top of page

Articles to Inspire Your Personal Growth and Success

Hi I'm Emily Maguire

I'm a UK career coach and business coach for individuals in the creative and entertainment industries and passionate about helping people achieve their career goals. I'm also a top voice on LinkedIn for the Film Industry and a podcast producer and host.

  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
Emily Maguire UK Career Coach and Business Coach for the arts, creative and entertainment industry

From Nottingham to Hollywood: Interview With Actor Rachel Grant

Updated: May 19

Episode 1 of the podcast Inside Entertainment Industry Careers features Actor Rachel Grant. Discover the captivating journey of Nottingham-born Actor Rachel Grant, from her early arts exposure to her iconic role in James Bond, and learn valuable insights for aspiring actors.

Unlocking Success: Actor Rachel Grant's Career Journey 1

Rachel discusses her love for performing and how it brings her happiness. She shares her early experiences watching movies and performing in dance shows, which sparked her passion for the arts. She talks about her journey from Nottingham to London, attending performing arts school and auditioning for various roles. She also mentions her role in the James Bond film Die Another Day and her upcoming event, where she will wear the iconic dress from the movie.


Rachel also shares valuable insights and tips for actors, including the importance of enjoying the audition process and learning from every experience. She also emphasises the importance of training and working with other actors to develop skills and highlights the value of having other talents and skills that can complement acting and open up more opportunities. These include being proactive and having a side hustle to support themselves during periods of rest. Lastly, Rachel reminds actors to focus on the love of acting rather than the desire for fame.



Childhood Inspiration and Early Performance Experiences


Emily:

I'd love to know if you always knew that you wanted to be an actress.

 

Rachel:

Oh yes. 100% since I was age four or five, I went to the movie theatre as we did back then. Everybody would gather together every week. But the first movie I ever watched was ET. And gosh, I loved it. I just couldn't believe this alien and all the fantasy that went around it and the make-believe.


I was lucky enough because I did speech and drama as a little girl, and we danced. We went to a wonderful dance school, and we put on shows every single year, like huge theatrical shows for a week. I loved the different feelings and emotions that went through my body and vibrated through to my toes and fingertips as a performer, whether it would be expressing myself through voice and through acting or through the emotion going through my body through dance movement or singing that feeling and expressing myself through my body was just a wonderful feeling. And I still love it today.


Oh, talking about it now, if you were to see me now, I've got my arms going up in the air, and my legs are being lifted off the floor. I'm about to elevate. And that's what performance and acting do. It elevates me to this level where I feel closer to my, I suppose my creator; I'm elevated as a human being, and it makes me so happy. And for me, making other people happy through performing is wonderful.

 

Emily:

It sounds like such a magical experience. I love theatre. I love the energy and how it transports the audience into another kind of world for that moment.

 

Rachel:

Being in front of the camera, you don't have that live performance that you have on stage. You know, you can do it again and again, and you can keep reliving those moments and find other ways to express that moment and that feeling in a variety of ways. And I love that. Theatre's different. And when a director or a casting director says, say it in another way, or what if you're feeling this on this take and you have to do it in another way, it's just, it's lovely to work that, those muscles, those feelings.

 

Drama School and Nottingham's Influence on the Arts


Emily:

It sounds like a playground. I love that. So, did you always know you were going to go the drama school route? How did you come to that conclusion?

 

Rachel:

Yes, I suppose I did because I grew up in Nottingham and had a wonderful childhood. We were really exposed to the arts in Nottingham because we have all sorts of arts going on in the theatre and movie theatres. You know that Nottingham had so many great arts, musicals, and orchestras. And I'm very grateful to Nottingham because it was one of the best cities in which to grow up with the arts. We attended a wonderful dance school. It's called the Morrison School of Dancing, and we did competitions, and we travelled all over England.

 

We went to Scunthorpe Tamworth festivals, and we would dance so many things. We would sing and dance. We'd do character dance and national dance. I'm so grateful to Nottingham. I really am. And Miss Morrison, who is this wonderful teacher of performance, also taught deaf people and blind people how to perform on stage. She really was amazing. And she taught until she was 97.

