1 . What was your school like?
I went to a mixed state school in Oxford, of about 2,000 pupils.
2. What is your favourite memory from school?
My favourite memory of school was something called 'Common Room Olympics'. We set up a series of makeshift obstacle courses in our sixth form common room and raced around them. It also involved a game of flinging a shoe from your foot into a bin on the other side of the room. I think that was imaginatively named 'The Shoe Game'.
3. How did your school experience influence/help your career?
My school was brilliantly diverse and I met people whose backgrounds were vastly different from my own. It taught me never to judge people on first impressions, and gave me the ability to find common ground where you don't initially think there will be any. This comes in handy every time I join a new cast and have to dive straight into work.
4. Were you bullied at school? If so how did you overcome this?
I found teenage girls very difficult for a few years. While some people suffered from more obvious types of bullying - physical or verbal, I struggled more with the psychological power girls had over each other. I remember times when I'd go into school and not know whether I would be the one out of favour that day, where people would be whispering or talking about me, or I'd be excluded in subtle ways. There was a huge amount of bitching going on a lot of the time, rumours spread, and people being left out. Although on the surface it didn't look like much it was incredibly hurtful and damaging to self-esteem.
I can't pretend I was innocent either - it was always a relief when the negative attention went onto someone else so I wouldn't stick up for people who needed it. There's the Edmund Burke quote: 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'. Teenage girls are good at doing nothing too.
I overcame it by relying on my brilliant family. I told people when things got really difficult so I never felt alone in it. The problem seemed to fade away as everyone grew up a bit and stopped tolerating such stupid behaviour from each other. It suddenly became really not cool to be a bitch.
5. What was your favourite school subject?
My favourite subjects were drama and geography. Totally different but I loved them both. I did a geography degree before becoming an actress.
6. What did you look forward to when you went back to school after the holidays? What advice would you give to young people who are going back to school after the holidays?
There was nothing I loved more than getting new stationary before term started. It sounds lame but it's true. I also looked forward to the possibilities a new school year could bring. There was something exciting about change - new teachers, new subjects and so on.
7. Was there anything you worried about when you went back to school after the holidays? How did you overcome this?
It could be nerve wracking going back sometimes. The unknown is scary as well as exciting, and after a really comfortable couple of months of holidays where I had more control over how i spent each day it could be really annoying to give that freedom up. But I was pretty good at focussing on the aspects of school I really loved and looking forward to them. There would be people I hadn't seen all summer that I missed, and also I genuinely enjoyed learning.
8. What was your favourite school meal?
I was a die-hard packed luncher and I'd eat the same thing every day until I was sick of it. There are a number of sandwiches I will never be able to eat again as a result! Marmite, tuna, chicken wraps....
9. If you had to do school again what would you change?
I'd have worried far less about what other girls thought of me. Now I can't even remember most of their names so it seems crazy to think that at the time I tied myself in knots trying to please them. And I would have stood up for other people it was happening to and refused to be a stupid teenage girl myself!
10. What advice would you give to anyone who is worried about going back to school because of bullying issues?
School is not your entire life, even though it feels like it at the time. It's one part of it and it won't last forever. Build yourself an armour out of the good things in your life, so that even if school is tough you have other thing to focus on. Join clubs, make friends outside of school, spend time with family, start a band - anything that you enjoy.
- Try not to let what's going on socially affect your work. There might be a time in the future when you needs those grades, but you won't even remember who was in your class.
- Being mean is not cool. A time will come when everyone turns on the mean girls and refuses to put up with them. Take some power back and stand up for people who need it.
- Find someone to talk to about anything that's stressing you out. Even if you don't want them to do anything about it, getting it out can help.
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