Ian: Let’s talk about this. I don’t know if you watch Holby City? Do you?
(Holby City theme music plays)
Tuesday night it was on. Latest episode
And if you did watch it this week you will have seen, you might not have known it, but you did see, quite an exceptional Derby lady, making her prime-time television debut.
A deaf actor, from Mickelover, she’s called Emily Howlett. I went round to watch back the episode with her yesterday.
There you are! You look lost. Oh and he’s (Julian on screen) signing to you.
Emily: Yeah he said it was so funny (interrupted)
Ian: That’s a bit weird because they said come and talk to Emily because she’s got a speaking part, which is a big deal, but you’re signing at the moment. Does that count?
My hair caused a lot of problems. The poor lady who does hair and make-up said: “If we were doing this the other way around it would be really easy because your hair gets messier throughout the day but we’re not filming it in sequence so CAN YOU KEEP YOUR HEAD STILL PLEASE!”
Ian: What sort of acting work had you done before this?
Emily: I hadn’t done that much in the last couple of years because I had a baby. Which was, you know, took quite a lot of time,
Ian: Takes priority, yeah
Emily: Yeah, but I been doing theatre workshops and things instead but before that, I’ve actually done more theatre work, in theatre and education, and done some films for the BSLBT.
Ian: Theatre and education is going round doing schools?
Ian: So what sort of audience are they?
Emily: Or doing site specific stuff but teaching kids about, you know, the things teachers don’t want to talk about, like sex n’ drugs n’ rock and roll.
Ian: So what’s telly like?
What’s TV like?
Emily: Um. TV is completely different, event to doing film work. I mean, in film work, you get to rehearse, you get a bit longer. There’s a lot more people, but a lot less people who care about you, I think, in film, whereas in TV, it’s so fast.
My experiences before with TV work have not been as super lovely has Holby City, I have to say.
Ian: What was special about Holby then?
Emily: It was just a good team. It was a lovely atmosphere. Like I said before, I just didn’t feel different. You know, there was a lot of people there but I just felt like, I was in the middle of them all and there.
Ian: Well and truly part of it/
Even though we were communicating using interpreters, and there was a lot of decisions made on the hoof; like we need this and this and this and this to be changed, we didn’t ever feel like we were being left out of the loop or anything like that.
Ian: So clearly you auditioned for this as a deaf role?
I went into the audition, actually, the director said, so, we have already chosen the male actor for the role that you’ll be playing opposite, and that’s Julian.
And I was just, sort of, well I did some acting then. I was like YEAH, YEAH, JULIAN, I LOVE HIM.
Ian: (Watching Emily on TV) There you are, there you are!
You’ve come back with coffees
(Sound of Emily’s dialogue on the TV)
Ian: Silly question time. Why do you sound there more stereotypically profoundly deaf, or what I’d expect from somebody, than you do in real life?
Emily: Well, do you know what? I didn’t know at all.
I think it must be nerves or something.
The only thing I can think is last year I had a cochlear implant, so my voice has been improving since then because I can hear that little bit more and I didn’t have it switched on for the filming.
Ian: So, Emily Howlett at her place in Mickelover, watching back her episode of Holby City on Tuesday night, watched it with her friends and got very excited by all accounts, as she’s been an actor for quite some time and she’s deaf as you can hear.
Does that make her typecast? What sort of other work is she involved in? You can hear some more of our conversation about that a little later in the breakfast show this morning and yeah, if you saw Holby City this week, you saw her in it. Emily Howlett. Watch out for that name I suspect.
PART 2 8:20am
Ian: So earlier on you heard me talking to Emily Howlett. Emily is an actor, she’s from Mickelover in Derby, and she’s deaf as well. She was on Holby City this week. It’s her first speaking part in a prime time telly programme. She’s done theatre and things like that but there us something special about being on the box.
If you were watching Holby City on Tuesday night you would have noticed her. She was the deaf character signing, visiting her fiancée in Holby City.
I talked to her about how deafness affected her route to becoming a successful actress.
Emily: They gave me hearing aids when I was four. They were quite useful, I mean I have learned to speak and stuff because of the hearing that I got from those but It was never like good quality hearing or anything like that and then that kind of deteriorated over the years until I didn’t have anything at all and then last year I got a cochlear implant so that I could try and hear my baby, which worked and now he’s two and I’m so pleased that I had the cochlear implant so that I can hear all his tantrums.
Ian: It seems so genuine. It must be a joy though.
Emily: Oh it is…
Ian: (Interrupting Emily’s response) Compared to the alternative
Emily: When he laughs you hear him, I mean it, even if the only thing I ever heard having this cochlear implant then it’s worth it.
Ian: The day you came home and said I want to be an actor, like seriously, I want to do this professionally. I want to make a living out of acting.
For most people that’s heart sinking. Like ‘REALLY?’ That’s really hard. And the added problem of the deafness. Surely that another hurdle.
Emily: Oh yes. Oh yes.
Ian: You’ve always known that?
Emily: Yes and no. I’ve always lived with being deaf so it’s not been the issue to me as it is to people looking in because it’s just the way it is.
Ian: It’s the other people that are the problem isn’t it. It’s the other people who are going to watch you, cast you, going to work with you.
Emily: Yes! They are the problem! Other people are always the problem. This is always the way. I mean, if you don’t mind if I get a little political right now? Is that ok?
Ian: Go for it
Emily: The thing is, there is a certain procedure or path you’re supposed to follow when you say you’re going to be an actor. You go through drama school and all the training, and it’s just not really that accessible for deaf and disabled people the way it is now.
For a start we need to be rethinking that whole process. We want some equal opportunities, we want to showcase the talent.
But that’s always been a thing. Even when I was sixteen and I tried to get into drama school that was a massive thing. They were like, well you can’t sing so you can’t come to drama school.
I don’t think it’s quite that bad now.
But that is an area that’s got a lot of focus at the minute, which is really good, but also we go that problem that you go through training, put all that effort in, and then you’re out there looking for jobs and the support isn’t there either. Especially at the minute, with the obvious example would be, the changes being made to access work, which is what provides support to deaf and disabled people who are in work, not just as in art but all industry.
It’s not a benefit, so there is no cost to the government, but the current government plans seem like totally intent on dismantling it. Why, the government seem so intent on dismantling it, they must just be misinformed.
Particularly with David Cameron with his personal experience of disability, he must just be having the wrong facts being put in front of him. I mean, if he would like to be put straight so that he can put all his policies straight, you know…
Ian: You’re up for it
Emily: I am up for it and I’m sure many of my colleagues would be up for it as well.
Don’t call me I’m deaf. Email me.
Call my interpreter who I have because of access to work. (Laughs)
Ian: Tell me what you’re doing now then apart from getting involved in campaigning
Ian: Now you can’t set foot outside your door in Mickelover because of the paparazzi because you’re on TV
Emily: Yeah! Well I can’t go outside because the government are going to be after me now I’ve said that and the paparazzi are going to be after me for a different reason. Everyone is for one reason or another
Ian: And the rest of the answer involved Hollywood and cutting out the middle man.
She’s great. Really, really good fun. Watching back that episode of Holby City with Emily Howlett, Derby Actor.