 

Emily:

Wow. Gosh, that's a long career.

 

Rachel:

She began in Nottingham when she was 13. I'm happy to say I managed to nominate her for an MBE. In 2012, she and I went to Buckingham Palace, where we met the queen. She got her MBE, and she passed away in 2017, I think. She was still teaching the week she passed away. But I was exposed to so much theatrics growing up, especially live theatre.

 

Emily:

Oh, that's so lovely to do that.


London Studio Centre and Gratefulness to Nottingham

 

Rachel:

I wanted to go on to a performing arts school or an acting school. I had this dream of going to RADA, Lamda or Guildhall, and I wanted to go away when I was 13, and I really wanted to go to Italia Conti. I asked my mum if I could go and I wasn't allowed. She instead sent me to a summer school at Italia Conti, where we did drama and we did these plays. And it was wonderful.

 

Emily:

It sounds like you were immersed in a range of different experiences and different types.

 

Rachel:

Yes, yes. Eventually, my sister and I moved to London. I'm the middle of three performing sisters, and my older sister, who's now a ballet teacher, always expressed herself through dance. I loved to express myself through voice, whether it was singing or acting. So we went to the same performing arts school, the London Studio Centre, when I was 16, and she was 18.

 

My mum sent us to this school for a couple of reasons. We could both do it together because they had a very good ballet and acting programme. We would live together and go to school together. But the good thing about Nottingham is that it has such wonderful support for the arts.

 

Emily:

How so?

 

Rachel:

My sister and I had grants to go to this school, and we were from the same family. Nottingham paid for our tuition, and we actually received a check every month, every term. That paid for our accommodation and gave us a little bit to live off. It was enough—it wasn't a lot, but it was enough. And I'm actually grateful it wasn't too much because it really taught me how to save my pennies.

 

Emily:

That's so lovely, isn't it to have that support?

 

Rachel:

I'm really grateful for that, and the London Studio Centre had us auditioning; I think the week I arrived, I was auditioning for productions and commercials straight away. And for half the time I was there, I was working. I got my equity card by the time I was 17 and sang on stage performances when I was 18. I had just turned 18, and it was great; I couldn't believe it; it really brought my confidence up that I could perform on such a professional level with actors because, obviously, in pantomime, they bring in actors from TV.

 

Emily:

It's amazing, isn't it? To go to drama school and then be straight out into the industry, proactively working and doing auditions.

 

Rachel:

It was really quick. I remember my first audition when I was 16, and I couldn't believe it.

I still can't believe it to this day, Coca-Cola. I was auditioning for a Coca-Cola commercial, and they wanted dancers as performers. I had no idea how I should dress for a Coca-Cola commercial. I think it was like Michael Jackson or something that was promoting Coca-Cola. And I remember going in my tracksuit bottoms.

 

Emily:

Coca-Cola commercials were so big back then.

 

Rachel:

I know. That's what I thought I had to wear. I had no coach; no one was telling me what to wear. And when I got there, everybody was dressed in amazing clothes. In fact, some girls had full-on glitter outfits. And I sat there thinking, oh dear. But I went in, I didn't get the job, but you know, you live and you learn.


Learning from Auditions and Mistakes

 

Emily:

Do you find that when you were starting out doing those auditions, even if you didn't get the job, that experience helped you grow to go on to the next one and book the role?

 

Rachel:

Oh gosh, yes, and in fact, they say that for every 100 auditions, you get one job. That's the average. So think about that. Every job that you go for is part of your training, whether it's a commercial, a play, an audition, that preparation that you do as an actor, getting into the role, from the shoes that you wear to doing your hair and putting on the right outfit and making sure that you're feeling the part. You're looking the part for them and for yourself. So it's all part of the process.

 

Emily:

So true.

 

Rachel:

And even if you don't get the job or the next one you are building, you're learning how to build a character. And, you know, I just learned to enjoy auditioning in the end, even if it wasn't for me, the role, or I didn't get the role, because in the end, you are gonna get something, and it is all part of the process. You also get to see another casting director or get to meet another director and producer, and you connect.

