Chicks Chat with….
Emrhys Cooper, actor, singer and dancer. He works across the board from the stage to screen, small and big. Some of his credits include the upcoming new original series Vanity for Stylehaul, We Will Rock You, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Desperate Housewives, CSI:NY, Person of Interest, Kushuthara: Pattern of Love, to name but a few. He divides his time between here and the US, so we at Those London Chicks were pleased to catch up with Emrhys for a chat about his life and work.
Having attended the Laine Theatre Arts School in Surrey, the assumption would be that you had an interest from an early age in the performing arts. Were you one of those youngsters singing and dancing around the house? Tell us a bit about your early life.
Well, I had way too much energy so my mum put me in dance class to calm me down. My sister had already started dancing so I bugged my mum to let me join in. I think I was around 6 years old when I started. I was constantly putting on shows at home and charging my friends and family to watch… Hey, they call it show business for a reason 😉
Sometimes with actors in Musicals it’s easy for them to get ‘pigeon holed’ into only being Musical ‘turns’. How did you manage to break into TV and Film?
I grew up performing from a very young age whether it was acting, singing or dancing. I just loved to entertain, and I guess I enjoyed being the centre of attention! I took it very seriously as I found regular school very challenging. I am dyslexic and ADD, so I found concentrating extremely hard. I broke into the wonderful world of showbiz because of my dance and singing background, but it was acting I was really focused on. That said, I will always be dancing and singing, even if its just around the house.
You successfully work in the US, dividing your time between there and the UK. What made you decide to make the move 5 years ago?
Thank you. I had always dreamed of going to LA since watching some of the classics. Then one day after finishing a musical in London, I decided to pack my bags and go check things out in LA for a month or two. I ended up loving every second of it, so I moved out there shortly afterwards. Trust me, it hasn’t all been rosy by any means. But it’s taught me a lot about this industry and myself.
I still see myself as British and always will. I hope to spend more time there in the future. I miss it a lot.
There are an increasing amount of British actors going to the US to further their acting careers. What are the challenges that people rarely discuss in terms of making a go of it in LA from a practical and business point of view?
Well the most important challenge is the visa situation. People will not be able to hire you here unless you have either an O1 visa or a Green card – unless you’re being brought over for a specific job. It was very tough getting my first visa, then to get the Green Card. I feel extremely lucky to now have my Green Card. It’s also very challenging getting around – I would recommend getting a car! When I first moved here, I used a big map to get around, and I was constantly late for everything. It’s now easier!
Beginning in June 2015 you can be seen starring alongside Denise Richards, Karrueche Tran and Alex Frnka, in the new original series Vanity for Stylehaul. So tell us about your new series Vanity.
I had an absolute blast filming this show. We just wrapped 12 episodes and the show starts airing on the 11th of June on StyleHaul. The cast and crew were so fantastic. I play the romantic love interest in the show. My character “Alistair” gets to go on an amazing journey. It was fun getting to develop a really complex, and hopefully multi-layered character. Alistair is definitely not what you expect him to be. Bernie Su,, the creator and director of the show was extremely supportive and great to work with. I hope the audience enjoys the show as much as we had fun working on it.
You’ve landed some great roles in some big US TV shows, Desperate Housewives and most recently you appeared as a guest lead in Person of Interest. What was like going into and working on an award winning show, with such an established cast?
Very exciting! Person of Interest was an incredible experience to work on. I loved the role and storyline. I was inspired by James Bond to become an actor, so playing Young Greer was a step closer to Bond. Greer is a young MI6 Spy, with a very interesting path and future. It was nerve racking stepping into the shoes of John Nolan (Greer) on POI as he is already a well established character, but luckily the fans of the show seemed to embrace me as him, so that was lovely to know.
Emrhys, you have now added South Asia to the list of places for projects. With Till we meet again set in Thailand and recently released Kushuthara: Pattern of Love filmed in Bhutan, how exotic! What can we expect from the film and your leading role in Kushuthara?
Kushuthara is one of the first films to come out of Bhutan, so you’ll learn lots about this hidden little Kingdom. My character goes on a very special journey. I was shocked recently to find out I won Best Lead actor for my performance in the film from IndieFEST film festival. I never expected it. But it was lovely to receive some recognition for my work.
How did your experience in South Asia differ from working/filming in the West?
I loved their passion for making films. I think they have a very interesting way of telling stories. When working on location, sometimes weather conditions can be tricky, so you have to be ready to just go with it. I am now going back to shoot another movie there in September. This time it’s a supernatural thriller. We have a wonderful cast and director and I am also helping produce it. I can’t wait to go back and see the friends I made there.
If all this filming wasn’t enough to be getting on with, as mentioned you sing. You released Hypnotise in 2013 and you have a follow up single coming out called Reboot my heart. If pushed to answer, what creative medium do you feel most passionate about and why?
I am an actor first, but I love to create too. Whether it’s music or choreography or a fun comedy skit. I need to keep feeling inspired and creative.
What’s next for you?
I am really not sure… I would love to know 😉 I have some films coming out this year, so I am looking forward to seeing them – as well as the Vanity series. I have several projects with my production company Dream It Productions. I’m working on a film that is set to shoot in LA, India and Bhutan later this year, which could be exciting. I’ve also decided to embrace the unknown and see what comes up.
Finally what advice would you give to an actor, singer or dancer who wanted to make the move to the US?
Do your research. Get organized. If you move here, have some sort of sideline work, in case you need some money to keep afloat till the good gigs start coming in. Give it time, nothing happens over night. Be careful of scammers and courses. A lot of people out here will rip you off if they have half the chance.
Enjoy the ride. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Your journey is your own.
Thank you so much Emrhys
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Feature Photo credit: Roon Photography