Harry Bradshaw may be a fresh face to many, perhaps you may recognise him from his latest role as a transgender character in a popular British teen soap. Despite being fairly new to the scene, Harry has begun to establish himself as a great award-winning UK talent, showcased both on the big and smaller screen. This week we were pleased to catch a few words with the young star...
You recently featured in Hollyoaks (Channel 4 soap), playing a transgender character named Tamara who was in a ‘gender disorder clinic’. How did you prepare for such a role?
As an actor, preparation is a key. No matter how big or small the part, the more you know about your character, the greater control you have in a performance. Therefore to be given a character like Tamara, in a platform like Hollyoaks, I knew it was fundamental for me to understand the world of the transgender community, and give a truthful portrayal. The way I work is more intellectual based with preparation. I tend not to meet people that are similar to characters I play otherwise I end up always thinking, “ how did so and so sit?” or “how did this person react?”. My main research for my character was based around forums and blogs by people writing about their transgender experiences. I came across so much, from people who are hiding their true gender, to people that are open and living the life as their true self. This is where the true stories are expressed, and you get to understand their real emotions. It was like reading peoples personal diaries and a real way of understand people’s way of life.
Tamara (and Jason, whom your character met in the Hollyoaks storyline) is the first transgender character we have seen on our TV screens in a long time. Why do you think this is?
To be truthful, I don’t think it is completely accepted in our community, which is really unfortunate. If the “issue” was accessible more on our televisions and the media, then we would see more transgender characters around. It’s great the soaps like Hollyoaks have main recurring gay and lesbian characters, as it shows the portrayal of real life. The next step for the industry is to portray these characters out of their stereotype, which I think Hollyoaks is brilliant at doing. For instance, you don’t have to be camp to be gay, you don’t have to be butch to be lesbian, and for my character Tamara, you don’t have to put on a facade to be male to female transgender. LGBT societies come in all shapes and forms, and I think the industry is getting there, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
You have had esteemed roles Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Beautiful Thing’, in Prince Gomolvilas’ UK drama ‘Mysterious Skin’, and in the short named Hope, where you achieved an Accolade Film Festival award (2009). All of these, you played roles that were sexually charged and contain important messages for the LGBT community. Which of these do you think are most important?
I think they are all important in their own right. Each role and each piece has a different message. Of course ‘Beautiful Thing’ was huge in the 90’s when it first previewed. It captures the innocence of youth and exploration. I remember watching it with my friends when I was in my teens thinking, Jamie is me. This is practically my life, in a film. It’s a piece that makes young teens feel they are not alone. The play is so well written, I feel that it brings out some kind of emotion whether you’re gay or straight. ‘Mysterious Skin’ and ‘Hope’ are less about exploration of sexuality, but more about how the exploration of sex helps to bring a conclusion, so are less likely to be important to LGBT communities.
Despite being from down South, in Essex, have you seen much of Manchester and our Pride events?
I’ve been to Manchester a few times in the past, but haven’t been in a good few years. I don’t know whether born and bred Manchester folk agree with me, but it feels like an extension of London. It is lively, the place never seems to stop and it’s full of culture. I also understand your Pride events are as lively as London too. I’m hoping to head up to this year’s Manchester Pride. It’ll be my first time so you’ll have to all show me around.
It’s fantastic to talk to someone who is representing British acting in both television and film, and coincides well with our ‘Best of British’ theme for Pride 2011’s Big Parade. For you, what makes us such a culturally relevant country?
Capturing the British element is something to be proud of too. I’m not entirely sure what makes us culturally relevant, but I have to say I have a soft spot for the monarchy. What is there not to like? It is what fundamentally defines Britain. Having recently been in America, people would always be commenting on the Queen. I think we should take more pride in it.
Finally, what has 2011 got in-store for Harry Bradshaw?
All sorts of things. Work wise, there are a few projects possibly lined up, but nothing announced as yet. All updates are posted on my website when confirmed. In other areas of my life, I am teaching acting more, and hopefully passing on my wisdom to aspiring actors. And sticking to my new year’s resolution, I am being more proactive with my political side. Along with acting, politics is a big thing for me, and I am pursuing this as much as I can. You never know, you may see me at Manchester Pride on a certain LGBT stand.