 

That's what it's about. It's meeting and networking with as many people as possible. You are getting your face out there. You're a flyer. The more people that get to see you and remember you, the better. And you never know when they might book you or remember you for next time, or not remember you, but it doesn't matter. You've got that experience, and you've learned from it. And yes, and that's important.


Favourite Roles and Reliving James Bond

 

Emily:

That's all so true. You see every moment and experience as personal growth and something that will help you achieve the overall goal.

 

So, what's been your most favourite role so far? I know that some people might instantly think of a particular role, James Bond, but what has been your favourite role so far in your career?

 

Rachel:

In terms of a role. I probably wouldn't pick that as my favourite role. But it has been a lifelong role. It really, really has. I'll tell you something: I'm so excited. Yesterday, well, in the last week, I managed to find the exact dress. It's not the original dress I wore in Die Another Day. It was a Shanghai Tang. It's a very expensive designer dress, silk Shanghai Tang. And it cost 1,400 pounds from Regent Street. Lindy Heming, who was the costume lady on Die Another Day, bought this dress, and she fitted it on me to fit me perfectly. That dress is hidden away in the 007 vault.

 

I just purchased an exact copy of that dress from a Seattle thrift store. I'm wearing it for an official 007 Bond event in April in Washington, DC, at the Spy Museum. The event will feature original cars and props from Die Another Day and other Bond movies.


Emily: 

Wow. So we've got an exclusive!


Rachel:

Yes! So, in terms of what my favourite role is, I wouldn't say Peaceful Fountains of Desire from James Bond is my favourite role. But it is a lifelong favourite of mine. And I think in 20 years, it will still be the most memorable role for me because I'm still reliving it. So, for me, that's wonderful, and people love it.


Oh gosh, now I feel it should be my favourite role. I had one role I did for two years for the sci-fi channel Sci-Fi UK, and it was a role called Nina, and it became their most popular slot. It was the Friday night strand for horror movies. I would act, but I was presenting two Friday night shows, films, and movies presenting them, but I would do a skit, and I would act. And I was left to my own devices.


The production allowed me to be very free with the role, and it's not often that you get that opportunity. I've always loved horror films. So it was; the genre was horror, and it was comedy, too. So, for me, that was a real favourite of mine. That role, Nina, on the Sci-Fi channel for Sci-Fright. But the most memorable and lifelong role that I'm always going to be living is James Bond, of course. Of course, Mr Bond.

 

Emily:

Having that creative freedom is so good, isn't it?

 

Best Piece of Acting Advice


Emily:

As you've progressed through your career, what's the best piece of acting advice that you've ever received that's stuck with you?

 

Rachel:

I remember a few times casting directors or people auditioning me would say, just enjoy it, do it again, and just relax and enjoy it. And I often used to think, what are they saying? Enjoy it, of course, I'm enjoying it. But it made me realize that I wanted the job so much that it was showing through. And I suddenly understood what they were trying to explain.


I just need to relax. It's not a job. I should just enjoy being this character. Sometimes, when you want the job so much, that gets in the way. So I remember the times I didn't maybe try so hard to get the job, and I was more relaxed, and I just enjoyed being in that moment and enjoyed the performance and enjoyed creating that character, and that was when it worked best, and I would a would book roles more often than not. So I think that's one of the best tips that I would often get told.

 

Emily:

It's difficult, isn't it? Auditioning as an actor is very much a personal experience, and that means you can sometimes place extra pressure on yourself.

 

Rachel:

Yes, you want something so much and love it so much. But if you can just let go of the role, then you won't be hurt so much if you don't get it. I also think you can just give a better performance when you're not so attached and want it so much. Another thing is to try to remember lines as much as possible to be off a book. I know they say it doesn't always matter, but it is better, I feel, to be off-book.


Emily:

I agree. It allows you to kind of play with the role a little bit more without focusing.

 

Rachel:

Also, don't be afraid to make a mistake. If something goes wrong or you forget a line, if you can show that you can cover it up and recover from it very well, that shows your level of professionalism and experience. So it's okay to make a mistake.


