She's a Northern actress who has achieved great success and has been awarded many deserving roles. In summer 2014 it was announced that she had been cast as Tracey Shankley (Sam Dingle's love interest) in ITV Emmerdale. Soon after, Tracey arrived in the village causing nothing but chaos for the Dingle family. I adore Tracey, she lit up my television screen (but sadly destroyed Sam's). As well as Emmerdale, she appeared in E4's Hollyoaks Later in 2011 as Jennifique, an addition to the McQueen family. Stage credits include Shakers at the Hull Truck, Seconds Out at the Reform Theatre, Ladies Day at the Oldham Coliseum and Sleeping Beauty at the Harrogate Theatre. I got the chance to speak to her about life after Emmerdale, what Tracey is up to, advice for actors and much more. Here are 13 Questions with...Amy Walsh!
1. You recently portrayed the role of Tracy in Emmerdale - what was it like getting cast for this role?
Amy: It was a bit of a dream come true for me to be honest. Because, well obviously I'm from Yorkshire so it was filmed nearby my home town which is always nice and I just wanted to kind of have a TV role where I could really get my teeth into a character and show a different side to my acting. This helped because she was kind of a bit sly and there was a lot of different dimensions to her which I liked. So yeah, it was brilliant. It was brilliant news.
2. What was your favourite thing about the character of Tracey?
Amy: Erm, that's an interesting one! I actually really loved when her cruel side came out and that was the most fun to play! But also, in contrast to that, I also loved when they showed her vulnerability as well and that only happened a couple of times. Not many at all...because I knew more of her background and her upbringing and stuff that I'd kind of developed myself. It was nice to play those moments as well and to show that she's not just a nasty person that's out to wreck everyone's lives, she's the person she's had to be to get by, her life. So yeah, I liked the extreme sly, sneaky nastiness and the extreme sensitive side of her, you know what we saw at odd times.
Me: I really liked Tracey! I'm missing her at the moment!
Amy: Are you? (Laughs) that's nice to hear.
3. So what do you think she is up to now after leaving the village?
Amy: It's an interesting one because she left quite abruptly and then, you know, most people didn't think she'd go anywhere without a fight. I think she's probably one of these people that gets what she can out of the situation, knows she's pushing her luck a bit, and then moves on to the next. So I imagine, she's probably...I think she's probably gone back with her ex. Because I think that was her only other option and that's why being with Sam was kind of better than that, just because it wasn't with her ex. You know, he used to beat her up and stuff, actually I don't think she had any other options. I'd like to think hasn't gone back there, but imagine she probably would have.
4. Do you think it's possible that Tracey might return one day to cause more problems for the Dingles?
Amy: I'd love to think that, to be honest, because I think there was a lot of hope for that character and you don't get many kind of...I call her a villain, I mean I don't think she was that bad, but from what people have said to me, they think she was pretty bad. Everyone's like 'I don't like what you did to Sam' and I'm like 'I'm sorry!' So yeah, I do think there's room for another baddie. It's always interesting when it's a woman, I think. Because, I liked with Tracey that you don't expect what's actually going on in their head. You don't really see it until the sly look or whatever. So, I'd love to go back, I think, if the storyline came up then that'd be amazing. I think there's probably room for it! (Laughs)
Me: I'd like to see her back one day...
Amy: Aw, thank you.
Me: But I don't like the fact that she broke Sam's TV.
Amy: I know, but that was accidental. That was one of the less malicious things she did. It was a bit like 'typical - Tracey's done it' but actually it was an accident, but she was making herself at home far too quickly, I think! But that's just because she's a bit of a clumsy girl! (Laughs) How many people fall into a TV set?!
Me: I know! How's he going to watch Emmerdale now?!
Amy: Yeah, exactly! (Laughs)
5. So moving on, you played the role of Jennifique in E4's Hollyoaks Later series in 2011 - what was that experience like for you?
