'I call myself "work experience girl" because I walk into every job open and receptive to learn, because every job is different. I'm constantly learning about myself and things that work for me’, says Stephanie Levi-John who is fast becoming one of the UKs most sought after actresses after her mind blowing performance in ‘The Spanish Princess’ where she plays a black lady in waiting. We caught up with the actress to talk about her first big breakthrough role.
Firstly, what have you been getting up to in LA?
LA was a bit of a pinch-me moment to be honest, I was really nervous, but trying to be in the moment and soak it all up.
We were there to promote the show at the TCA’s at the Langham Hotel, which was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in.
The days were a bit mental, one started at 5am and we would be in interviews, then photoshoots, then a panel. It was such an amazing experience.
Have you always known you wanted to be an actress?
I’d say from the age of about 10 years old I knew I wanted to be an actress. A friend of mine was scouted for acting school and I remember going to see her in a play and as I was watching her up on the stage, I could really place myself up there and fully visualize what it would be like. I knew then that the stage and screen was what I wanted, so it was just getting myself there
Can you tell me about some of the pivotal roles that you have played that have led you to this point?
It’s funny because I suppose to others they might not seem so pivotal, but to me they have really shaped my acting career and the way I approach a role and job.
I have done a lot of work in children’s theatre at the Unicorn Theatre, which I loved as it allowed me to access another part of acting.
I also worked on a stage play, written by a great friend of mine now, called My Mother Medea where I was playing a 16 year old at the age of 28 (which to be honest, I was pretty happy about!). It was such a great experience and really cemented my feelings about Theatre.
Another stand out performance was in Striking Out, which was incredibly sensitive subject matter and a great challenge to be able to take on. I was playing a character that had fallen into human trafficking in Ireland and once she was out of that, she found love with an Irish farmer and it was about her dealing with the shame that she felt and the damage that it had done to her as a person. She was such a strong character and it was an absolute pleasure to play her.
When it comes to deciding on a role, what is your process and what makes one stand out for you?
I really look for characters that I can sink my teeth in to. I love to research research and research some more for the roles I play, it’s a great way to feel a part of that character. I’ve been very lucky in the roles that I have been able to play, in that they are very strong characters and have amazing stories to tell.
How did you hear about The Spanish Princess?
I’m so lucky to have an incredible agent who finds me these amazing roles, I think there was definitely a buzz around this show from the off, but I might have missed out if it wasn’t for her so I am eternally grateful.
When will it be hitting the screens?
It’s out on the 5th May, which is scarily close and I’m incredibly excited. I can’t actually believe it is all happening!
The show is available in the UK on Amazon Prime
How do you feel about the show and what has the whole process been like for you?
I could not be more proud of the show, it has an incredible cast and we’ve all come together so well and I think we all feel the same way about it. It has been such an amazing production from start to finish and I hope that will be transparent on the screen.
Could you tell me about your character?
Lina is Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, she is a woman who knows her own mind and a bit of a lioness really, which I absolutely loved to play.
The two are very close as they had both left their home and were strangers in this new place together. It was very intriguing when it came to researching for the role as there are numerous books written about Catherine and her future husband. However, there was maybe a sentence written about Lina, so I really had to focus on what it would have been like for her and her story through theirs and what it must have been like for her.
What’s next for you?
I absolutely love my career and feel very lucky to have played the roles I have so far and be working in this industry. I think that what is important for me is longevity in my career, it’s all we can really ask for in a career that we love isn’t it!
I do absolutely love Theatre and it is probably my first love to be honest, but I’m excited to see what the screen has in store for me. I love the nuances and intricacies of the screen and how things can be portrayed on there, so I would love to work more on that.
6 Life Questions :
Biggest regret in life?
I feel very lucky to say that I don’t really believe in regrets. Every decision I have made in life has led me to this point and I wouldn’t want that to be altered in any way, so I suppose that is a great way to look at it.
What would you say to your 16 year old self?
Just to love yourself and stop comparing yourself to other people because you are you for a reason.
Best advice you’ve been given?
It was actually from my friend who wrote My Mother Medea, she told me that you shouldn’t waste time caring about other peoples opinions of you. Other peoples opinions of you are none of your business. I really agree with that, if I spent time worrying about what other people thought of me then I don’t think I would be where I am today.
What makes you happy?
🌟 Well firstly, good food, I love food so much.
🌟 Spending time with good people just makes me feel so light of spirit and really revives me.
🌟 Travelling, the older I’ve got the more I’ve realized how important it is to me to get some sun, which we don’t really get an awful lot of in this country!
🌟 Fitness and a healthy routine is very important to me – I love exercise and what it can do for you mentally and physically.
If you weren’t scared, what would you do?
Something to do with heights as I’m absolutely terrified of them, I’d love to be able to do a bungee jump or skydive and have a completely different perspective on the world from up there!
Should you focus on today, or tomorrow?
I think that tomorrow is never guaranteed so you should stay present, with hopes for the future.
Words Phoebe Calver
Stephanie stars as Lina de Cardonnes in The Spanish Princess, Sundays at 8pm on Starz Play and Amazon Primes
Head pieces : Viviane Go