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 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.
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.
When most people hear the words “reality television,” they think of things like drama and excitement. They picture all of the supposedly unscripted, real-life situations between seemingly average, every day people that generate large followings and unprecedented ratings. What doesn’t typically come to mind, however, are the masterminds behind these shows. In particular, they don’t think of the editors who arrange the raw footage that they love so much into an ensemble that they tune into again and again, without fail. Without talented editors like Peter Hein, reality television wouldn’t be the adored genre that it is today and audiences wouldn’t likely love the shows they love as much as do.
The Danish native’s talents as an editor are profound. He has a keen eye for spotting quality storylines, but what’s more is that he has a unique affinity for identifying the emotional elements of those storylines that will keep viewers tuning in on a daily or weekly basis. In fact, extracting emotional elements from the footage he works on is one of the parts of editing that Hein loves most. He thrives on the opportunity that his job gives him to evoke an emotional response in his audience, and he considers working in his profession to be a dream come true.
“My favorite thing about editing is getting the emotions of the scene right – making those little last-minute tweaks at the end of an editing session to really hit your story home. Whether it’s to make people laugh or cry, it doesn’t matter. Simply getting those last frames right so that it affects the people watching in all the right ways. I also love seeing a story come together when you’ve crafted it from hours upon hours of footage. I enjoy finding all of those fragmented pieces that fit together to create a compelling story and then making sure it’s characters pop,” said Hein.
Hein has crafted more than just film footage, he has created a successful career out of his talents. He can be credited as one of the greatest contributors to wildly successful shows like Britain’s Got Talent and First Dates. Several of his works, in fact, have earned BAFTA awards; however, one of his greatest accomplishments was when he was nominated for best editing for an RTS award in the documentary category for Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew.
In 2014, Hein was approached about the possibility of working on the show Gogglebox. The initial concept of the show left Hein skeptical; however, upon watching the first series, he realized the potential and humorous nature of the show. He knew that his skill set could enhance the show’s reach and he was eager to lend his authentic editing style where it was needed most.
Gogglebox is a British reality television show that airs on the popular Channel 4. It features a number of families and groups of friends from around the United Kingdom and documents their reactions to British television shows within the comfort of their own homes. Hein found the premise unique and thought that it would pose a new challenge in his career. The result of his contributions to the show were profound.
What Hein enjoyed most about working on Gogglebox was that it was unlike any other project he had ever worked on. The timelines were tight and the stakes were high. The footage for the show spans 24-hour days and Hein was trusted to arrange the footage in such a way that viewers couldn’t resist coming back for more. His ability to understand his audience and capture the elements of scenes that his viewers will enjoy highlight his prowess in the industry.
“The show runs like clock work and you only have a few days to put together a story about 5 or so families watching a show. You really have to break down the footage in order to bring out all of the details in the edit. All of the little reactions make the story work. You and your producer have to work really closely to sift through each and every frame. As you cut it down, you often go back and bring back sections that you had previously eliminated in order to slowly build the humor in the footage. It was hardcore to work on and it was an intense edit, but it was all worth it,” stated Hein.
Having collaborated so closely with his producer, Chloe Sarfaty, Hein was able to showcase his expertise in the best way he knows how. After witnessing his talents first hand, it is no surprise that Sarfaty was beyond impressed by is skill set.
“Peter was my editor on the BAFTA award-winning series Gogglebox. It was a fast turnaround edit but Peter works very well under pressure and being the brilliant editor that he is, he knew exactly ho to build each story. He has a wide range of skills that make him excellent at what he does. He is strong editorially and he works very quickly, on top of being incredibly creative and a pleasure to work with. We worked very closely together on Gogglebox and that is a very high pressure edit to be in but even under all of the pressure, we had a ton of fun and created some excellent episodes. Peter is an asset to every team and anyone would be lucky to have him on their production,” noted Sarfaty.
Because editing is Hein’s passion, he is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that he carries everything he works on along a path of success. He is grateful to do what he loves for a living and any recognition he receives is simply a bonus. When the series won a BAFTA award, Hein remained humbled by the hard work and dedication he put into it and was pleased that he and his co-workers had accomplished more than they had set out to achieve.
As for Hein’s future, he aims to continue to decorate his career with more award-worthy content and develop himself to even greater lengths than he has already achieved. He hopes to embark on new challenges and continue to bring about his audience’s emotions in ways that they don’t often expect before absorbing his projects. He is an avid editor and he will continue to share his greatness with the world as long as we will allow him to.
