Tag Archives: Actress

Q&A with Leading Colombian Actress and ‘Therapy’ star Juliana Betancourth

Juliana Betancourth, industry-leading actress in Colombia, is known for her talent and versatility. She has starred in countless acclaimed productions, from Bite! to La Reina de Sur. Her most recent project, Therapy, allows worldwide audiences to once again appreciate her outstanding acting capabilities.

After the great reception that the short theater play Terapia had, winning several awards of the Short & Sweet: Hollywood 2017, an adaptation of the script was made. Betancourth in the lead role of Marina, is a self-sacrificing wife who during couples therapy is discovering disturbing secrets about her husband, which causes a turning point in the story to show us a darker side of this character. Each one has a secret to reveal that seems to indicate that there is no way to fix the marriage, but the perverse sexual hobbies and fetishes of both end up uniting them and committing the greatest monstrosities; impacting the life of the person who tried to help them: their therapist. Betancourth develops an exquisite multidimensional, sensual and violent character.

The film crew is composed of successful filmmakers in Los Angeles, such as director Jhonatan Tabares, director of photography Jaime Salazar, Producer Yaniv Waisman, among others. A group that has been developing different audiovisual pieces for the Latin American industry in Hollywood.

The premiere was at the Panamanian International Film Festival, where the film took home the top prize. It then did the same at the Panamanian International Film Festival 2018 and the ELCO Film Festival, with many more expected this year.

We had a chance to sit down with Betancourth to talk about the making of this critically-acclaimed film.

IFR: Why did you want to work on this project?

JB: I already had an emotional connection with the project, and with the character of Marina who had allowed me to access very deep places acting wise.

The premise of this artistic piece was wonderful. It had a completely unexpected turning point, which was exciting for me, and as an actress it allowed me to play practically two roles in one.

I also liked working with the team involved that was composed of producers, director, cinematographer, and actors whom I’ve always admired.

IFR: Why did you want to work on this project?

JB: Therapy started as a theater play, and was directed by Jhonatan Tabares. Due to the great success it had, the Super Hero Latina production company run by Tanya Mordacci wanted to turn it into a film.

Everyone involved in the project already knew my acting work. They had seen me in the lead role in the Virginia Casta movie, and many other projects that were seen in Mexico and the United States. Also, with Jhonatan, we had already worked on previous pilots for TV shows. He knew me personally. We had already worked together in the stage version of Therapy.  It is very important when accepting a project to not only like the script, but also the quality of people who are part of it.

IFR: What do you like about the story?

JB: The story of this project is one of the most interesting in which I have worked. It is fiction, but it is an experiment that brings us closer to the understanding of human psychology. To that infinite universe of our mind, of the decisions we make and our behavior towards society.

I love that the story is transgressive. That it is perpetuated in the mind of the audience. That they want to stop seeing it, but they cannot look away. I am fascinated by social experiments.

This is why the premise of this story is important, it is also not far from reality. Within our communities are these types of dangerous individuals that are the product of our shortcomings as a society; of our injustices and oppressions; but each viewer is free to draw their own conclusions.

IFR: What was it like working on this project?

JB: The process with the director Jhonatan Tabares was special. There were many hours of rehearsals, finding the characters, their motivations, their actions, and their arcs through the written words and physical work.

I studied the behaviors of the most dangerous serial killers in world history, especially couples like Charlene & Gerald Galician, Raymond Fernandez & Martha Beck, Bonnie & Clyde, among others. I wanted to know the reasons why they killed their victims, the way they did it, and the satisfaction they found in it.

One of the things that I liked most about this project was working alongside my colleagues Ramón Valdez and Fernanda Kelly, two great Mexican actors. Also, the producer Tanya Mordacci, producer Yaniv Waisman, and the always supportive Vange Tapia. Director of photography Jaime Salazar, still photo Elena Rojas, and all those who were part of this family made this an unforgettable experience.

IFR: What was your character like?

JB: Marina is a supposed self-sacrificing woman. A Latina who lives in the United States, and who depends economically and emotionally on her husband, but this is just an act and part of a macabre game she carries out with her partner. At the turning point, we will see the real Marina, a psychopath, who finds sexual pleasure in seeing her victims die.

