An Ac­tress

Leah Macrae, 31, cur­rently stars in BBC’S River City

No. 1 Magazine - - EDINBURGH -

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.

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