As a child growing up in London, England, James Ralph wanted to be a chef. He enjoyed the creativity that came along with cooking, being able to create something amazing from simple ingredients. During this time, his hobby was making videos with his friends. As he grew, he started to realize the parallels between cooking and filmmaking. Both involve a high level of creativity and natural instinct, and both are their own forms of art. It was this realization that made making movies turn from a hobby to a true passion, and changed Ralph’s life.
Now, Ralph is one of Britain’s most celebrated editors. His work throughout his country’s television industry is iconic, putting his touch on the nation’s most popular shows. Working on series like Love Island, Britain’s Got Talent, 24 Hours in A&E, The Voice UK, and many more, Ralph has made quite the name for himself. This all truly began with his work on the immensely popular singing competition The X Factor.
“It’s amazing to think that over the years working on this show, I have had a hand in editing the auditions of artists who have gone on to enjoy massive worldwide fame. Early One Direction solo auditions, JLS, Little Mix as soloists and when first together amongst others. It gives me a real sense of achievement to think that, although they’ll have absolutely no idea who I am or what I do, I have in my small way played a part in their journey to superstardom,” said Ralph.
Having worked on the show since 2008 when it began its fifth season, Ralph is acutely aware of how to make the show a success. He brings a consistency and deep understanding of the show and how it works best. He has been involved in all stages of the editing process, from the initial auditions, to arenas, boot camp, judges houses, and the live shows. His extensive experience on the show and his vast understanding of its many elements has meant that he has a senior role, working as a lead or finishing editor. He knows the look and feel better than almost anyone, and without him, the show may not be what it is today.
“What I love about working on a show like this is that it’s a real test of all my skills as an editor, but also because it is transmitting weekly, you are working on something, that is getting real time feedback from the press, the public and social media. A really successful audition can become a real water cooler moment where it seems like everyone is talking about it, and that is a great feeling,” said Ralph.
From the beginning, Ralph is heavily involved in editing the audition stage of the show. He spends weeks going through all the footage from each audition, figuring out exactly what should be highlighted. Once episodes have been cast, he crafts every audition, ensuring to tell each story fully, maximizing the potential of each act. He also has to connect each act, and building the bridges and connections between them takes a great deal of time and skill, as viewers need the entire show to be seamless. According to Ralph, the choice of music and the pacing of the stories is so important in making the most of every scene. Simon Cowell is also highly involved in the process, and Ralph sends edits to him regularly for feedback. Ralph’s editing skills are vastly appreciated by all who work on the show.
“James is a pleasure to work with. Over the years numerous Series Producers and Edit Producers have worked alongside him and the feedback is always extremely positive. James is someone we try to book as an editor for the show every year, he is very much a part of the core edit team. We also work very long hours and James will never lose his sense of humor and always has a smile on his face,” said Ashley Whitehouse, Series Producer. “James is a very creative editor who can work extremely well under pressure, often cutting to very tight deadlines. He is a great editor when it comes to telling emotional stories, but equally skilled when it comes to cutting comedy. James is also very accommodating when working with junior members of the editorial team and will often help nurture less experienced producers. James is often used as a ‘finisher’ on our shows too, great attention to detail.”
Ralph takes a great sense of satisfaction from the fact that his work is not only appreciated by colleagues, but also fans. The show is consistently popular with the public and press, with extremely high ratings and award wins. When a fan retweets an audition, or likes a video on YouTube, they may not realize they are congratulating Ralph for a job well done.
“I love working on this show for a number of reasons. It’s a heady mix of intense pressure to deliver against deadlines for transmission, super creativity, and the chance to work on discovering acts that have gone on to become some of the biggest global acts in recent years. I have been involved in all areas of the edit from the opening sequences, pre-titles, guest artist videos for people like Katie Perry, Robbie Williams to actual parts of the show, live show videos as well as lead and finishing editor roles. There isn’t really a part of the editing of the show that I don’t know about,” he concluded.
Actor Souleiman Bock’s intriguing and versatile look coupled with his phenomenal acting skill have been integral to the actor becoming a hit both at home in London and abroad. Considering that Bock landed one of his first roles on the hit British TV series “MI-5,” aka “Spooks,” it was an easy bet that the uber talented actor would soon be hot on everyone’s radar, and he has become just that! In “MI-5” Bock took on a major role as an ill intentioned terrorist who plans to bomb London’s House of Parliament and takes a ship hostage along the way. For anyone who has had the chance to watch his performance and how he embodied a man of evil deception down to the most minute detail, it’s easy to see why he has continued to land roles of a similar nature.