It is a dark character, with complex psychology, special motivations and very different from conventional characters. Marina all the time is playing at being another woman different from who she is. She is a kind of actress, but her performances hide macabre intentions.

It was very interesting to work on this character because the unexpected turning point leaves the audience surprised based on how Marina was from the beginning.  She plays the role of a sheep beautifully, but in reality, she is a hungry wolf.

IFR: How did your character fit into the story?

JB: There are only three characters in the whole movie. Marina, although initially playing the role of victim in therapy with the couple’s psychologist, crying and accusing her husband of being abusive, ends up being the mastermind with a criminal plan.

Driven by her desires and impulses, she mentally dominates her partner to commit the homicides while she enjoys the process and destruction it causes. It is an incredibly complex character, one that generates uncomfortable feelings from the audience when they realize the true objective of the two main characters.

Without Marina, there is no Therapy.

IFR: What did you like about working on this project?

JB: Working on this project has been one of the best experiences of my life. Connecting with so many talented people, who have become my friends, and will be people I plan to work with again in my future projects. It was great to work and build this character, to keep experimenting until we found what worked best, and have direct and honest communication with the director.

Art projects fascinate me because it is not about business and how much money we can make, but more about character, story, and connections with the cast and crew to make a film or TV show that moves people and makes them think. That is always a beautifully motivating factor for me.

IFR: What else did you like about working on this project?

JB: We filmed in one location. The office of the psychologist. The final scene was exhausting and dramatic, that we could only film in two sequences. We both were spent when the director finally called cut.

In the play, there was no character of the psychologist. It was just a voice, and we broke the fourth wall when speaking to the voice, which made it feel like to the audience that we were speaking with them. In the film, Fernanda Kelly played the role of the psychologist, and she was marvelous in it. It was amazing to act opposite her, and it lifted our performances to another level.

IFR: How does it feel knowing the project has been such a success?

JB: I knew it would be a resounding success since I had first read the script, and saw the reaction when performing it as a theater piece. I fully trusted the director’s work, and my own. I had no doubt about the success it has had and will have for the next few years.

When you do a project, you do not think about prizes, you know if the project is good or not regardless of the recognition or criticism you receive, but I would be wrong if I said that it is not rewarding to receive the accolades.

Each time we have received these awards for Therapy I have celebrated them. I feel proud. It fuels my fire, and I long to do more great work with excellent projects.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee
Photo by Vinny Randazzo 

Hannah Ryan Shows the Darker Side of the Hollywood Dream in American Eggs

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Americans are not the only ones who can find an interesting take on other cultures. Brothers Callum Rory Mitchell and Lewis Mitchell are sons of famed Australian actor Mark Mitchell (star of Banff Award and Logie Award-Winning television series Round the Twist) and TV creators in their own right. The siblings are bringing their own funny and somewhat dark take on Hollywood in the series American Eggs. They’ve included some substantial Aussie talent in the role of Cordelia, thanks to actress Hannah Ryan. The series depicts what LA thinks it wants to be versus what it really is. It’s an ideal and entertaining presentation of a microcosm of the American state of mind in a very unsteady environment. Ryan presents Cordelia as someone starkly different than the California dream girl one might envision. There’s plenty of depth and substance to Cordelia; so much so that it’s difficult to think of anyone else than Hannah Ryan filling this role.

 

There are more than enough films and television productions which profess to the glamour and excitement of Los Angeles & Hollywood; American Eggs is not one of these. The story begins with Pony (the protagonist) face down in the street after being robbed. He’s just one of a host of characters who skirt the borderline of decay and decadence in an attempt to simply get by in Southern California. Pony doesn’t long for fame but rather just to be a part of the action in this fickle and somewhat precarious city. The story follows him as he rubs elbows with the almost famous, the semi-influential, and those with potential; refusing in spite of his experiences to realize that LA is not the place he dreamt it would be.

