Hollywood calling: British actress Rachel Warren on mega success, new releases, and the tough road to the top

Hollywood calling: British actress Rachel Warren on mega success, new releases, and the tough road to the top

Hollywood calling: British actress Rachel Warren on mega success, new releases, and the tough road to the top

THEY say the course of true love never did run smooth, and as it turns out the course of mega-successful careers isn’t that different either.

Despite its glamorous exterior, acting is one of the notoriously harshest of careers to make a name in, with a remarkable only 2 per cent of actors ever even making a living.

For those who do tread that path though- undeterred by the knockbacks, the low pay and the often far-from-glamorous hours- the payoff can often be something quite extraordinary.

British actress Rachel Warren is an example of just how impressive those payoffs can be.

Now 38 and about to star in not only a new Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde remake alongside Love Island star Jake Cornish and Eastenders’ Adam Astill but also her own series, the actress and producer sat down with the Euro Weekly News to talk US success, the importance of backing yourself, and the long road to the top.

Originally from Buckinghamshire, Rachel told the EWN acting has been practically a lifelong passion: “At 5 I pointed at the TV screen and I said ‘mummy that’ and I knew that’s what I wanted to do in life.”

It turns out that even when it comes to the first steps, acting is a tough business.

“In my first ever school play I wanted to be Cinderella but I got cast as the king.  Instead of sulking though I thought, ‘I’m going to be the best king I can be.’ And I made sure I was so tall and proud and kinglike.”

That early lesson in rejection and resilience paid off: “After that the school did Alice in Wonderland and I was cast as Alice. I got to sing two songs and that confirmed that acting was for me.”

When it came to pursuing acting full time though, Rachel explained the path ahead wasn’t an obvious one.

“None of my family are in the industry and my parents really wanted me to have an education rather than going straight into acting.

“I compromised and I told them I would get an acting degree, which I ended up doing in London.”

Post-university, the lessons in adversity didn’t end.  Rachel quickly found just how fickle- and occasionally even dangerous- the industry could be, at one point almost giving it all up to become an estate agent.

“After drama school I landed a couple of episodes in an ITV drama The Royal.

“Even then though, my twenties were possibly the most painful part of my life.  After drama school you don’t get any support and the amount of rejection you get is huge.

“Because I didn’t have any other support, I had to learn the hard way that rejection is ok.

“But there were a lot of ‘Me Too’ situations and I was even once threatened that I would be blacklisted from the industry if I didn’t give in to one producer.”

At one point things took a particularly dark turn when Rachel even had to take out a restraining order against someone else in the industry.

Those experiences, which would have (understandably) seen a lot of aspiring actors run for the hills, saw Rachel do the opposite, working out how to create her own way within a sometimes brutal profession.

The result was RWI Creative, her own film and TV poster design company, which allowed her to stay within the industry on her own terms while paying the bills and still having time to audition for acting parts.

And as is often the case in life, all it takes is one break to set into motion a series of events that change everything.

Rachel told the EWN her big break came with the hugely successful Rise of the Footsoldier franchise.

“It was all down to Andrew Loveday (the franchise’s writer and producer). I went to the premiere of Rise of the Footsoldier and he said he wanted me to audition for a part in the next film.  True to his word, he messaged me a year later and invited me to audition for the lead.”

Throwing herself into the opportunity Rachel prepped hard for the audition.

“The character in Footsoldier is very different to who I am as a person but I watched every film, continually pausing to get the accents and making notes on the clothes to get the same look.

“After watching me audition, Andy and Nick Nevern (the film’s director) said no one else could play the part.  It was those guys that put me on the map.”

From there, as Rachel explains, everything else fell into place.  She has since starred in The Last Heist alongside Terry Stone and has just shot multiple films, including Dragged Up Dirty- due for release in 2024- alongside Donna Taylor, Nick Moran, Michelle Ryan, Peter Andre, and Junior Andre.

Alongside acting, Rachel has also expanded her RWI brand with RWI films, her own production company which is currently responsible for a slate of films alongside Helen Alexis Yonov of Hansen Women Productions.

