NEW SERIES: #2 Whole-Hearted – ‘Gemma’


This New Series of hearts is inspired my connections with passionate people – ones that live their loves, train, teach or work in their dreams. These people are not within the creative industry – and that is what makes this project so exciting for me…because I believe creativity exists in all of us. 

I have had the opportunity to ‘interview’ these guest ‘non-artists’ and I have mailed them a blank heart art canvas to half-create and return. Then I have finished the other half and posted below! The results are interesting…and I can’t wait for you to discover my next delightful half-a-heart creator! Put your hands together for Gemma, Actress, Singer and Dancer…!

I know you love everything theatrical – but can you share your earliest acting/dance memory with us? My mum took me to see Phantom of the Opera, in London when I was just 4 years old!  I apparently sat mesmerised, never moved throughout the entire show. The whole front of house team all came in to peek at the teeny little girl, entranced, sat on top of every single booster seat in the house to enable me to see! A 4 year old sitting through a 3 hour show!! I remember being moved by the music! Michael Crawford  was playing Phantom. I wrote to him telling him I loved him! He wrote back!  Years later I worked with him in Wizard of Oz, at The Palladium. I told him my little tale! I still love him!

What is a typical day/shift (at work?) for you when you’re on stage? Depends on the job, and day! I have understudied in every job I’ve done, so during the day I, (along with all the covers,) am called in to rehearse, so when a cast member goes off the show,( through illness, injury, holiday, whatever it may be,) I know that role,  and can perform it at a moments notice. Then on matinee days,( twice a week,) we have 2 shows, so I’m in the theatre for around 12. To get make up on before our physical and vocal warm ups. Then hair into pin curls, and stocking caps, show underwear on, microphone pack on (usually a pouch is sewn  into your knickers!! To hold the Mike pack!!)  then threaded through your clothes and the wires stuck down on your skin. ( just Mike tape, doesn’t hurt!) costume on, wig on, wig glue on!  Have to be downstairs backstage at act one beginners (5 mins before show.) Do show! Do it all again later! On one show days, if not rehearsing get in at around 5/5.30. Repeat the above!

If you could see any show tonight what would it be and why? The Witches of Eastwick.  Was the first west end show I was in, so that’s special to me. Also, it is the most glorious show. It has everything. Simply perfect.

I walked down the aisle to the overture of Witches!!  Just adore it.

What 3 things can you never be without when you are getting ready for a show? I have to have a tidy dressing room place! Can’t work in a horrible muddle! Time! I hate rushing, but always end up hurrying some how!! A mirror! Trying to get ready without being able to see your face, to apply stage make up, and your hair, to be able to do pin curls, is a nightmare! Have had to do it before, and it put me in a bad mood!

If you had any advice for someone wanting to become a professional actress/dancer what would it be? If you don’t love performing with your entire soul, if it doesn’t light you up like nothing else can – if it isn’t something that you cannot live without. My advice would be to concentrate on a different profession. This business is brilliant, but also hard and at times cut throat. You will be out of work for periods of time. To enter this profession is to accept all this.

Or ,concentrate on your other talents and build your career in another direction. You can always go to see shows, and get your fix of theatre. We love an appreciative audience.

Could you share the last one or two people/websites/artists/events that inspire you? My very good friend Richard roe, is going from strength to strength as a choreographer.  He’s very in demand and I’m so proud. He’s hardworking and insanely talented, and it really makes me smile that his work is getting recognition, and being seen by so many. That I find inspiring.

I saw The Colour Purple at The Menier Chocolate Factory around 2 years ago. I’m still feeling inspired by it!! The piece is completely brilliant, the music is beautiful, the staging /choreography was excellent, the cast were fantastic, and the lead Cynthia Erivo is stunning. She is so very inspiring. The show is heartbreaking, and Cynthia, this tiny little woman, with the biggest voice, just holds the entire audience in the palm of her hand. She is superb. I love that theatre can do that, move you to the point of tears.

What memorable thing did your mum/dad used to say to you while you were growing up? Mum didn’t really have a memorable saying but a memorable thing she did was never ever miss any show, performance I was involved in.

She was there every single time supporting me. I remember once, I had a tiny solo in the schools carol concert,( stage school, carol concert was in Covent Garden – so was quite a big deal, and I was a bit scared) and mum was working and couldn’t get time off. I remember being upset that she wouldn’t be there to hear me sing my little bit, and it would be the first time that she wasn’t there.

I remember the concert had started, it got to the song in which I sang a solo, I stood up, and literally as I took a breath to start, my mum walked through the doors into the church! She stood, smiling, watching my verse, stayed for that song, then quietly left, to get back to work. Love that!

Can you tell us what inspired you to create you half-a-heart? Music makes me smile, makes me feel inspired, it makes me euphoric, and is able to bring on emotions and feelings by just playing. It is such a powerful tool. So, as I find music beautiful, I figured I’d use actual written music for my heart. I also find sheet music really quite beautiful.

I chose to use a selection of flying related brushes to create a photoshop artwork in vibrant colours. I combined this with some birds to represent the song/singing aspect plus some pin-up brushes. I really like the contrast and compliments the music paper.

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