The Role of Training and Talent in Acting


Emily:

So, do you believe that training has helped you become stronger as an actor, or do you think it's more down to talent or a mixture of both when it comes to acting?

 

Rachel:

Both are very important. It is important to have good talent and to love what you do. But there are so many successful actors out there who really didn't have much talent when they started out.

 

I used to love watching Arnold Schwarzenegger in his movies. He was the biggest action hero ever. And was he the world's most talented actor at the start? No. But I used to love watching him; I loved his movies. And he's very successful. And there are so many actors like him too. I remember working with Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was a very talented martial artist and who started as a ballet dancer. He was very limited in his acting abilities at the start, but he was very successful in movies and has a huge following.

 

Emily:

So perhaps it's the training onset then, like you're saying, it's getting that experience and actively training while in action.

 

Rachel:

Yes. Training is always recommended, and Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger have had acting classes, and many of them. It is so important to have training and to work with other actors to gain experience. Training also comes from all the many auditions you can have and the role preparation that you do.


How does that character walk? Sit down and people-watch. Who are you being? Who are you portraying? There are so many ways you can learn, train, and develop your skills as an actor in endless amounts. It might cost money, but it can also be free. You can find it online. You can watch YouTube.

 

Emily:

People watching. I love that. As you say, it's getting that onset experience, working with actors, and with that, you grow more. You do the auditions, and the more you do the work, the more training supports that growth as well.


Utilise Different Skillsets

 

Rachel:

That's right. If you're an actor, you have other skills, I'm sure. Everybody has skills. You're all good at something, whether it's playing football or doing martial arts. I remember one of the first TV jobs I booked was as a martial artist. And I've worked in martial arts movies.


If you can play football, you never know. I remember when they were auditioning girls with football skills for the movie Bend It Like Beckham. You never know what job you might book because of your extra skillsets. You might just have other talents that can lend themselves well to a role or something else.


Changes in Approaching Acting Roles

 

Emily:

It's a complete playground for actors, isn't it? So, do you think your approach to acting roles has changed over the years?

 

Rachel:

Oh gosh, in every aspect possible, I remember having to edit my acting reel. Now, I can edit acting reels on my phone and with my fingertips. I'd have to pay someone. I'd have to save up, literally save up money, and pay someone, sit with them in an editing room, and pay them to edit my reel. And then I'd get the DVD that he gave me, and I'd copy it, pay someone to copy them.

 

Then I'd go to the post office, put them in envelopes, stamp them, and send them off to various casting directors or production people. And that process took how many days? I don't know. It took a while. And then I could only send off maybe 20 at a time. Nowadays, we can just press buttons, and people get them in seconds.

 

I also remember when I was a little girl, there were only five channels on British TV, and now there are so many outlets and channels.

 

Emily:

Hundreds of channels now.

 

Rachel:

I can't even count them anymore, and now we have apps, and people are acting on TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. People are getting booked off on how many followers they have. So it has really, really changed. So, the approach to acting has changed considerably.

 

There are ways we can put ourselves out there that weren't available back then. I feel there are more people doing this now, and there are more things being thrown at us, but then there are also more channels and avenues that need actors and people. So that's changed considerably.

 

Emily:

It's very much a theme of the playground coming through while we're talking. Play from when you were younger, actually playing in the roles, to so much more media to play with. There are so many acting opportunities available out there, and it's knowing exactly what to focus on, really, isn't it?

 

Rachel:

That's right, there's exactly that. You have so many avenues. What do you focus on? And as an actor, you're creative, right? So, you should be creative in many ways to put yourself out there. You might be able to create a new idea or do something new. It might just catch somebody's attention, so you never know. There are so many shows now that are created off the back of what somebody's uploaded to social media.


Having a Side Hustle as an Actor

 

Emily:

So, for my last question before you go, what's a piece of wisdom that you can share with our listeners who are starting out in their acting careers? What advice would you have for them?