Developing highly commercial content for TV and film, and producing projects which are diverse and inclusive with a strong focus on equality, RWI Films looks set to become a big name in production.  Speaking about working with Helen, Rachel said: “Our UK/US collaboration is built on mutual respect and trust which stems from a similar love for film which combines our values with a desire to create beautiful, cinematic stories that highlight the strength of humanity.

“By bringing different cultures and voices to our work, we aim to create a depth that speaks to a multi-cultural array of people and their unique differing experiences in this cinematic format internationally.”

Also speaking about her latest filming project, Dragged Up Dirty, Rachel said: “I had the most fun- it was a set of cuddles and kindness.

“That was all thanks to Donna Taylor, an actress and producer on the film.  She is the kindest, most honourable woman I can say I’ve ever worked with.”

With multiple films under her belt, and often no longer having to audition for roles, Rachel’s star is now rising even higher with a seriously exciting new project in the works; a high-concept comedy series that she describes as a “mixture between Fleabag and Bridget Jones”.

The as-yet-untitled show, written alongside Netflix writer and best friend Sameera Steward (one of the brains behind the massive hit Get Even), is now in the process of being pitched to major companies in the US and UK alike.

Rachel explained: “Sameera and I’ve been best friends for 18 years. From our early 20s, she was my rock.

“One day we started laughing about our misfortunes while we were both trying to make it in the early days- it was a battle for her too- and we started writing it down.

“We initially made it into a film and actually won an award for it, but then we got advice that it would make a good TV show, which is more exposure than a one-off film.

“We sent it to our manager in America and as soon as we knew they wanted to run with it it was easy to come up with the ideas for the rest of the series.”

The series now looks set for serious success: “It’s currently being pitched out in both US and UK.

“I’m so excited. I’m going to have a lot of fun with the character we’ve developed for me.”

Not content with simply reaping the rewards of her own hard work though, Rachel explained she now wants to help other actors, particularly in dealing with some of her industry’s darker sides.

“I wanted to open doors for myself and now for others.

“That is one of the things I am fiercely passionate about; erasing manipulation and gaslighting in the industry and bringing up new and young filmmakers in a safe environment and working with some of the big beasts in the industry.

“I was in the industry before Harvey Weinstein’s crimes came to light and I’ve definitely seen a shift since then.  There’s still a long way to go though.”

She added: “It would be amazing if there was some sort of policing of this in the industry.  Other big companies have an HR department but with acting you have nothing- there is no HR.  There are unions but they can only do so much.

“I would love to someday have some influence in policing for the film industry to prevent abuse.”

The actress also has words of wisdom for others going into the industry.

She explained: “It’s all about backing yourself, having your core team and avoiding people who drain your energy.

“In your 20s you’re still so young and there’s a huge amount to learn.  I fought my way in to begin with. I was like a sponge around anyone I met in the industry, listening to everything they said and ultimately setting myself up for failure.

“But actually you need to be careful about the people you implement advice from.  As much as you believe they are there to help you, there are just speaking from their own experience most of the time and aren’t necessarily thinking about you.”

As well as not taking advice from all quarters, Rachel explains a large part of the battle is simply about not giving up.

“It’s 100 per cent about resilience.  I’ve been knocked back or been in a dark way more times than been given opportunities or felt like I’ve been on track.

“You get knocked down, but you have to brush yourself off. You have some time to heal and you go again.  The moment you stop going back in there you will end up resenting yourself.”

She adds: “Exhaust every option until you know you’re not going to say, ‘what if?’ going back.”

Ultimately, the rewards speak for themselves: “There’s no other industry I feel comfortable working in. I’ve made some of my lifelong friends and I’ve had some of the best, craziest experiences of my life because of this industry.”

Rachel’s latest film Ripper’s Revenge, following a journalist who covers the famous murderer’s crimes before finding himself the target of a series of letters from Jack the Ripper, is out now.

Rachel is also delighted to announce that she is working with a new sophisticated premium vodka brand called NE10. Contact her via her Instagram @rachelwarrenofficial for details on how to purchase a single bottle, or wholesale for your bar, restaurant or hotel.

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