In the dramatic crime series “River,” which aired last year, Bock took on the critical role of Khaalid Mohamoud, a hard-working immigrant who harbours a game-changing secret to protect a friend. In “River,” which earned the Golden Nymph Award from the Festival de Television de Monte Carlo, as well as a BAFTA TV Award nomination, Bock acted alongside one of his icons, multi-award winning actor Stellan Skarsgard (“Good Will Hunting” “The Avengers”), a memorable experience to say the least.
Bock recently wrapped filming on an episode of the upcoming series “Riviera,” which stars Golden Globe nominee Julia Stiles from (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “10 Things I Hate About You”). In the series Bock takes on the critical role of a doctor acting alongside multi-award winning actor Idal Naor from hit series “The Honourable Woman” and “The House of Saddam.”
With undeniable magnetism on screen, those with even the toughest of standard will conclude that Souleiman Bock is a gifted performer. Aside from bringing some of the most challenging characters to life, Bock is fluent in English, French and Somali, something that gives him an edge over others in the industry.
To find out more about Souleiman Bock and some of his exciting upcoming projects make sure to check out our interview below!
Hey Souleiman thanks for joining us! Can you start by telling us where you are from?
SB: I was born in Djibouti, East Africa. I traveled a lot as a kid because my dad was in the French army, we then settled in Paris when I was about 10. But I have been living in London for almost 10 years now.
When and how did you get into acting?
SB: Acting was always on my mind growing up since I loved films. Although i wanted to play soccer professionally as a kid and almost ended up doing it, when I turned 20 I went to my first acting class in Paris and after that I was hooked and never looked back.
When did you land your first onscreen role? What was the project and how did it feel being a part of it?
SB: MY first professional acting job was on the British Drama “Spooks” or “MI-5” as it’s known outside the UK, I was really happy getting the role since I had been a fan of the show before and I considered it to be the best spy/action drama anywhere. It was quite an experience being on a show of that quality with a really great cast and crew.
You’re currently shooting the upcoming series “Riviera,” can you tell us about the show’s story?
SB: The show is about a rich family who inherits an empire from their father when he dies in the South of France. But all hell break loose as they discover all the dark secrets he left behind. The lead actress is American actress Julia Stiles.
What character do you play and why are they important to the story?
SB: I’m not allowed to go into to much details right now since the show is in production, but I can say that I am playing a Doctor who is key to the storyline, and there is a nice plot twist regarding him.
Did you face any challenges in bringing this character to life?
SB: Being quite young, playing a Doctor with a lot of experience and weight to him has been a very interesting challenge.
What was it like working with director Damon Thomas and the rest of the cast on the series?
SB: I think this has been my best shooting experience so far since we were shooting in the South of France in some amazing locations. The director was really experienced and efficient, and the cast and crew are really friendly, which always makes things better.
How about the crime series “River,” what was that about?
SB: “River” I would say is my best job to date, and definitely my most demanding job as an actor. It was a great experience bringing Khaalid to life because of the complexities of the story and the character. Also acting opposite Stellan Skarsgard which I considered before I met him on set to be one of the best actors out there, was a really amazing experience. I learned a lot watching him work and grew a lot from it as a result.
How did it feel when you found out you had landed a recurring role on the series?
SB: I was really happy, again because I knew I was going to work with Stellan Skarsgard and the story I felt was really different and special. The show has has some amazing reviews on its quality and originality.
Can you tell us about your character Khaalid Mohamoud? What kind of guy is he and what happens to him in the story?
SB: He’s an immigrant in the UK who has been working hard to support his family and struggles to find his place in society, he’s central to the story because he’s hiding information in an effort to try and protect someone, a move that could change the course of the story.
You are also in the series “Call the Midwife,” can you tell us about your character?
SB: I actually just finished shooting and I am in season 6. I play a British Merchant Navy Seaman in the show. It is set in the 60’s and my character is trying to have his wife go back to Africa to give birth and that’s when all the drama begins.
What is the series about?
SB: The story is about midwives in the 60’s in post war London, and the job they did. It is a very popular show worldwide with great reviews.
In the episode you are in, how did your character fit into the story?