Amy: That was amazing actually, I was really lucky 'cause we were filming in Ibiza for most of it, which is a lovely perk. So, yeah we flew out and had a week there and had a couple of months back at the studios in Liverpool. I was really lucky to come in as part of such a big family in the series because often with the late night series - you come in and you're kind of separate from the actual show - you know, you're coming in for that specific storyline, but for me I was part of the McQueen family, so I instantly felt like, totally taken on board and part of them and we had a really nice time filming it. And again, the character was meaty and I had quite a lot to do and that was late night so I was really kind of pushed and, yeah, I loved it.
6. As well as television, you have been a stage actress and have had many theatre roles. Would you like to return to the stage any time soon?
Amy: Yeah, I would love it. Actually I went to see a production of a company that I worked for a few times the other night and I mean...it's small-scale touring and the money is...you know, there's not much in it but you do kind of think 'oh yeah!' I could definitely go back to the stage. For sure, there's no doubt in my mind that I will do more theatre hopefully if I get the job and hopefully more TV. I've always said a nice mixture - that would be ideal. It's not easy for everyone but if you can do that, I think that's what keeps your passion 'cause you don't get stuck in a rut and I absolutely love theatre. I love it. I love being on stage every night in a performance, and I love the rehearsal process which is what obviously, you don't really get in TV, especially soap/drama. So yeah, I definitely think I would do again, for sure.
7. What's been your favourite character to play? Because you've portrayed quite a few, haven't you?
Amy: Yeah...that's a good question. There's quite a few. I'm quite typecast, to be honest. Like, I'm often cast for the gobby, tarty northerner with a heart and a lot of the roles I've done have kind of been of that ilk. Tracey was one of my favourites - not because it was most recent, like, but because there was another side to her, there was a darker, more malicious side to her than I think I've ever played before and it wasn't as typically me as some of the others I've been. I had a few different characters in a play I did. One of the characters was so tiny, I only had a couple of scenes as her but she was like a pub landlady. I had to do a different accent and physicality which I really liked. When everyone came to see it they pointed out that character and I was like 'that was tiny! I was only on a bit!' But, I often like playing characters that are very different to me, so something like that.
Amy: Erm, if there's anything else that you love to do then, kind of keep those things going, if you can. If there's anything you're good at as well as acting I always think and kind of wish I had something to be focus on as well in those down times that you're out of work, because they can be quite hard for an actor. But on a more positive note; you have to be dedicated. It has to be the top thing on your priority list, I think. And I think, know your craft. Everyone's different and everyone works differently and finds different things helpful. You learn that if you go to drama school, there's different techniques and methods and things to use, to help you. But just find what works for you and develop that and stick with that. That's what I learnt. Also, if you've got a niche of any description, find that. Like, if there's anything that makes you different from anyone else, use it. I had to realise that I'm going to work in the North probably more than I am in London. I live in London but every acting job I've got has been up north, because of my accent, obviously, my roots. As soon as I accepted that that was probably where my roles were gonna come, you can hone in on that and work on that area of the country, almost, to kind of break in to that, get into a circle up there. Wherever you're from; it's not just about where you're from, it's about...if you play an instrument...I know some of my friends are in work constantly because they play a few different instruments, if you can do that then that's good as well or anything creative really.
9. You spoke about attending drama school, was it the ALRA you attended? What was it like studying Drama there?
Amy: The ALRA, yeah. It's a brilliant school in the south of London. They've also got [another] one now, actually. They've opened ALRA North in Wigan. So yeah, they're a brilliant school and I loved my three years there. I had to save up to be able to go there and it was a struggle, financially, and also, personally it's not easy. Anytime that thinks taking a degree in Drama is easy, it's not. Drama school, you're pushed to your limits and they often say they break you down to build you back up again and at the time I was like 'this is ridiculous', you know, fighting against it (laughs) and actually, in times I realise how they did that and why and how I was stronger for it. So yeah, I'm very grateful for my training, definitely.
|Amy Walsh as part of the cast of |
The Harrogate Theatre's Sleeping Beauty (2013)
10. What's been the highlight of your career so far? Has there been a particular moment that's stuck with you?
Amy: I'd say probably getting the job on Emmerdale. Even though I'd done TV before. I think that was most definitely one of them. Just because, years ago I auditioned for them but then I got my Hollyoaks gig but couldn't go for a recall so for a while, it had been kind of meant to be. So that was a really amazing time, when I got the contract through. Another time...possibly, I think maybe getting my first ever job which was with John Godber, Hulk Truck, which was a massive, massive deal. He wrote me a part. Basically, I got cast to understudy all four characters of a play that he's written called 'Shakers', they were doing a tour. They were doing a six-month tour and I understudied the whole tour and then at the end of the tour, he decided that he wanted me to be on stage every night so he added another character, for the last six weeks of the production. He added another character into the play and that was me. So, that was pretty impressive for my first professional job! (Laughs) So yeah. That was definitely a high for sure.
