In a day and age where you can be anything, why not take a leaf out of Charity Wakefield’s book and be multiple things? The acclaimed British actress talks to Blowout about her take on ethical fashion and helping to tackle a global crisis, as well as her ever flourishing career.
Not short on talent…
In an alternative universe you may have probably known her as an archaeologist, a fashion designer, a musician or a singer. One thing is for certain, it’s that Charity Wakefield is not short on talent. After our conversation with Charity, we are pretty sure that she could have a profession in any of those fields, should she wish.
The thirty-eight year old actress may live and breathe acting, but she has a thirst for taking on hobbies and experiencing new things. Why? Just for the sake of knowing more about something that she has an interest in. Such a smart way to be when you’re in the world of acting, never knowing what role might land in your lap.
So how did a young and energetic Charity end up in the acting world, when she clearly had the brains to take on anything she put her mind to?
It could be said that acting was something innately embedded in Charity as she had family who had been in the acting business.
“I think I was really quite young and at primary school, when I realized that I wanted to become an actress. I never really knew my grandfather, but I had this strange dichotomy of knowing that an acting career was possible,” Charity told Blowout.
Since she’s young…
Charity’s grandfather, better known to us as James Hayter, was an actor himself. Sadly he passed away when Charity was around three years old.
“My mother had obviously grown up with a father in acting, so she wasn’t shy telling me about all of the difficulties that an actor faces and how the work can be very up and down. So, I had a mixed bag of support when I was younger. It was partly encouragement and partly advice that I should not put all of my eggs into one basket and be sure to have a back-up plan, just in case.”
“My mum at the time wasn’t very keen on me getting into acting, so I did loads of other things. At school I took on as many clubs and classes as possible and I almost diverted to taking a career in archaeology. Actually, I found myself really interested in that.”
Playing several roles
We have to wonder how different life would be for Charity had she pursued her interest in archaeology! However, she soon realized after completing her A-Levels, that acting was ultimately what she wanted to do. Lucky for us, as she is certainly one very talented actress, playing several roles in her current play!
“With acting you get to dive into lots of different lives. So being somebody who found it quite difficult to decide what to do, I feel incredibly lucky with my acting roles as I get to pretend to be all these other people and, as a result, have the opportunity to study different periods and research a whole range of people from all different walks of life.” Charity stated.
Her own personal development
When asked her favourite thing about acting, Charity could not pick just one. It’s quite evident that there are so many aspects of her career that she’s taken an interest in and is looking to learn more about, for her own personal development. That thirst for knowledge definitely makes Charity different and a cut above many of her peers.
“I absolutely love the research and I love falling into the different worlds. Regardless of what level I get to, it is something I’m so passionate about, but it is hard and I’ve always done other things to support myself alongside the acting, until very recently”.
She adds “The other things that I’ve done to support myself have certainly contributed to who I am, I do believe that as an actor it’s important to have your feet on the ground because whatever part you’re offered to play, you want to be able to connect with it.”
A few appearances
Charity’s career boasts a colourful spectrum of critically and commercially acclaimed work in both theatre and television. In her most recent appearances, she was part of Channel 4’s drama, ‘Any Human Heart’, which was the winner of Best Miniseries at the BAFTA Television Awards in 2011. She was also in the masterpiece ‘Wolf Hall’, which won a television BAFTA and Golden Globe in 2015.
Charity also appeared in the infamous Dr. Who Christmas Special in 2016, which was the highest rated TV show of the season. We had to ask Charity how that came about!
“You’re not really supposed to talk about it but I was essentially asked to do that role and I just grabbed it with both hands because it was fun and it was going to be aired on Christmas Day, I also really liked the sentiment in it,” she laughed.
Playing the game
“It was quite funny actually when it came on, because I was with my family and my two nieces who I think weren’t quite ready for Dr. Who. You kind of forget that it’s so scary for the youngsters so they watched about twenty minutes of it and then got too scared and so I actually went and played a game with them in the kitchen and I’m thinking this is showing on Christmas Day, what am I doing! But it was actually quite sweet to not have to worry about it.”
Oh Charity, you missed the episode itself! Well, we can confirm for anyone that did not see the Christmas special, it was not one to be missed! It was a little homage to superhero movies and Charity’s character was a modern take and comedic version of Lois Lane, so a delight to watch and a nice twist to the original idea.
Charity also talked us through the comedy series that she was in, alongside Jack Whitehall, called ‘Bounty Hunters’ which aired in 2017. The second series started last month and is still ongoing.
