“Don’t Worry. You Can Waste So Much Time Worrying!” 5 Insider Tips With Actress Ellise Chappell
I had the pleasure to interview Ellise Chappell. Ellise is best known for her leading role as Morwenna, Elizabeth’s cousin, in much-loved historical BBC1 drama, POLDARK. She joined the BAFTA-winning cast in 2017, with Aiden Turner, Harry Richardson and Eleanor Tomlinson and is set to remain a character-regular in forthcoming seasons. As the love interest of Drake Carne (Harry Richardson), Ellise is in one of Poldark‘s central romances, although wed to the abusive, Obsbourne Whitworth (Christian Brassington). Her character is in a turbulent relationship, who struggles between her duties as a woman in that era and following her heart. The drama is set to further unfold, as Ellise returns as Morwenna in Season 4 of Poldark, set to TX this June. Her previous television includes BBC crime drama NEW BLOOD (2016), created by Anthony Horowitz, in which she played the role of Wendy Roberts, alongside Kimberly Nixon and Mark Bonnar. In the same year, Ellise lead the cast in fantasy TV movie, THE LAST DRAGON SLAYER, based on Jasper Fforde’s novel and which premiered over Christmas. Ellise played Jennifer Strange, next to Matt Berry and Anna Chancellor. Chappell also has experience on the stage, having previously undertaken training with The National Youth Theatre (NYT) in 2015. During this time, she joined the casts of the NYT’s productions of Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, playing the role of Duke, Isabella in a new adaptation of WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Amanda in the new play CONSENSUAL.
· What is your “backstory”?
In a nutshell: English countryside, Mum, Dad, older brother and cat.
· Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting/directing/performing career?
When I was 6/7, I went to a theatre club every week called ‘Angels’. It was the best, we’d do end of term shows full of musical numbers and little skits. I still have a videotape of the last show I did — it’s hilarious. I was particularly proud of this one because I landed the speaking role of ‘candlestick’ in a Beauty & the Beast number. I was a very passionate candlestick and I must have made a good impression because shortly after, the teacher arranged an audition for me for Young Cosette in the West End production of Les Miserables. I never actually went though…and thinking about it, I have absolutely no idea why I didn’t!
· What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Outside of acting, I’m really passionate about environmental issues, particularly those surrounding plastic pollution, and so am looking to raise awareness around this. I’ve recently been in touch with some amazing women, Emily Penn and Lucy Gilliam who founded eXXpedition, a non-profit who arrange voyages with a crew of 14 women to sample different parts of the ocean around the world for plastics and pollutants. They aim to highlight the devastating impact single-use plastic and toxics from land-based activities are having on our planet’s oceans, ecosystems and on human health. I’m hoping to raise money for this incredible cause, and am potentially joining their voyage later this year — exciting!
· Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I was recently in the same room as Steven Spielberg? I mean, I was probably more than 100 metres away from him, but still…Steven Spielberg. Epic! I’ve seen so many of his films but only saw E.T. for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was screened in a performance hall with a live orchestra and oh my goodness, it was magical. I wept.
· Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
So many. But being an actor, I should probably talk about Shakespeare! His work is not only still being performed, but it is still being reimagined and made relevant today, more than 400 years later. It’s staggering. In the play People Places & Things by Duncan Macmillan, the lead character talks about being an actor and says, ‘You get to speak poetry, words you would never think to say but which become yours as you speak them’. She then goes on to quote Shakespeare, which gives me ALL the chills:
When he shall die take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun.
· What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Hollywood?
I would say grow a thick skin, and make sure that it’s your absolute passion in life, that you can’t see yourself doing anything else, because it can be really hard — sometimes rejection is such a constant, it can be so disheartening, but keep at it!
· How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I recently collaborated with UK clothing brand Seasalt to create a unique canvas bag. Each bag sold helps raise money for Disability Rights UK, a charity working for equal participation for all.
· What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”
- Be prepared to be vulnerable, a lot. When I first started, I never knew just how ready you have to be to let your guard down and be completely open with people you may have only just met. It’s a terrifying thing, but probably the most exciting thing too.
- Don’t worry. You can waste so much time worrying! I recently heard the phrase, ‘Everything is as it should be’, which for me is always reassuring and uplifting to think, especially when so much is out of your control in this industry. There really is no point in worrying. All you can do is be yourself and do your best.
- Always carry earphones. Auditions are nerve-wracking, but they’re even more nerve-wracking when you can hear other actors doing their audition before you. It can sometimes make you second guess yourself, which is very unhelpful. Bring earphones so you can zone in and focus on your own work.
- There is a lot of waiting. A lot of waiting — mainly for phone calls and emails. You end up spending days doing things in halves because half of your attention is always on your phone. Find other things that you can focus on and enjoy; if you have something else you love doing, and manage to keep yourself busy, it will stop you from going crazy.
- Never assume anything. You always need to be prepared, but it’s risky to picture how something is going to go, because usually it will be nothing like how you imagined and then you’re thrown off. It’s best just to be ready for anything.
· Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
David Attenborough. There would just be so much to talk about and I could listen to him for hours. Also, private breakfast please, it is absolutely 100% the best meal of the day.