11. So who inspired you to be who you are today?
Amy: Erm...I suppose...it's always a funny questions because my eldest sister's an actress and I always saw her doing really well, she was a bit of a child star. She was in Emmerdale, actually, about fifteen years ago. So, she kind of made me know that it could happen, like her success made me believe this does happen to people and I could be one of them. Her career was amazing and was inspiring but I think I've kind of been inspired by people around me believing in me, to be honest. I was low in confidence, really, and especially when I went to drama school I felt a bit like the underdog coming down from up north and there was really intelligent people in my class talking about Brecht and Checkhov and I was like 'ooh..' and it just took a few people (throughout my life, not just at drama school) like my teacher at school, my teacher at college, a few different people to inspire me to carry on and to believe in myself. Still to this day, I have that. Like a director that I've worked with a few times. I know that he believes in me and that helps. I think that's where your inspiration to carry on comes, and to aim high or to try and make your dreams come true, so to speak. So yeah...my family, though, as well. Like I say, my sister and my parents were really supportive and I was very lucky in that respect.
12. Speaking of family - you recently welcomed Kimberley's baby boy into the family! How did that feel for you?
Amy: Aww amazing! He's absolutely beautiful. I've already been a nanny for her for a while. She had to go back to work, so I went with her and looked after him while she was working. He's just amazing. We're really lucky, he's healthy and happy and they're doing really well so I'm an auntie to three nephews now! My Christmas list is gonna be LONG! (Laughs)
13. This is always a really fun question for everyone: if you could invite any three celebrities of famous people to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Amy: Ooh...that's a good one! Erm, I absolutely love David Beckham! I think he just has to be there and I've got my boyfriend in mind because I think he loves him just as much! (Laughs) All men love him, don't they as well? Straight guys. Erm, so Beckham might be one of them, because I want to see how he normally is so yeah, him. Erm, Beyoncé. Oh my God. How did I forget her?! Beyoncé. That'd be on my list. I'm really inspired by Julia Roberts, as an actress. I think she's amazing, how many different roles she's played. So I'd like to meet her and have a little chat about acting with her, I think.
Amy also told me about how she will be competing on this year's ITV Text Santa netball team with Michelle Hardwick, Charley Webb, Eden Taylor-Draper
and Sammy Winward...
Amy: I'm taking part in the netball match, Emmerdale vs Coronation Street for Text Santa in November. So it's a brilliant cause and any Emmerdale or Corrie fans should really come down and see it. It's on the 22nd of November in Manchester. I'm going back to play with the cast and the crew, which is really exciting. I did a bit of training whilst I was up there for a bit of fun and exercise and they've asked me to go back, which is really nice.
You can book your tickets to see Amy on the Emmerdale netball team for ITV Text Santa by clicking here. Amy also had the following message for all of her fans...
"I am massively grateful to everyone that's been supporting me throughout the years. I've got a few people that have literally been to see me in productions up and down the country and tiny little theatres and now they texting saying they're watching me on Emmerdale which is really nice. And also anyone that's tuned in to see what I'm doing on Emmerdale, it's really nice to have that nice feedback I've had, even though she's a bit of a nasty character, I'be had quite a lot of nice feedback which is really nice to hear. Especially when you go into something so established and successful, so yeah thanks to everyone. Keep honing on, keep going at it if you're trying to do it yourself because if often is just about timing and sticking it out, I think. Like, there's been so many times where I've thought 'I'm slacking it off, I'm gonna think of something else because I can't deal with it', you know. The down times when you're out of work. But then something always comes up so as long as you've got that dedication and commitment it should happen. I'd like to think it will happen - one day."
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Thanks for reading,