 

Cordelia [Hannah] sees herself as a an up and coming skin care entrepreneur. In reality, she might be the most frightening person in the entire series. In order to avoid going to jail, Cordelia has locked a group of women in her own house after an unfortunate turn of events. At best, she’s made a major mistake; at worst, she’s unhinged and breaking from reality. No aspect presents this better than when Cordelia moves out of town to work at a donut shop in an attempt to hide out from the repercussions of her actions. She’s entitled and lacking the normal borders that construct ethical actions. The cast (which includes Rhys Mitchell of The Happy Worker with Thomas Haden Church) is given ample latitude by the director to explore a spectrum of mesmerizing and at times disturbing character motivations. Ryan relates, “I take it as a complement that the Mitchell brothers who are the creators contacted me and asked me to play the part. I’d previously acted with their bother Rhys Mitchell (cast in Oscar-winning director David Lynch’s upcoming film) and they felt I was ideal for Cordelia. She’s a desperate girl who is a hermit, lonely and trying to figure a way out of her predicament. She certainly provided me with a lot of great ideas as an actress.”

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Australia’s Stephanie Evison Williams talks ‘Lazy Boy’ and truthful acting

Stephanie Evison Williams’ day always starts with a coffee. She then will walk her dog and head to a fitness class. She knows how you begin your day as an actress is vital to your success. It is about getting in the right headspace, so when she walks on set she is someone else entirely. She devotes herself completely to those she portrays, even trying to dream about future scenes while embodying her character. That, for Evison Williams, is what being an actress is all about.

From a young age, Evison Williams loved musical theatre, and as an overly creative kid and sometimes, as she describes, a loud child, she found her way into acting. In her high school years, she played Sally Bowles in a small production of Cabaret and that was when she knew. There was nothing else in this world she wanted to pursue, and since that time, she has devoted herself solely to acting, quickly rising and becoming one of Australia’s most sought-after actresses.

“I love the people, like-minded creative people who observe the world slightly differently to most, people who people watch and who go through life with a scalpel trying to understand why people behave like they do. I love the feeling when you are so ‘in’ a moment, it’s the best form of mindfulness or meditation because you are so present, listening and reacting. Creative flow. It’s a drug, acting,” she said.

Known for her work in the Netflix series Rostered On, as well as films such as Playgroundand In the Wake, Evison Williams has had a formidable career, with many highlights decorating her resume. One such project was the award-winning film Lazy Boy, which saw critical acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals, despite being made for the infinitesimal budget of $600 AUD.

Lazy Boy was awarded a 2016 Flickerfest finalist and nominated for the Flickerfest National Tour as well as a SciFi Film festival nomination. It received a Heathcote Film Festival nomination and was an Official Selection and a Top 100 Short Film at the 2016 St Kilda Film Festival. In 2017, it toured theatrically around the United Kingdom with Discover Film.

“It’s fantastic. I am really proud of the film. It’s an amazing story. It’s a great sci-fi-esque, time travel concept with a sinister undertone and a lot of heart,” said Evison Williams.

Lazy Boy tells the story of Ray and when he brings home a new purchase, his pregnant girlfriend is not impressed. Banished to the garage he soon realizes the old La-Z-Boy recliner he bought is in fact a one-minute time machine. Audiences are asked the question: will Ray learn from his mistakes, or is he destined to repeat them forever?

In the film, Evison Williams plays Sarah, Ray’s girlfriend. Although the synopsis may present her as simply hormonal, she is far from it, and she and their unborn baby end up being the catalyst of the story, ultimately affecting Ray’s decision on whether to use the time machine for good. Sarah is trying to hold it all together, and Evison Williams perfectly portrays her struggle. She is pregnant and has a partner who is not rising to the occasion, she hormonal, working and doing all the preparation for the new baby. She is pulled very thin.

To prepare for the role, Evison Williams spent a lot of time working with her scene partner, Steve Carroll, who played Ray. They wanted to ensure they had good chemistry while in front of the camera, as the success of the film hindered on their authentic performance as a couple. For Evison Williams, a large part of her research also went in to studying how a pregnant woman may be feeling when stressed. It would have been easy for her to come off as a “nag” or “buzz kill” and Evison Williams was very conscious of showing her heart and struggle.

“I didn’t want to continue that persistent sexist stereotype. Choices were made to motivate why she is saying and behaving as she is. Not that Dave wrote her like this, but it would have been the easier choice as an actor,” she described.

The Writer and Director of the film, Dave Redman, is a prolific storyteller with a passion for film and television. He has worked in the Australian film and television industry for over 20 years and has established a solid career as a film and television editor, cutting five feature films, 160+ episodes of TV, hundreds of TVCs and more than 45 short films that have played at festivals worldwide. When Evison Williams saw the opportunity to work with him, she was eager to take part. When she read the script, she was hooked.

The story allowed for Evison Williams to dive deep into a character that could have been very two-dimensional if she allowed. In exploring Sarah, her performance was real, and that is what Evison Williams aims for in every performance, a truthful style.

“Even when doing comedy or character I am always aiming for truth. I would prefer watching a scene about ‘what’s for dinner’ more than two people not listening and performing an idea,” she concluded.

 

Written by Sara Fowler

Poland’s Maja Lakomy shines light on mental illness in acclaimed film

Growing up in Kielce, Poland, Maja Lakomy was always fascinated by performing. Whether it be in a film or on a stage, she found herself constantly impressed by what actors were capable of and the effects they could have on the audience. She began to realize even at a young age that she wanted to become like one of those incredible actors and do the same thing to the audience. She was encouraged to choose a career that could make her happy, and acting was therefore the only option for her.

Throughout her career, Lakomy has worked on a number of successful projects. Recently, her award-winning film Diminuendo saw critical acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals and is expected to continue to do so throughout the year. She also shot a music video for Andrea Bocelli, the Grammy nominated and Golden Globe winning Italian musician who has collaborated with greats such as Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, and more. Lakomy is doing what she wished for as a child and loves every day she steps onto a set.

“I imagine that it hardly ever happens that people are so lucky to do what they love as a career. Nevertheless, I went that direction and knew I would never give up and would always keep working towards my dream. Now, I am one of those lucky people who have their passion as their job,” said Lakomy.

One of Lakomy’s first tastes of international success came from her work on the film Star House. The film was uploaded on Vimeo, the online platform for video-sharing in December 2017 and is available worldwide. The project also received attention from the prestigious Berlin Fashion Film Festival. The representatives of the festival wrote a comment, that’s visible under the video on Vimeo, leaving a compliment about the project and offering participation in the festival under the category “Fashion, Lifestyle and Beauty Film – Emerging Talent”.

Star House follows two girls who break into an intriguing home they come across in the woods and decide to stay until the owner returns. The story is very unpredictable with a fun twist, something for the audience to look forward to. The drama also showcases two distinctive characters, with a disturbing and surprising realness to their psychological construction.

“I think that a lot of women could identify with the story and the message of it. Nearly everybody has some part of themselves that they don’t accept and makes them feel weak. Everybody has somebody like my character in their lives, who let their insecurities drive their mental health to the line where sane meets insane. This story shows how obsessive one can become while pursuing perfection. It’s also a sort of commentary on body dysmorphia and the dynamic among females who have the tendency to constantly compare themselves to one another. I think all of these aspects are very important,” said Lakomy.

Lakomy’s character, Cleo, is very interesting and complex. She lacks everything that the other charactor, Rose, possesses: confidence, beauty, spontaneity. Rose also has a certain type of control over Cleo. Cleo was mesmerized and infatuated by Rose. The irony, however, in this story was that the girls look very alike, but Cleo is only able to notice her own flaws and insecurities that she believes Rose does not possess, which is why she was so compelling and perfect in Cleo’s eyes. The idea of perfection that Rose represented was only in Cleo’s head, and that is what makes this story touching.

Lakomy excelled when presenting Cleo’s feelings and what she goes through, knowing the importance of her character and story for females in the audience who may feel similarly.

“I hope women that watched it or any other film with a similar message realize that being a perfectionist is not healthy and we need to accept ourselves as we are and not let other people criticize us, bring us down and objectify us,” she said.

After being hand selected for the role by the Director, Allison Bunce, Lakomy was eager to begin playing such an insecure and controlled character, offering a challenge she had not encountered yet in her esteemed career. She had previously played a similar character in the play Angels in America, and therefore applied the same principles when it came to portraying Cleo; this time, however, in front of a camera.

