An interview with the actor, writer and director Morgan Bailey

The actor, writer and director Morgan bailey, known for his appearances in Coronation Street, In the Dark and Rabbit Punch talks to Mandy News about how he became an actor and life as an up and coming writer.

19th December 2018
/ By James Collins

Morgan Bailey in Rabbit Punch IMDB

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you got involved in the TV and film industry?
My name is Morgan Bailey, I am 23 years old. I got into the film and TV industry when I was about 17, during my time in college. Prior to that I experienced stage during primary school and secondary school, did performances in relation to progressing forward and interacting with theatres and the Contact theatre, to be specific, in Manchester. 

TV and film wise, I started taking lessons and it was pretty centred around presenting yourself in the audition room, in front of the camera, finding your mark on location - all those types of things. 

I persevered with that and from then on, I got myself an agent. It took some time to get my first credit but it was for a BBC One drama called In the Dark and my second one was for Coronation Street. This year, I’m hoping to get some more under my belt.

Whereabouts did you study?
It wasn’t a traditional drama school in a sense. It was acting classes, D&A, acting resource in Manchester. There wasn’t a specific location, I moved around quite a bit.

How did you go about getting an agent?
The acting classes are the send-in. The other side of the business is agency. When I was building that rapport with the practitioner where I went for classes, they offered me a place on their books. I just got it from there.

How do you prepare for an audition?
It’s difficult because sometimes you get it the night before and other times you have a week to prepare. Honestly it depends on what they’re actually looking for. I went for an audition for Black Mirror and they just wanted me to eat some cereal! [Laughs] What kind of preparation can you do for that acting-wise? When you’re just staring into a camera and eating a bowl of cereal. Preparation-wise, I got myself some cereal, I got myself some milk and went to my agent. Props to him because he broke it down and made me understand that it wasn’t really about the character itself. It was about me as an individual, as a person - forget the actor - and what I can bring to the production. 

When I had to introduce myself, I added a lot of my personality in that introduction and they liked it. All I was doing was eating cereal out of a bowl and I made that very clear. It was funny that I made that clear because it was just daft. What I’ve learned really and truly about auditions and preparation is: yes, do the groundwork; yes, understand the character but more often: bring yourself into the room and bring yourself in front of the camera because no-one else can do that! No-one on the planet can do that. 

That’s where it becomes down to you in all honesty - if they like you, if they think you have the right look then and you can deliver what they want you to deliver then you’re in there!

You were recently involved with the Sky TV table read for Out of Bounds. Could you tell us a little bit more about that project and how you became involved?

It kind of snuck up on me. I know the writer Sharma. She used to go to the same classes that I went to. I’ve known her for years, since I was younger so me and her already have a rapport. I was offered the role to read. The character’s name is Morgan and that’s because Sharma liked my name when she met me - which is cool. She wanted me to play the role from the off-set so that’s what she said to Fraser and that’s what she pushed for. She wasn’t having it any other way. 

They got in touch with my agent and at first I was quite hesitant but the more I found out about the project, I thought it’s worthwhile to give this a go and really challenge myself. That’s how I got into it and it went really well.

What can you tell us about the process of doing it? What was the set-up and how many people were there?
I want to say 10. We were all in the room - it was just the characters. It was just that raw almost theatrical performance without the movement, just dialogue. We all sat in the room and we just ran through it and made notes as we went along. It was a really relaxed environment - very welcoming, very inclusive. Everyone delivered some source. It was a good experience. We read through once and then nit-picked specific scenes which allowed us to really get under the skin of the characters that we were going to play because we were performing it the next day. 

It was a really intense process. It was blocked out throughout the day. At first it was the parents and then they had the option to leave or carry on with the session and watch. Then the other characters, then the main two characters - the two boys that are in love with each other. It built up to the climax and was very structured and very detailed. We performed the next day to an audience. We were sat down in a line and we just performed to the audience in front of us. Some people had to switch roles so there were opportunities for people to switch up. For example, one character didn’t have the hoody on and then for another character - which was a more menacing character - she put the hoody up to signify that change in character. There wasn’t a lot of movement but there was a lot of characterisation. It wasn’t as if we were sat down and just spoke, there was a lot of acting and performing.

Do you think the pressure of working on something from a table read from one day before teaches a different skill-set to working on something else where you have a script pre-prepared?
In some instances, yes. I feel like there wasn’t that much pressure in the sense that we have to deliver the wickedest performance ever. There were instances in the script where my character was either close to tears or completely bawling. I tried, I attempted to but to hit the nail like that without that much preparation. It did put things into perspective in a sense that I feel like I should be able to do that with whatever amount of preparation. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 10 weeks, I should be able to do that. For me, it just set some goals that I have to obtain within my skillset. But overall, there wasn’t that much pressure to deliver that kind of performance.

What’s coming up next for you?
At the moment, I’m writing for CBBC. I’m writing 3 episodes for The Dumping Ground, their new Instagram initiative. I’ve been doing that since January. It’s been a real learning curve, it’s my first writing gig. Well, not my first, but my first one for writing for continuous characters. 

Hopefully my work gets broadcasted and things don’t get complicated which they can do sometimes. I’m a new writer but if all goes well then hopefully some more doors will open up for me writing-wise. Acting-wise, I had a performance and a showcase with Alt, a London-based company, which focus on an alternative showcase to drama school showcase. It was a 10 week instance of every Friday course. We went over some mimes and techniques, learned some scripts and we performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. 

We’re going to be performing at Southwark Playhouse in London. There’s meant to be a couple of agents, casting directors and producers that are all coming so hopefully someone gets picked up, myself gets picked up. I can make that leap into a more affluent market acting-wise. As well as that, I’m in London and I’m directing my first film. I’m on a course with the National Film and Television School. It’s been an experience and a half. 

I start filming tomorrow so at this moment in time, I’m preparing and doing everything else that goes into directing.

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