Since being in New York I have been exploring my photography and attempting to improve it in every way I can. I dabbled with photographing people with my post A portrait of a stranger in Central Park, however, one portrait shoot does not a photographer make, and I have been on the hunt for any opportunity to take pictures of real people (and apparently being newly married does not come with the perks of a captive model).
A wonderful choreographer friend, Michael Heatley (with an awesome dance company, Hit The Ground Running Dance Company) put me in touch with the ever so lovely Billie Aken-Tyers, a lass from Consett in the North East of the UK, who followed her dreams across the pond. She has kindly agreed to be a test subject for a photography shoot in Central Park and I’m also going to pick her brains.
Why Broadway and not the West End?
I just had a feeling that I needed to be in New York. I didn’t have any kind of inkling to be on Broadway over the West End, but now I am here I am in love with it and there is nothing I would love more than to be on Broadway. I fell in love with the atmosphere, the wonderful work and there's a very close camaraderie within Broadway that I really love.
What has been your most exciting character in your career so far?
I would say the world premiere of Fairy Cakes, with Douglas Carter Beane, because I got to create this character from scratch - nobody else has played her. It was such a wonderful gift to have a role written for my skill set that was so funny and witty. The role pushed me, everything about that show pushed me: it pushed me vocally; it pushed me physically; it pushed my comedic timing. The newest role that I’m exploring is the role of the playwright, which is a whole other world as an artist that is very fulfilling personally, in ways that I didn’t think that it would be.
What advice would you give to budding young actors? (TVYT this one is for you)
Work hard, stick at it. Don’t be afraid to dream big and don’t be afraid to leave home, travel and see new things. Educate yourself, read, go to see theatre and get involved with the communty. Appreciate your roots so that you can be a richer and fuller artist when you’re older.
What 3 shows should I see on Broadway at the moment?
- The Color Purple
- Hamilton, if you can get tickets
- Something Rotten, before it closes.
What is your favorite place in the city?
Lincoln Center. I had one of the most magical nights of my life there. I’d never been to the opera before and I got to see The Enchanted Island at the Metropolitan Opera whilst sitting in the manager’s box and I had a real "Pretty Woman" night at the theatre. At night, when it’s all lit up and the fountain is running and alight it is so beautiful. It is one of the few places that harkens back to the old style of theatre where you have to get dressed up to go... if I had an Opera cape I would wear it.
Final Question! When do you feel like a real New Yorker or is this an impossibility for out of towners like you and I?
It’s absolutely possible and the answer is when you’ve cried on the subway or when you’ve killed a cockroach with your bare hands. Then you can say you’re a New Yorker.
Well I must say, I haven't cried on the subway yet, or killed a cockroach with my bare hands... and I'm not particularly looking forward to either of those mile stones! Thanks for the catch up Billie!
Want to see a little bit of what Billie has been up to since she made the big move to NYC?