“Acting with the other lead actress opposite of me was very interesting when you’re aware her character doesn’t really exist. At the same time, she was one hundred percent real to my character, so I had to focus on remembering that,” Lakomy described.

Star House was also shot on 16mm film and a Super8 camera, so it had a very unique visual style to it. Lakomy had previously never worked with this type of camera equipment and she now says she is a fan of the style. The best part of the experience for the actress, however, was those she worked with.

“Working on this project was truly a magical experience. I loved working with such a professional crew. Every single person on the set has been committed, successful, and excels at what they do. It was a great pleasure to be around them and learn from them. I think we made up a great team,” Lakomy concluded.

Check out Star House on Vimeo to see Lakomy’s outstanding performance.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Alina Smolyar to star in upcoming horror ‘Skeleton in the Closet’

photo Valery Sobol
Alina Smolyar, photo by Valery Sobol

Growing up in Odessa, Ukraine, Alina Smolyar always believed she would be a painter. She had been drawing since the age of three and gained recognition for her work around the world. However, at twelve-years-old, she quit it. Even at that age, she knew she did not have the inspiration or the drive to become a visual artist; this was her parents dream, not her own. She knew she had another passion to explore, one that excited her beyond anything else, and that was acting.

As a childhood pastime, Smolyar would put together small plays or sketches with other kids in her neighborhood. They invited audiences of their parents and neighbors, and every time Smolyar would perform she felt an energy that was unparalleled with anything else she had ever experienced.

“When it came to that point when I had to choose my future job I totally knew what I wanted to do. The only problem was that I had to convince my parents that I could do it. They didn’t want me to become a professional actress. They are not related with show business at all,” said Smolyar.

Now, Smolyar has indeed shown not only her parents, but also the entire world just what she is capable of as an actress. She starred in her own filmMolehill, taking home several awards for Best Actress for her performance from many prestigious film festivals around the world. She has been in several national commercials and acclaimed television series. She has worked alongside Hollywood’s elite, like Denise Richards, Val Kilmer, and William Baldwin in the upcoming comedy 1stBorn.

Smolyar’s latest film is the action/thriller feature Skeleton in the Closet. The film tells the story of Jason, 20-something slacker and computer savant who, on a dare, hacks the White House computer servers. He covers his digital tracks, but a hacker buddy boasts of Jason’s exploits online. The FBI tracks down the friend – then breaks down Jason’s door. The events that follow are a race against time, a battle of wits, and a fight to the death for two young computer prodigies pitted against a group of armed, determined criminals who will stop at nothing. In the end, the difference between life and death rests solely upon superior intelligence – and willingness to trust, but as things spiral further and further out of control, the question for us is: will they make it?

Valery Sobol
Alina Smolyar, photo by Valery Sobol

“It’s so fresh right now audiences will love it. It’s going to be a Ukrainian-American project, a thriller with some action elements. I won’t give you details about the story but it’s very hot and new for this particular time. It’s a thriller, you will see a lot of action and of course everything is based on love. You’ll see some drama, elements of comedy. David Ransil is a script writer, you will enjoy it for sure. He definitely knows what he does,” said Smolyar.

In the film, Smolyar plays a pivotal role. At first, her character appears to be very nice and helpful, but she is also very deceiving. She aims to benefit herself in every move she makes. She also is pivotal to the climax of the story, helping audiences better understand every characters’ motives.

Smolyar is very excited to be working on such a unique film. Not only does she like the story, but she loves the team she will be working alongside. Shooting will begin in September, with an expected release date of next year.

“It’s very important to have a great team. I like the script, the idea, my character and the place where we are going to shoot it. It’s a huge mansion with an amazing lake. I am really looking forward to it,” she said.

Smolyar has quite the year ahead with Skeleton in the Closet and1stBorn. With so much going on, she still remembers being a young girl in Ukraine with a dream that her family didn’t support, and now, for others that may be facing the same challenge, she offers the following advice.

