Film special - young Brit actors

Riann steele maintains the best way to hone your craft is to be lucky enough to work with a company such as the RSC and to observe actors attacking their roles in a fearless fashion, “the quest to really get behind a character and the guts to just go at it”, appearing in heavyweight productions such as Coriolanus and Hamlet has certainly helped her do that.

Her introduction to acting may have been via treading the boards but she’s become a recognisable face through TV’s Holby City, Pete vs. The World and Death In Paradise, all of which are far removed from her first major screen turn in Treacle Jnr. As Aiden Gillen’s girlfriend, she portrayed an abusive, manipulative character and whilst this proved challenging she admits playing someone so heightened was “a great deal of fun”. Clearly a humanist, she’s quick to recognise we’re all just doing what we can to get by.

Her biggest film role to date has been in Nirpal Bhogal’s Sket as gang member Shaks, a role she initially had trouble connecting with. Doubting she could do it justice she broke it down and discovered that she’d been through similar situations, just made different choices. She’s not about ‘the method’, her talent is instinctual, a display of empathetic, emotional intelligence. She’s just finished working on an exciting UK production Kodak Cowboy which stars Clarke Peters (The Wire’s Lester Freeman) and claims that watching him was inspirational, that she fed off his enormous energy.

She clearly relishes a challenge: “Working with new writers, new directors, new projects or taking a play that’s been done a million times and doing it a completely different way”. Admirably she doesn’t seem to care so much about the medium, all she cares about is the work.

Words by Anna Wilson
Photo by Samuel John Butt


See Riann Steele in Sket (out now on DVD and Blu-ray)

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