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Upfront: Natalie Britton on life in LA, racism and motherhood

 

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Natalie Britton

Natalie Britton

Natalie Britton

Natalie Britton is a Dublin-born actress, who trained in London and spent the past 10 years working in LA. Her latest short film, A Piece of Cake, was longlisted for the Oscars. Last summer, she came home with her family for a visit and now they have decided to stay. She is married to an actor /teacher and they have a three-year-old son, Oakley.

What were you like as a girl growing up in Blackrock, Co Dublin?

I was always very active. I did athletics and that morphed into basketball in secondary school. I loved the team aspect of it and in a way, it was the making of me.

What drives you?

After doing a business degree in DCU, I realised that I didn't want to sit in an office, so I studied drama in London instead. I've focused on acting ever since. I love creating work. I started my own production company to get a sense of control because you don't get it as an actor.

What is it like to be an actress in LA?

LA is very tough. People in my position are constantly fighting the romanticised notion of the acting life there. Some famous established actors might have that life but for most it's very difficult. I went on my own and I didn't know anyone. The city is driven by the industry and it's a fickle one. You can get lost in it, so you have to have a good sense of yourself. There are some lovely people there but it takes a while to find them. You learn very quickly to keep your mouth shut. Irish people look out for each other but in LA, everything and everyone is an opportunity. You have to keep your wits about you.

Tell us about your first Hollywood audition

In LA, they see everyone for auditions. You're given more opportunities but it's very overwhelming. When I turned up for my very first audition for Scream 4, there were 70 actresses there.

Choose three words that describe you

Thoughtful, driven and tenacious.

Has motherhood changed you?

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It's not about you. Because my time is limited, I think I've ended up making better quality decisions. I say no a lot more. Motherhood has grounded me and I've chilled out a lot more.

Are you a glass half-full person?

Yes, now I am. Life teaches you and you change. Life feels fuller now than it ever did before, yet not much has changed on paper.

Tell us about your new short film, A Piece of Cake.

It's about parents and promises and how a father takes his life into his own hands to keep his promise to his young daughter. My role was written as an American mom but I got to use my Irish accent which is a rare occurrence in Hollywood and I loved it.

What are you watching?

Lupin. I love foreign stuff.

How did Covid-19 affect you?

2020 was a hard year. We started it with a pregnancy loss which was tough, and then in March, Covid-19 kicked in. I'd been working on a TV show and that wrapped the week everything shut down. Then three days after my father-in-law was diagnosed with Covid-19, he died. My husband is African-American and after all the Black Lives Matter marches in LA, everything became heightened. He experienced more racism than ever before. He was out with our son and racial slurs were shouted at them. Last summer, we booked a flight for Dublin and now we've decided to stay for good. It's so lovely to be home.

Best advice you ever got?

My grandmother always told me to take an opportunity.

Best advice you give?

Give yourself permission

Who is your role model?

My mother. She raised me and my brother on her own, and she ran her own business - a tourism company. As a parent, I'm in continued awe of how she did that.

What do you do for laughs?

My husband makes me laugh a lot. He's the complete opposite of me. He's very calm and chilled but we share the same morals and ethics, so that's why it works. And now that our son is three, he's very entertaining.


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