Leah Macrae, 31, currently stars in BBC’S River City
Iwas always a little entertainer as a child – a bit of an attention seeker. I was very loud and confident too, a total people person. I think it was always destined that I’d be a performer. So after school I did a diploma in acting performance at Langside College.
Then my first open door into acting was when I was cast in The Karen Dunbar Show when I was 19
– that was my first job with the comedy unit who were fantastic to work with. Next I was in a show called Gary Tank Commander and I played Julie. She’s completely different to my River City character Ellie – Julie is a big, extravagant, silly girl. In fact we’re not sure if she’s actually ‘all there’ sometimes.
I was really lucky because it’s a tough business to get into,
and though I’ve never doubted my ability to do my job, you do start to doubt whether it’s going to actually happen for you when you start out – whether you’re going to have the chances. It can be tough because you’ve worked really hard and trained but then you can find yourself handing out flyers or working behind a bar instead of acting, and I worked for some right idiots. For example, some managers who felt like they were so superior to me and would belittle me but I’d have to do it to make money to chase my dream.
I’d wanted to get into River City for a long time,
I’d auditioned lots of times in the past, but I’m glad it took so long because Ellie is just the perfect role. Everything happens for a reason, I could’ve got in sooner and played a character that was only in for a couples of episodes!
Each day I get up at 5.45am and I’m in the make-up chair by 7.20am
– that’s if I’m on set all day, which isn’t always the case. Because I get up so early I shower the night before, I do everything the night before – lay my clothes out right up to the underwear and socks. Everything lies in a little pile outside my room because my husband is still sleeping. I want more time in my bed so I don’t do much in the morning. I literally prep my coffee flask with the coffee in the bottom and have my porridge in the tub without the milk in it. In my job, all you need is to arrive clean – they do everything else like dressing you and putting your make-up on when you arrive.
On set we are always starving by lunchtime, so about 1pm we stop and go to the huge canteen.
We have a tea-break in the morning too. Then we finish up at about 7pm and I’m home for 7.45pm. It’s a long day but I’m lucky because if I’ve worked that late my husband always has dinner on the table for me!
The thing I love most about my job is entertaining people.
It’s an amazing thing to be able to make someone laugh or cry and just take them out of their lives for an hour or two – there’s something quite magical about that.
I get a lot of feedback from the viewers,
they’re great fans because they feel like River City is theirs and that they
I’d take new visitors in Scotland to...
My city (Glasgow) first and then also up north to see some of the beautiful sights up there.
My favourite childhood memory of Scotland is...
I lived down south when I was younger so coming up to visit my two grans in Scotland stands out. I always remember the seven hours in the back of my dad’s white Skoda and then I’d get to eat some Mother’s Pride when my gran made toast.
The thing that gives Scotland it’s spark is...
The people, definitely.
have ownership of it. It’s lovely because the older ladies come over when I’m in Asda doing my shopping and they’ll give me a little pat on the shoulder and say, “Hen you’re doing brilliant, I’m really proud of you.”they’ve obviously followed my career a bit and they’re like, “Oh I’m that chuffed for you.” It’s so nice it’s like you’ve got loads of aunties looking out for you. I’m lucky as well because Ellie’s a great character and they like her, but if you play a baddie, oh it’s tough!
Often people come up to me and talk to me like I’m actually Ellie.
They give me advice – like when Ellie was going out with the wrestler they’d come up to me and tell me to ‘Dump the big lump’ and then they’d say I have to tell Bob how I really feel if I have feelings for him – they really get into it. And all through it I have to keep a straight face and just say, “Yes, ok, will do.” The fact that they’re completely immersed in it is what it’s all about. They’re just excited to see you which I understand because I’m excited to see people that I’m a fan of.
I love what I do but I am harsh when giving out career’s advice for people who want to get into acting, especially to young people.
I cannot stress enough how difficult it is, it’s a really hard job when you’re doing it and it’s a really hard job when you’re not because it’s all you want to do – it’s really frustrating. I always say to young people that you must get your qualifications first, because you’ll need them for other jobs that you’ll have to do in between acting. But I would say to never give up, if you have a dream keep going because even when you feel like giving up, a job could be just around the corner. It’s been like that for me, a day after I’ve had a bit of a wobble and wondered if I can keep going, the job has come up!
Leah on the River City set playing popular character Ellie.