Learn­ing is­sues no bar to TV am­bi­tion

ACT­ING DREAM FUL­FILLED

Sunday Sun - - News - By Kali Lind­say Re­porter kali.lind­say@reach­plc.com

AN as­pir­ing TV star with autism and dys­lexia has landed roles in one of ITV’s most pop­u­lar shows and a Net­flix drama.

Alex Gaffney, from Gateshead, has al­ways dreamed of ap­pear­ing on the small screen but, due to his learn­ing dis­abil­ity and lack of con­fi­dence, thought he didn’t stand a chance.

Now, the 26-year-old has achieved his am­bi­tions by land­ing roles in Vera and a pi­lot for new Net­flix drama Two Wolves.

Alex hopes his suc­cess can in­spire other peo­ple with autism and dys­lexia so they fol­low their dreams.

Speak­ing about his first day on the set of Vera, he said: “It felt like home and I loved it. It was amaz­ing, re­ally, re­ally good.

“I was in the back­ground for Vera and had to re­act to an­other per­son in a cafe, that was my scene. It was re­ally in­ter­est­ing.”

He added: “It [Net­flix] was an­other drama and I’m do­ing back­ground work. It was a re­ally big deal be­ing part of it.”

Alex first got a taste for act­ing at school when he took to the stage at New­cas­tle’s The­atre Royal in Romeo and Juliet.

“At that mo­ment I knew it was what I wanted to do,” he said.

“I just didn’t know if it was go­ing to hap­pen be­cause I didn’t know the right places to get the sup­port.

“I al­ways felt mo­ti­vated to never give up. I started writ­ing mu­sic and it helped me re­mem­ber words and pro­nounce cer­tain words.”

Alex was able to gain con­fi­dence af­ter tak­ing part in the free tele­vi­sion train­ing course Ticbox – Tele­vi­sion In­dus­try Course For All – which is run by cast­ing agents NE1 4.TV. Af­ter gain­ing his Ticbox TV ac­cred­i­ta­tion, he was cho­sen to ap­pear in crime drama Vera and will also ap­pear in se­ries nine next year.

Alex, who did an in­ten­sive week­long course at Sun­der­land Col­lege, said: “The course has changed my life, for me it has al­ready opened doors.

“I would say to any­one with a dis­abil­ity, don’t let it hold you back. If you want to be on TV give it a shot – you only live once. You have to make the most of life and not give up. I got out of my com­fort zone do­ing this and it paid off.”

In a bid to in­spire oth­ers, Alex has cre­ated an on­line vlog shar­ing skills he picked up while on the Ticbox course.

He also talks about how he pre­pared for his day on the set of Vera.

Bessie Wil­liams, cre­ator of the Ticbox cour­ses and owner of NE1 4.TV, said she wanted to run the cour­ses to en­sure the TV in­dus­try was ac­ces­si­ble to all.

“When Alex came on the course we could see straight away that he was more than ca­pa­ble of work­ing on TV set and do­ing any job,” she said.

“He has shown there are no bar­ri­ers to be­ing cre­ative and the Ticbox cour­ses are tai­lored to a cre­ative brain. I’m so happy for Alex – we will cer­tainly be putting him for­ward for other TV shows and I have no doubt he will be a huge suc­cess.”

Alex with Bessie Wil­liams, cre­ator of the Ticbox cour­ses and owner of NE1 4.TV

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