'Get out there' Doctors actress Laura Rollins on how she bagged the part, tips for actors and more
Laura Rollins is a British Soap Awards-nominated actress known for playing Nurse Ayesha Lee in hit TV series Doctors. Here she tells Mandy News how she started out and what the audition process for Doctors was like along with some tips for actors.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how you got involved in acting and working in TV and Film.
I'm Laura Rollins and I currently play nurse Ayesha Lee on BBC One's daytime drama Doctors. I started acting at age 11 when I successfully auditioned for the Carlton Junior Television Workshop in Birmingham under Colin Edwards. The workshop was a great place to begin developing my skills for both stage and screen, as the workshop's ethos was to create a safe space for young performers starting out in their careers. It was there that I landed my first TV role aged 13, featured in commercials and also performed at the Children's BAFTA awards and worked on the stage at the Birmingham REP.
Unsure as to whether I wanted to be an actor in my late teens and not feeling ready for drama school, I first went to the University of Leeds to read English and Theatre before going on to study a one year MA in acting at Arts Ed, London.
How did you come to work on Doctors, what was the audition process like?
Scary! I got a call from my agent the night before the audition and was given three large scenes to prepare. I had to pull a sicky at work on the day, as it was too late to book time off. I remember travelling across London in a huge coat and putting on a "I'm really sick" face for the duration of the tube journey just in case someone from work saw me.
Once in the audition room with Rowland Beckley and Stephen Moore, it was really relaxed and fun to play the scenes. I got a recall the following week, which meant cancelling my bank holiday plans so I could prepare and I kept thinking, "I hope this is worth it." In my second audition, I met with the producers and was able to ask questions about the character and tell them how I saw Ayesha as a person. I performed another four scenes and then played the waiting game for another week while the final decision was made and I was given the part.
What is the process of working on an episode; from receiving the script to an episode being aired?
I receive my scripts one week before shooting, which gives me time to read them, learn the lines and make choices. On the day of shooting, we have very little time to rehearse the scene (we shoot up to 25 pages a day on Doctors, so you really must prepare) and most of the time we only get 1-2 line runs, a block through and a crew show before the camera turns over. The episode typically airs three months later.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced on the show?
The biggest and, also most rewarding, challenge I've had on the show, was playing the death of Ayesha's mother Bren. It was a dream storyline, as I really got to flex my skills, but it was also the most emotionally draining work I've done to date. I made myself ill, as the schedule was relentless and the stakes were so high.
You just finished working on The Reserves. What can you tell us about this project?
The Reserves is a project in its early stages, which I am starring in and co-producing with Taz Skylar (creator), Osy Ikhile and Elham Ehsas. It's just been signed to Triforce Creative Network, which we are all extremely excited about and is currently being pitched to channels.
What advice do you have for young actors?
Don't wait for the phone to ring. Get out there and make your own work.
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