“I feel really proud of it, I really enjoyed doing it. I loved working with Jack Whitehall, he and Freddy Syborn write brilliantly and they’re so much fun to work with! My character is really fun to play. She’s undefined by the other characters or by the men, doesn’t have a boyfriend and doesn’t care about men. So, it was nice to play a character like that, especially in something that’s written by men because often that’s not the case. I’m delighted to say that things are finally changing a bit and yeah, I really enjoyed it!”
Charity’s most recent theatre appearance is in the theatre production ‘Emilia’ at Shakespeare’s Globe and she will be playing several roles including the part of Shakespeare no less, making her the first woman to ever do so. How does Charity feel about being the first woman to play Shakespeare?
“I don’t know if I am! It might well be true but I haven’t looked into whether it definitely is,” she laughed. “I feel really proud actually. At first, thinking about that as an idea, I felt a bit queasy because I thought Oh God that puts pressure on me, but as soon as I got rid of that worry, it’s just another part; it’s my interpretation of that part.” Safe to say, she’s humbled.
“I’m looking forward to discovering even more about him and about that time period whilst I’m playing the part. I’ve got books in my dressing room!” She added.
Knowing how much you love to research and get into character, we believe you on that last point.
Continuously pushing herself
I think it’s safe to say that Charity has accomplished so much in her career to date, which is understandably why she is consistently looking for ways to continuously push herself further. It would be difficult to put a finger on her biggest achievement to date, as her portfolio covers not only acting but other personal projects as well.
“I think acting wise, my biggest achievement would be ‘Wolf Hall’. I really loved being a part of that and I’m proud of it. Outside of acting, I have a vintage shop with a friend that I absolutely love... I’m also an ambassador for the woodland trust, so I work with them as much as possible putting my understanding on environmental issues to use” she stated.
Her vintage shop
Charity is thinking about doing more with the Vintage Shop. Supporting the importance of sustainable fashion. You can also tell how passionate she is about the environment, never stuttering and absolutely overflowing with knowledge and advice. But then at Blowout we believe you can never talk up global issues enough.
“I’ve always loved our woodlands and trees. I grew up in the countryside and I was lucky enough to spend quite a lot of my time playing in the woods. I absolutely want to get the message out there, we need trees, we need the oxygen that they create and we need the micro-climates that the ancient woodlands create” We couldn’t agree more, raising awareness is vital.
“There’s so much more that we don’t understand about our woodlands, particularly how our ancient woodlands work and how they are our life-line. They are literally the air that we breathe, and we need to protect, support and create more of them. I think when you live in a city, everything you purchase materially is not based in the natural world. You really detach from the idea that nature is just working in harmony all the time for you and we take it completely for granted.”
One of the biggest movements in this millennial age is the fact that our fast fashion is harming the environment that we live in and so, more and more consumers are becoming more conscious when shopping in an attempt to tackle this issue ethically. The amount of plastic and packaging that surrounds everything that we purchase, from small to large items, and the fact that not all of it is recyclable is affecting the very world that we live in.
Charity is trying to help this serious issue by shopping more consciously herself. Her mother was very environmentally friendly and therefore had a big influence on Charity’s upbringing, making her understand the importance of this issue and the risks the planet faces. It’s not only a conscious standpoint in her fashion choices but is part of the actress’s lifestyle. She has changed her shopping habits to buying directly from markets and always has her own shopping bags, reducing plastic waste is a big must.
Considering our environment
“What I’ve realized is that as an actor, I’m someone that is going to have to make public choices about certain things and what you wear in public, to events, to interviews or on the red carpet because this gets photographed. If you’re in the public eye, you need to have some responsibility about what you’re saying you support. That’s why I’ve become more keen to talk about what I wear and I try to make choices that are more considerate towards our environment”.
“Maybe it’s just personal because I studied textiles at A-Level. I love learning about materials and I have my vintage shop. I’ve seen how clothes have been made over the last 100 years and I’ve worked with those clothes. I’ve got them mended, I’ve seen how they’ve responded to spillages, what it takes to renew clothes and I suppose I have an inherent understanding because of the way my life’s gone.”
Being so accomplished within the acting world and the fact that Charity is involved with so many projects in other fields, we weren’t surprised to find out that she doesn’t believe acting defines her as a person. It is quite clear that there are so many things that she believes in, that she wants to get stuck into and wants to learn more about, so putting one label on her just won’t cut it.
So, what more could we possibly expect from this incredible woman?
“After this show I’m going to be doing a series called ‘The Great’, which is something we made a pilot for last December. We’ll be filming that at the end of this summer. I don’t really think I have a bar set, there’s just so much more that I want to do, so I don’t know. We’ll just see what happens. I don’t believe in setting bars!”
Neither do we Charity. Continue reaching for the stars!
Emilia runs at the Vaudeville Theatre until 15 June 2019.