By Holly Cozens

Sussex actress Dakota Blue Richards burst onto our screens for the first time in 2007 as young Lyra in ‘The Golden Compass’. She has gone on to star in several other films and the incredibly popular E4 show ‘Skins’. While shooting a film with John Hurt back in July, Richards took time out to have a chat with us about her new mentor role within Brighton’s Young Actors Group.

How did you first get involved with the Young Actors Group?
Having worked together on short film ‘Girl Power’, Ben approached me with his idea to form the Young Actors Group. He felt that I could offer something valuable, and the more we discussed it the more intrigued I became about getting involved. I’ve never studied drama myself, and would not claim to possess the skills necessary to teach somebody to act (I’ll leave that to Ben!). What I can offer is my experience in the world of professional acting and the film industry, as well as practical and emotional mentoring for those looking to start
their careers.

How do you think it will benefit young actors as opposed to normal acting schools?
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Those who can’t do, teach.’ What is special about the Young Actors Group is that the lessons we are hoping to pass on to aspiring young actors are based on real experience. Both Ben and I ‘do’ as well as teach and have developed, over our careers, a very detailed knowledge of the film industry. We also offer a support base for parents as well as for our young actors, because we know how overwhelming it can be for everyone involved. I have been where these kids are.I don’t think there are many people who can say that. Our aim is not only to develop their acting skills, but also to make sure that they, and their families, are  properly prepared and supported at every stage. In this way, I think we are quite unique.

What tips do you have for aspiring actors in the city?
We are hoping to feature some of my top tips as part of the course, which I am very excited to be doing. But the main tip I have is to be strong. Although this business is incredibly fun and very rewarding, it can also be very hard work and at times it can feel quite unforgiving. It is important to have faith in yourself and to  surround yourself with people that will be supportive and give you good advice. For me that person has always been my mum, for these kids, maybe it can be Ben and me.

Was acting always your ambition? If not, what else were you interested in when you were younger?
Acting was never my ambition. I would have loved to be an actor, and I do love being an actor. But as a child I considered acting, along with singing, and becoming a princess to be highly unrealistic career paths for me.

How do you feel your acting has evolved since your debut role in The Golden Compass?
I was very inexperienced when I did ‘The Golden Compass’. I would like to think that my acting has improved and I’ve become more comfortable performing and being on set. I’ve challenged myself with different roles and I’ve worked hard. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with a lot of very talented, experienced and inspirational people, and I’ve always tried to learn as much as I can from them.

What would be your ultimate role and whom would you most love to work with?
I don’t have a singular ultimate role that I’d like to play. I can think of a few books I’d love to be in if they were ever turned into films, for example The Master, and Margarita is one of my favourites as is The Secret History. I’d love to work with Angelina Jolie. She’s been one of my favourite actresses for some time now, and I’d treasure the experience and the opportunity to learn from her.

When you come home to Brighton, what are your favourite things to do in the city?
I like to go for walks with my dog in the beautiful countryside around Brighton. I love being able to spend hot days on the beach when it’s not too busy, and wandering around the lanes. Brighton is also great in the  evenings, there’s loads of lovely places to eat like Terre á Terre and Moshi Moshi. For great live music on evenings out, the Casablanca Jazz Club can’t be beaten.

The Young Actors Group is partnered with critically acclaimed theatre, Emporium, and will be launching this summer with auditions at the theatre on Sun 17 and Sat 23 Aug with a view to starting classes in September.

A term costs £172.00 and The Young Actors Group are looking to enter into partnerships with local businesses to support parents who can’t afford the full fees.

If you would like to get in touch about this or to book a place on the auditions then go to www.theyoungactorsgroup.com for more information and drop an email to: info@theyoungactorsgroup.com

Image © by Jack Alexander