“Think wisely before choosing this career. You always have to be prepared to hear no and just move on. The best phrase for that if you can see yourself doing something else besides acting, do it, don’t start an acting career. But if you decide to take this road you have to understand that it takes so much commitment, inside power, taste and knowing what you’re selling. You are a product, know your brand,” she advised.

To stay up-to-date with Skeleton in the Closet, check out the film’s website here.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Canada’s Aida King is worried wife and stepmother in action flick ‘Hemorrhage’

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Aida King

Being Canadian of Filipino descent and growing up in a multicultural downtown Toronto urban neighborhood, Aida King uses her prominence as an actress to be a representative of a world population sector that is still well under-represented in the entertainment industry. Her unique appearance allows her to portray a variety of cultures and she aims to provide a deeper understanding of different ethnicities. Through the creative arts, she can provide a fresh perspective and not only entertain her audiences, but also educate. With every project she takes on, no matter the genre, she makes sure to understand her character and their background, as well as what drives them. It is such a devotion that makes her such an outstanding actress, and a leader in the industry in Canada.

Known for her versatility, King has worked on a variety of genres as an actress, showing that she is capable of anything. Whether bringing on the laughs in Desert Drive or keeping you on the edge of your seats in the thriller War of Mind, this actress knows exactly how to captivate an audience.

King not only impresses audiences, but also those she works with, as seasoned Producer and Director Josh Mitchell was so moved by the actress’ work in his film The Convicted, which went on to several prestigious international film festivals, that he immediately offered her more roles on his future projects. The two also worked together on the 2015 film Hemorrhage.

Hemorrhage tells the story of a brawling hockey player who suffers from his fourth concussion and is forced to retire. He connects with a shady old high school friend and starts flipping houses, but quickly finds himself face-to-face with a dangerous Mexican gang. When they rough up his wife and kidnap his son – the gloves come off and he takes matters into his own hands.

“Everyone thinks that a pro athlete leads only a glamourous life. That being said, not all are successful as the main stars that are showcased. So many of them face their own unique set of challenges, especially if their career gets cut shorter than expected. The movie is an age-old warning to be careful of whom you associate yourself with,” said King.

Playing the lead role of Ana Chaffe, King was ready to take on a little bit of an action hero. She was a wife and step-mother that was stereotypically cautious and suspicious of her husband’s questionable associates. She was very protective of him and had been worrying about his future, ever since he was forced to retire from his professional hockey career. Her instincts turn out to be correct as she later suffers from her stepchild being kidnapped and her husband under the control of a criminal. Ana’s worry provided pivotal foreshadowing in the film, building suspense and emotionally investing the audience.

“It was a rush to play such a strong character, fighting for her husband and step-child,” said King.

While shooting Hemorrhage, King was required to handle a gun for the first time in her career. Even though it was just a prop, she found the experience quite unnerving. She researched how to shoot a gun, and despite never actually doing so, perfectly executed the scene. This was made easier because of how comfortable she was on set, extremely familiar with the entire cast and crew. However, there was a lot of testosterone on the sports fuelled action film, she joked.

“It’s such an overall different frame of mind when you’re involved in an action focused film. I enjoyed this new approach and the comradery that goes along with it. It was a great time to channel in all great angry female roles that I have seen on TV over the years,” she said.

The trailer for Hemorrhageis featured on Daily Motion‘s website, and the full film is available via Vimeo on Demand since September 2015.

“I am very proud of its outcome. The reviews have been kind and we are grateful for it,” King concluded.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

British Actress Milanka Brooks brings on the laughs in TV Movie ‘Do Not Disturb’

As a child, Milanka Brooks found herself inspired by her late father, Harry Brooks. He was an actor, and the two would discuss theatre, film and television, and frequented the theatre together. Growing up, Milanka began seeing the theatre world as a magical space where real-time stopped and the world as she knew it only existed within the parameters of the stage. She knew from that young age that she would find herself on the same path as her father and that her future lied in acting.

Now, Brooks is an acclaimed actress, showing audiences in her home country of England and around the world just what a talent she is. Having recently starred in an episode of the popular Netflix original series Black Mirror, and the hit British television show Benidorm, the actress’ versatility is evident, and with her upcoming film Patrick being released later this year, she has no plans on slowing down.

