that. Also, those feelings really resonated with me and my past relationships and friendships.
Towards the end of 2022 you bagged an incredible role as Éile in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Could you tell me a bit about the show?
The show is set 1200 years before Geralt of Rivia, which is the beginning of the Markee series. It was a daunting task. I really wanted to make sure that I poured everything into that role during the process of making it, particularly because it was at a time when we were in several versions of lockdown. It really came at the most perfect time for me to be honest, because it resurrected a lot of my creativity and my artistry. I had such a great time doing it and working alongside Laurence O’Fuarain.
It got released on Christmas Day which was quite strange because we had already wrapped on it more than a year before it got released, so I had, in a way, already released that character by the time it came out. It was an amalgamation of so many feelings, but I can look back on shooting and know that I had a wonderful time doing it. Fantasy wasn’t something that was necessarily my go-to genre to watch, but my dad loves horror, so I knew that he would be into it. I was excited to play a character that I knew he would enjoy. He also got to be a part of the show – I got him in as one of the extras. There were so many moments on that job that were bucket list dreams for me.
Throughout your career, you’ve showcased your effortless versatility within multiple genres. How do you find adjusting, specifically in this case of sci-fi thriller into comedic drama? Is there a genre you feel most comfortable working in?
I would love to say that I straddle all or meander through all of them, but I don’t know if I could say it myself. I definitely would love to throw my hat in the ring more with comedy. It’s definitely something I don’t feel comfortable with, and I would love to try it. I think being able to play as an actor in a comedy is probably the highest form of art (for me as an actor). I just want to explore it all. I don’t want to be boxed in and if I do feel boxed in, I immediately want to go somewhere else and try something new.
How do you prepare for each of your roles?
I write a long character bio to make sure that I know their worlds. I will write things such as what they like for breakfast, or whether they have siblings. I like to build their world as strong as possible, so that I’m as familiar with the character as I am with my sister, or myself. I think once I’ve written and answered random questions that I’ve asked myself, I then try to sometimes live in that person for a little bit. I also really like to make playlists of what music they would listen to. Once I’ve got that playlist I’ll have it in the background when I’m learning my lines, or if I’m going through the script.
Did acting always feel like a career that was accessible to you?
My parents definitely instilled that anything was possible if you work hard for it, and go for it. When I was younger, I would go through a phase of ‘I want to be an astronaut’ and think that was possible as long as I put the steps in to achieve that. I come from an athletic background, I wanted to be a runner when I was younger. There were always goals set. I wanted to run for my county and in order to do that I needed to make sure that I was running at certain paces and certain distances in PE. I took many things from wanting to be a runner to my acting career and journey.
With all your experience over the last few years, what would be your advice for go-to steps for smashing an audition tape?
I would say my top tip is to set yourself a limited amount of time to do it. I always set myself around an hour to an hour and a half to do my auditions. I also think you should try and set it up as a real-life audition as much as possible, otherwise it ends up feeling too relaxed for me and I can’t really get my head in the right place. Also be ready, be prepared, and try not to overthink. I think the best self-tapes or the best auditions happen when you are prepared but are also relaxed.
You seem very much booked and busy… With so much happening already, I want to ask how you manage your time? What’s your key to staying afloat whilst working on such a busy schedule?
I mean, I really love doing it. I’m at the point in my career where I just want to go 100 miles an hour. Post-pandemic, I’m ready to give it my all. I do like to chill with my friends or have a classic laptop-open-in-bed-watching-complete-trash moment. Sometimes I’ll put on a podcast and walk as long and as far as I can throughout London, I love doing that too.
And lastly, what are you hoping to tick off your bucket list this year?
Going to Japan. If it could be for work that would be so lovely, but either way that’s definitely on my bucket list. I’ve got many things I want to do this year on a personal level and professionally. But let’s be honest, a professional bucket list is forever growing and forever changing. I’m excited to see how the year pans out and what’s to come.