 

Rachel:

Well, as an actor, you are going to be resting most of the time instead of working. Now, obviously, you might get a great gig on a TV show, and you might have a few weeks or months or even years of work, but after that's ended and it does, you know, you will be out of work, and you have to start again and look for another job and another job. So it's this continually looking for new gigs and new work. And now that can be really exciting. I thrive off that, like a new role or a new project.

 

We've picked a career that is ever-changing, and it's really wonderful. But I would say this: don't wait for that phone to ring or for that email to come through. Don't rely on your agent or someone else to get you a job. They can put feelers out there for you, but you have to be active yourself. You have to have a side hustle or something going along, or you have something to fall back on. You know, we need money to live and pay for bills.

 

So, if you can create something for yourself that compliments your acting, that's wonderful. You know, I know there are so many examples I could give. I know someone in New York who was an actor, and he just couldn't stand waiting for his agent to call anymore. He created a one-man show and went around schools. He's working with children now, and he's still able to audition on the side. He's his own boss, and he loves what he's doing. It's fantastic.


I know someone in LA, a British guy who started an app for actors with friends. He was always hustling. I've known him for years. We'd hang out in Los Angeles, and we were both people trying to get work. And he was always hustling, always had a side gig, always doing something to complement his acting. So you should always have something else.

 

You have a voice, and you know how to present yourself. You know how to put yourself together and how to be on camera. You can have a side hustle and do all the auditions and other bits at the same time. You know, actors are talented. So why should we sit down and not use our talents?


I do very well with my side hustles, and they're all very much part of who I am: using my voice, using my skills, my creative skills, and editing. I feel very fortunate. You can find something that works for you. It really can happen. I've seen actors make it work in amazing ways.


Emily:

I think it's nice because having that side hustle takes the pressure off the roles that you're applying for, as well. There's not quite as much pressure on you in terms of I've got to get this job because it's got to pay my rent. You've got that side hustle so that you can enjoy the process.

 

Rachel:

I just wanted to mention one other thing because it's quite a big part of it. And I know I might've had moments of feeling this, too, and other people I've worked with, I know they feel this.


Not Focusing on Fame

 

Rachel:

You can't be in this to be famous. It's just such an unhealthy thing to want to be famous. I'm doing this because I want to be famous. I need to be famous. It's really not about that. That's not what being happy is about or being an actor is about. It really isn't. It's so just to remember that that should not be at the forefront of your mind; that shouldn't be your aim. So you have to be in it for the right reasons.

 

Emily:

That's a lovely note to finish on. Thank you ever so much, Rachel. That's been a wonderful conversation.


Short Biography:

Rachel Grant is most famously known for her role as ‘Peaceful Fountains of Desire’, James Bond’s would-be assassin in ‘Die Another Day’, opposite Pierce Brosnan. Born in the Philippines, Rachel Grant (de Longueuil) is a British actress, TV presenter/host, travel expert, videographer, and entrepreneur based in New York.


Rachel's film credits also include roles alongside Jean Claude Van Damme and Stephen Rea in "Until Death", "The Tournament" with Robert Carlyle and "The Purifiers" with Dominic Monaghan. She began her television career with a role on the popular UK soap "Emmerdale" and later became SyFy UK's most-watched TV slot as horror hostess Nina in Friday night's Sci-fright. Additionally, she portrayed Professor Myang Li in Sky One's popular show "Brainiac: Science Abuse" and showcased her martial arts skills as the nunchaku twirling master Kali in the BBC TV show Masters Of Combat. She also served as a body double for Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider.


Listen to the full podcast episode:


Learn More About How to Become an Actor:


Inspired by this career story?

Wherever you’re listening, subscribe to Inside Entertainment Industry Careers on Apple iTunes here.


The podcast is also on Spotify and all major podcast platforms.


Share on social media with the hashtag #insideentertainmentindustrycareers or follow us on Instagram @InsideEntertainmentPodcast


Want to know more about Rachel Grant?

You can find out more about Rachel on her website.


Or view Rachel's film credits on IMDB.


IG: @missrachelgrant

X: @missrachelgrant

0 comments

Comments


bottom of page