One of Brooks’ most prolific roles was that of Svetlana in the movie Do Not Disturb. The film tells the story of Anna and John, who book into the Stratford-on-Avon hotel where they spent their honeymoon ten years earlier – separately, following Anna’s extra-marital fling, but they had paid for the room anyway. They decide to give their marriage another go but then Anna sees young Luke, the hungover best man from the previous night’s stag party, who mistakes her for a prostitute and whom she rings receptionist Sheila to get rid of. In the meantime, two real escorts arrive and assume that porter Neil is their client, to Sheila’s annoyance. Confusion arises when a blindfold Anna has sex with Luke by mistake and Neil ejects her husband John, believing him to be Luke. By the time Anna’s mother turns up there is much explaining to do.

Do Not Disturb Sian Gibson, Kierston Wareing, photo UKTV
Sian Gibson, Milanka Brooks and Kierston Wareing in Do Not Disturb, photo courtesy of UKTV

Do Not Disturb is a really fantastic romp made for audiences with a penchant for farce. Even when reading the script, I could feel the pace and energy of the film. It doesn’t shy away from being a purely energetic, entertaining spoof, full of thrills and turns that leave the audience feeling fully satiated by the end,” said Brooks.

The character of Svetlana is a very intimidating, confident and forceful escort from Russia. As one of the two escorts, Brooks’ character is hired to entertain the groom-to-be on his stag-do in a hotel in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a town that is definitely not known for this kind of behaviour. They storm in to the hotel and demand to be taken to his room. They end up entering the wrong hotel room and seducing the wrong man, which is the catalyst for the train of events to follow.

Svetlana came in to destroy what was already a fairly shattered environment, in Brooks’ opinion. The humor in the story came from a degenerate group of people, all finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Svetlana highlighted this by her stature, attitude and insolence of the whole situation.

“The men are quite paradoxically the scared characters in the story, and the women end up incredibly domineering and commanding. Sometimes I feel like this came a little too naturally,” Brooks joked.

Milanka press Do Not Disturb Catherine Tate, Miles Jupp, Steve Edge, Kierston Wareing, Dylan Edwards, Penny Ryder, Photo UKTV
Catherine Tate, Miles Jupp, Steve Edge, Kierston Wareing, Dylan Edwards, Penny Ryder, and Milanka Brooks in Do Not Disturb, photo courtesy of UKTV

Do Not Disturb also stars British icon Catherine Tate, which was the initial reason Brooks wanted to be a part of it. Working alongside such talented comedians inspired Brooks, saying the TV movie really felt like an ensemble piece from the beginning. Rehearsals consisted of a lot of improvisation and devising around the script. Writer and Executive Producer Aschlin Ditta was always open to the cast’s ideas and any amendments that complimented the story and supported the characters. This allowed the cast to really become comfortable with each other and their characters, playing off everyone’s comedic timing and creating laugh-out-loud funny scenes.

“Milanka is a very fine actress and comedienne and someone I would work with again without a second thought. As a performer she is brilliant and skilful, with a rare eye for both comedy and drama, and as a professional she is faultless. Milanka is incredibly thorough both in her preparation and execution, an exceptional talent, and while she undoubtedly delivers in performance she is also a team player who is a joy to be around. Her energy, talent, insight and humour make her an actress to grace any production,” said Aishlin Ditta, Writer and Executive Producer of Do Not Disturb.

A lot of Brooks’ performance was based on her on-screen relationship with fellow actress Kierston Wareing. The chemistry between the two, playing escorts, had to be comedic and believable to bring audiences in, so the two spent a lot of time getting to know each other outside of rehearsals and filming. The result was perfect timing between the two characters.

Working alongside such a stellar cast and crew, including Wareing, Ditta, and Tate is why Brooks enjoyed creating Do Not Disturb as much as she did. With such comedic energy all around, it was easy to see the humor of the story on set.

We ended up shooting in this beautiful country house a little outside of London. If any neighbors were watching they would have likely called the police given the absurd nature of a lot of people running in and out of rooms half dressed, but fortunately for us we were in the middle of nowhere,” she concluded.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Top photo by Faye Thomas