SB: I will be in season 6 episode 6, which comes out in 2017. The entire episode is dedicated to my storyline and that of my wife in the show. It’s a really heavy and sad story that will be very interesting to watch.
How did the character challenge you as an actor?
SB: Having to play a man living in the 60’s was the challenge, since people of that time had a completely different view on things but we had an amazing script to help, and I asked for details from my parents to find out what it was like for them during the 60’s as well.
Can you tell us about the project “Spooks”?
SB: “Spooks” was my first job on TV. It’s a Spy/Drama and was one of the influences for the “Bourne” movies, it is a very gritty and realistic show about the Spy world. “Spooks” is slang for spy in government official circles. I was playing one of the terrorists who planned to bomb the house of parliament in London and took a boat hostage. As this was my first experience with a show of that scale, I had to overcome a bit of nerves at first but was quickly put at ease by the cast and crew. The director of this show was Paul Whittington and I was playing opposite Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”) who was the main Spy I took hostage in the episode and Iain Glenn, who went on to be one the main character of “Game of Thrones.”
You’ve had quite a bit of success as an actor on television so far– do you have plans to focus more on film work anytime soon?
SB: Definitely in the future that is my goal!
What is it about working in television that you enjoy?
SB: Television has become such a great quality media that you would really miss on a lot of opportunities if you didn’t look at it. Plus it is a great way for an actor to show their skills as you could have more time to develop a character, and really these days TV has amazing quality shows!
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
SB: Around the same time I was shooting “Spooks,” I had my first role on the big budget film “Gulliver’s Travels.” I was playing a soldier and it was a great experience. It was a massive shoot and Jack Black was really great to work with and very friendly. I also did a film with French director Mass Youssoupha called “Conscience” that we are looking to show at film festivals next year and I am really excited about that but I can’t really talk much about the story as I’m forbidden to do so. Also I have the typical actor’s story when I started I did a couple of background jobs in film to pay for for acting school, and that was also a great learning experience.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
SB: At the moment, for example, the movie “Conscience” that we hope will be selected for festivals, the main reason I did this film was the director Mass Youssoupha. He saw my work on “River” and wrote that story for me specifically so I was really keen to work with him. In the beginning of my career working on films was not my priority, of course if you get an amazing project you will do it, but I was more focused on TV and now that my name is out there I go for castings for some great movie projects with great directors, and that’s what you want as an actor really– to create a window for you to have access to quality projects.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
SB: Now that my name is getting known it’s really about choosing that quality project that will make a difference in my career, that’s why I am very picky of what I want to be associated with. That’s why if you look at my work on TV so far it’s only be quality work. I am choosing quality over quantity!
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
SB: At the beginning of your career you get typecast always, but you have to get your opportunities and show what you can do, and now really I get all kinds of characters. “River” has been a turning point for me really. But I would definitely say that I usually get the intense sometimes menacing type.
Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far and why?
SB: My favorite job so far has been the show “River,” this was where I learned the most and also the complexities of the character were so fun to play! Acting with Stellan Skarsgard has been the highlight of my career so far because I really admire him as an actor.
What has been your most challenging role?
SB: My character Khaalid on “River” was the most challenging, the range of emotions was great, and my character was always on the edge. This is really challenging as an actor.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
SB: Definitely drama, I think this is where I shine the most really. And it is also my favorite genre to watch.
What separates you from other actors? What do you feel your strongest qualities are?
SB: I have always been told that I have this sort of presence which is menacing and charming at the same time so maybe that, although it’s quite hard to judge yourself but I suppose I would agree with that.
Have you been in any commercials or music videos?
SB: Yes I did a Spring Water commercial for “Voslauer” with supermodel Agyness Dein, you can actually still see it on youtube it’s called “Voslauer Part II”.
What projects do you have coming up?
SB: Coming out next year are my roles in “Call the Midwife” and “Riviera.”
What are your plans for the future?
SB: I would love to be as versatile as possible as an actor and maybe learn a new language to act in, that would be really great since I have a passion for language.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
SB: Hopefully grow as an actor and do lots of quality work.
Why are you passionate about working as an actor?
SB: It’s always such a joy for me really to disappear into a character, there is nothing like it!!
If you weren’t an actor what other profession do you think you might have chosen?
SB: My dream as a kid was to be a professional soccer player, so definitely that! I am still very much passionate about soccer and sports in general, i also love the NBA.
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