Susannah Fielding is at home on stage under the bright lights of the theatre. The passionate actress has excelled through her performances opposite Matt Smith in American Psycho plus David Walliams and Sheridan Smith in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This Christmas she will play the part of Portia in The Merchant of Venice at the Almeida Theatre in Islington directed by Rupert Goold which will transport the cast to a modern day setting in Las Vegas promising a spectacular show of glitter and gambling. We caught up with Susannah backstage to talk about her stage secrets, tips to make it in show business, transforming into costume and how she styles her jeans off-duty.
DONNA IDA: This December you'll be playing Portia in Merchant of Venice. What can we expect?
Susannah Fielding: Expect exactly the opposite from what you would expect from Shakespeare. Flashing lights, dancing girls, guns and pageant princesses. It's a must see for a contemporary and edgy take on this classic play.
DONNA IDA: You've worked opposite Matt Smith, David Walliams and Sheridan Smith, what were they like to work with? Give us the behind the scenes gossip!
Susannah Fielding: I'm so lucky to have worked with some great, great actors. Matt Smith is phenomenally talented and has great stage craft too, he's also a great person to work with in a long run because he changes it up every night. David is so generous, a great company leader and fun to work with on stage and Sheridan Smith is a talent powerhouse! I love watching her work.
DONNA IDA: How did you get started with your acting career? Where did you study?
Susannah Fielding: I didn't really know anyone in this industry while I was growing up and didn't realise you could make a living from performing. I was lucky enough to do my levels at Christ's Hospital, a charity boarding school which has an amazing theatre. I saw so many brilliant plays and spent as much time as I could on stage and then I got the acting bug! From there I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where I received the best training I could have asked for. I use something one of those teachers taught me on stage every night.
DONNA IDA: What five tips would you give to other aspiring actresses?
1) Be yourself. I spent a lot of time trying to be what I thought people wanted but it's your idiosyncrasies and things that are unusual to you that make you interesting.
2) See LOTS of theatre, film and TV. It's what inspires me to keep going in the dry times and also what helps me learn and improve.
3) Be clear about your goals. Ask yourself what YOU want to do and what things YOU like watching. Don't be swayed by the masses, then set your sights, ignore the naysayers and GO FOR IT!
4) Get to know your industry. Be an usher, volunteer backstage, go to Q&A sessions with casting directors and speak to fellow actors. You're making a big decision and you want to know if it's an industry where you feel comfortable and that suits your personality.
5) Audition for drama school. If nothing else it will show you how you deal with nerves and then you can decide if you're up for doing that three times a week. Auditioning, nerves and rejection are a big part of an actor’s life. The highs make it worth it though.
DONNA IDA: How important is the staging and costumes to your performance?
Susannah Fielding: I love transforming myself and I find costume, props and wigs really helpful in doing that. I really like it when I come out of stage door and people don't recognise me.
DONNA IDA: Tell us about your day to day wardrobe - how do you wear your jeans?
DONNA IDA: What are your favourite jeans? Which was your very first pair?
Susannah Fielding: My dad bought me my first pair of Levi's and I lived in them till they wore through at both knees. I was SO proud of them! Now I love my Topshop Jamie Jeans and my IDA Ivy Skinnies.
DONNA IDA: Do you prefer high rise jeans or low rise jeans and why?
Susannah Fielding: I always wear high rise. I have a small waist but a curvy bum so I feel they flatter my shape.
DONNA IDA: Who is your fashion icon?
Susannah Fielding: I think Jennifer Aniston always looks classy and fabulous. For evening wear it’s gotta be Audrey Hepburn. Style queen.
DONNA IDA: Describe your style highs and style lows?
Susannah Fielding: Turquoise and peach shell suit circa 1991. Low.
High. When I'm confident and smiling. A smile sells any outfit.
DONNA IDA: Where are you spending Christmas?
Susannah Fielding: I have a quite hefty show schedule in December so I'm looking forward to three days off over Christmas. They will be spent at home in London, PJs on, glass of wine in hand, fire, cat, boyfriend. Bliss.
DONNA IDA: Your Twitter bio says you're a sleep monster and sausage roll lover. If you could only choose one, which would it be?
Susannah Fielding: Sleep, sleep, sleep. Never, ever wake me up unless you have a cup of tea in hand.
DONNA IDA: What's next?
Susannah Fielding: I'd love my next role to be as rewarding as playing Portia. That is my only requirement.
Shop Designers. Read our next Style Insider with SuperGymChick Claire Woodward: