You need to be adaptable and versatile: Hayley-Marie Axe

  1. What do you do for a living?

I’m a fulltime Actor and Voice Over Artist.

  1. How would you describe what you do?

I’m a character actor so I’m a chameleon, I go from job to job playing different characters, and get paid to do what I love. To expand on that, of course all actors play different characters, however some regularly play characters that are very close to themselves, I play a wide range of varying characters, and do a lot of voice work using different accents too.

  1. What does your work entail?

My work as an actor essentially entails preparing for a role, to tell a story, so whether I’ve booked the job or it’s my first meeting for the role, I do my research – I like to treat each audition as if it’s a first rehearsal, so I prepare for the role as if I’ve got the job already. I research the team I’m meeting, the style of their previous work, the style of the project I’m going in for; when and where it is set, what’s the ordinary world for the characters and what’s my place within that, is it naturalistic or heightened reality, who do the audience need to empathise/sympathise with etc. Then there’s my personal character research, which is my favourite thing about what I do so I’ll expand in question 6.

  1. What is a typical work week like?

Every day brings something new, no two weeks are the same so life never gets boring, however being an actor isn’t all glamour, a lot or most of my time is spent doing admin; audition prep, research, learnings lines, castings, self-tapes, networking, being a sleuth, meetings, taxes, emails, travelling and more travelling (lots of travel) to and from auditions/jobs/meetings/events. Then some of my time is spent doing the bit I actually love, the acting.

  1. How did you get started?

I’ve been acting as long as I can remember, my grandmother used to ride me to dance classes in a basket on the back of her bike as a tiny tot and I used to get all the kids from street in my back garden to put on shows for our parents.

  1. What do you like about what you do?

I love that there’s always a new challenge and that every day is different, I love telling stories and entertaining people but I also love the amount of learning that I do, some of the subjects I’ve ended up researching for a role are things that I would never have even thought about if I wasn’t an actor, for example, my upcoming role in Vice Squad: NYC, I am currently researching vice squad cases and finding some very intriguing cases. I just played Schwester Klara in the feature film The Angel of Auschwitz, my character was based on a real person, a midwife in Auschwitz Birkenau that murdered new born babies, I won’t go into detail because people will find it upsetting, well I certainly did, but my knowledge and understanding of the concentration camps has increased massively because of that film project, so I’ve grown as a person and am always learning through my work.

  1. What do you dislike?

I dislike the fact that actors most of the time are not acting, so much time has to be spent networking and doing the boring admin stuff, and the industry is still all about who you know or how many social media followers you have and that there a so many good actos out there that don’t get a break or the opportunity to be seen by casting director etc. There’s a lot of wasted talent because the industry is so set in its ways.

  1. What skills are needed to do your job?

You need to be adaptable and versatile and open to change, jobs change, dates change, the director wants it a different way, so you have to be able to just get on with it with a smile on your face and be easy to work with, obviously you need talent but to me that’s natural, you’ve either got it or you haven’t.  

The specific skills and tools of the trade can be learnt; analysing the text, detective work  – finding the clues in the text to find your character, learning lines quickly, voice work, diction, accents, emotional connection, hitting your mark, tenacity, growing a thick skin, determination. 

  1. What is the most challenging about what you do?

Keeping a positive mindset when you go through dry spells of work, I’ve been a jobbing actor for fifteen years, right now things are good, I’ve got lots of work but that can change in an instant, so keeping that self belief at all times is vital but can be a challenge.

  1. What is the most rewarding?

Booking the job and then doing the job, the acting itself, becoming a character has always been my hook.

  1. What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

That it’s not easy and that it’s very very rare for actors to have overnight success so you have to really love what you do and be happy to play the long game, if you go into the industry thinking that you’ll get your big break in year one you’ll be bitterly disappointed, unless you’re very lucky, are extremely beautiful or your parents are well connected in the industry.

  1. Do you have a talent Agent or Manager?

Yes I have an agent in the UK, Julie Fox Associates and my manager in the US is Ascendant Talent Management. 

  1. What projects do you have coming up and/or what are you currently working on? 

I’ve just completed a feature film called ‘The Angel of Auschwitz’, that will be released in early 2019,  this is the story of Stanislawa Leszczyńska, the midwife of Auschwitz, I play Schwester Klara, also a midwife, however unlike Stanislawa, Klara was part of the Kapo and did some unimaginable things.  Next year I am delighted to be playing series regular Detective Chloe Malone in Vice Squad: NYC the brand new TV franchise created by Ascendant Studios.

  1. What else would you like people to know about your career? 

That on the whole there are no over night successes, actors work very hard to get their careers off the ground, as of course do their management teams, so when an actor gets a break through role they haven’t come out of nowhere, they’ve probably been working hard for years for that moment.

  1. What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That it’s easy, it’s not. Actors put in a lot of hours and work behind the scenes. Also for every role you do get there are hundreds of others that don’t go your way for whatever reason. Also when people say “can’t you just get a job on that TV series”, it’s not that easy, that question irritates every actor, if we could we would but thanks for asking.

  1. What philanthropic or charitable organizations are you passionate about and why?

There isn’t a specific charity but any organisation that works with mental health and suicide prevention gets my support, my mum took her own life when I was ten, so this is close to my heart. Also the Alzheimer’s society, my grandmother who raised me had Alzheimer’s and I’m an animal lover, there are too many animal charities to mention but they all do a fantastic job and I support a few.

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photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe
photo: archives Hayley-Marie Axe

Text: Saif Rahman Sozib

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