Arts

Actress Kerri Quinn on Coronation Street, lockdown and the challenges facing actors

Acclaimed Belfast actress Kerry Quinn is appearing in a new short film as part of a series exploring the pandemic's fallout. She talks about the drama and about her real-life lockdown

Kerri Quinn features in Wake Cake, part of the Splendid Isolation lockdown drama series. Picture from BBC

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you as a performer?

A career in acting can always be unpredictable and you often wonder where your next job/pay cheque is coming from. Nothing has prepared us for this kind of crisis and everyone has been affected by it, but performers will be among the last people back to work. My diary was pretty full for the year but that is no longer the case. Theatres won’t be open until next year possibly and when they do reopen there will still be limitations in terms of audience, cast and crew. I was due back to Coronation Street this month and although they’ve resumed filming, it could be next year by the time they reach my storyline. We are all in limbo at the minute and craving the opportunity to be creative, to make a few quid but also for our state of mind.

You are starring in Stacey Gregg's Wake Cake as part of Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama. Can you tell us about this drama short and how/where you recorded it?

I was delighted to be asked to perform Stacey’s piece as I adore her writing. Emma Jordan, the director, and I worked in together on Educating Rita (at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre), which was a very special point of my career. Wake Cake is about loss, experiencing a Zoom funeral for the first time and the struggle to buy the ingredients to make these special cakes in lieu of her recently deceased aunt. It was so much fun to film, albeit a smidge hot. It was a scorcher of a day and I was in fleecy jammies. We filmed it in Emma’s car at my mum’s house which allowed us to film from a variety of angles. It didn’t take us long at all and we laughed a lot.

Did the lockdown inspire you creatively in other ways?

Lockdown has inspired me to take a class in technology because Zoom and Skype etc. terrify me. I’m old school. Staying connected with people has been important so I had to challenge myself. I haven’t been too creative – to my shame – but I have been supportive of other people who have, if that counts...

At the start of the year you spoke of the need for a support network for Northern Ireland actors. Do you think this is even more important post-Covid 19?

Like all actors, you go for jobs and sometimes it doesn’t go your way; it’s the nature of the beast. It can be difficult to deal with, but you put it to bed and move on to the next one. When you don’t hear back from an audition it makes the healing process a lot harder and sometimes you are left feeling undervalued. Mental health is an issue in our profession and I think small things like a courtesy yes or no could certainly help.

Kerri Quinn – We filmed it in director Emma’s car at my mum’s house. Picture from BBC

Last year viewers saw you star as Vicky Jefferies in Coronation Street. Would you like to star in other soap operas?

I loved playing Vicky, she’s been on quite a journey. I’d go back to Corrie in a heartbeat and the plan was to revive the character this summer; however, that could all change now. In terms of going to another soap... I’d feel like I was cheating if I did, but would never rule it out.

Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama is a collection of six five-minute theatrical pieces exploring life in lockdown. They will be broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Thursday June 25 at 10pm. The project is a collaboration between BBC Arts, the Lyric Theatre and BBC Northern Ireland with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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