Ionica Adriana recently appeared as Genie in Aladdin at the Princess Theatre, Torquay. With the panto having now completed its run, Ionica took time out to answer a few questions about the production and her career to date.
Q: Can you tell us about your time in Aladdin and also about your own experiences of attending pantos?
Ionica: I have to admit, I’ve never actually seen one until I was cast in my first one 2 years ago so it certainly was a huge learning curve. Let’s just say I certainly learnt on the job! And my time in the production… well I can honestly say I laughed from start to finish. Panto can be a gruelling run with 3 shows a day, no understudies and a very short rehearsal process so having a good team around you is integral and can really make or break your experience. This year the cast have just been brilliant, a real supportive and talented bunch and just a joy to go to work with every day.
Q: You have been performing on stage since 2014 – do you have a favourite show to date?
Ionica: I think my favourite one in terms of roles has to be this panto to be honest. Playing the Genie has a lot of freedom, a larger than life character both physically and vocally but I think performing at ‘The Royal Albert Hall’ is something that I will never forget in this life time. When you stand in the middle of that stage looking up to the ceiling and all those seats around you it’s just breathtaking and pretty overwhelming.
Q: You have performed in various music videos – can you elaborate?
Ionica: Yes – that’s really how I started my career. Music videos were my first professional credits. I enjoy doing them but usually they are shot in one or a few days maximum, so as soon as you start it’s over unfortunately! I think my favourite was when I ‘body doubled’ for Lily Allen – the make-up team were brilliant and it was amazing wearing lots of different wigs/hair colours I’d never had!
Q: Stage and television – likes and dislikes of both.
Ionica: Stage – LIKES
Everything is and has to be in the moment
No performance is ever the same
Authentic Energy (from cast and audience)
Each performance you push your limits, learn and grow each and every time you step onto that stage – you always have the freedom to explore, change or adapt your character
Ionica: Stage Fright
People on mobile phones!
Q: Television – LIKES
Ionica: That if something goes wrong you can always do it again!
I like the stillness in which you have to act with. I’m very animated facially so this is something I’ve had to really rein in and it’s really taught me the importance of subtlety. The blink of an eye can tell a thousand things on screen, that in itself is a powerful tool.
Ionica: The waiting around but that’s because I have a short attention span! But no, I don’t really have any dislikes for TV!
Q: You feature in the documentary, “The Acting Class”, alongside Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Samuel West & Christopher Eccleston. Can you tell us about the filming and the documentary?
Ionica: It’s a documentary that deals with the lack of working class representation on both stage & screen and it is something I’m hugely grateful to be a part of – I am a huge fan for what it stands for. It explores the difficulties of being working class in this industry and what obstacles we face. It challenges and points out issues that are ignored or swept under the carpet – it is making huge waves in the industry. People are finally listening and really are the example of “be the change you want to see”. They have just won an award so I’d like to congratulate them on that because they have certainly worked very hard and for something so important.
Q: You are currently in the on-going production of the film, Schadenfreude, are you able to tell us about this?
Ionica: A little! I filmed a little last year for it and will be continuing through 2018. The cast include the likes of; Edward Tudor-Pole (Crystal Maze), Steve Sweeney (Lock Stock), Martin Serene (Se7en), Ronald Pickup (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) & narrated by Judi Dench to name a few so I feel very overwhelmed and excited to be working with such seasoned professionals!
Q: Going back to where it all began for you – how did you first get into acting and how has your career evolved?
Ionica: I went to college to do photography as an A level and changed to Musical Theatre on the day as I couldn’t do both courses together so until then I’d never thought I’d ever do it as a job. I sang at my local dance school and did GCSE Drama but as far as I was concerned, that was as far as it was going to go. I then (I think by accident!) got into one of the top drama schools, East 15 Acting School, and was told that we had auditioned with 4,000 applicants and got into a class of 16 so that’s when I really started to take it seriously and not take for granted the opportunity I had been given. Then after leaving and not graduating I had major knee surgery and moved to London with £40, no house, no job and no idea what I was doing but I sat with the “Contacts” book and wrote to every single agent in the book over the span of 3 weeks – I think I got about 4 replies, all being a “No”. So I started doing extras work and just from there I built connections, talked to people, really worked hard at understanding what this industry entailed and what is needed to get to the next step. What I have learnt more than anything in this industry is conducting yourself with kindness, integrity and love, like in life, will get you further than just being talented – word spreads fast and people don’t want to work with difficult or demanding divas.
Q: Where are you aiming for in your acting career?
Ionica: Ideally I would love to work more in TV with people like Kay Mellor or Sally Wainwright. I love their writing and what they produce is exceptional.
Q: Do you have any role models?
Ionica: Sarah Lancashire, Julie Walters, Victoria Wood, Maxine Peake, Kathy Burke, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are a few who I real admire – they are exceptional at their craft, career spans beyond believe (and really that’s what any actor hopes for, a long sustained and continued career), and they do it because they want to act, not be put on the front of a magazine. I think the problem now is that so many people just want to be famous and it really shouldn’t be about that… but we are living in a world of reality tv and social media… it all seems to be about numbers and popularity instead of talent and hard work.
Q: Away from the stage, what do you like to do to chill out?
Ionica: I love going on a drive or a walk not knowing where I’m going, music blaring and singing my heart out to some ballad. Just exploring new places. For example, when I was recently in Torquay and on my last day there, I just got in my car and drove around the moors and all along the coasts – when I went to NYC I started at the top of Broadway and walked the island to the Statue of Liberty exploring little streets and off the beaten track – I find that’s where some of the world’s best places are found.
Q: What next for you in 2018?
Ionica: A lot I hope! I’m hoping to move to Manchester as I really miss the North and I really want to do some northern TV so until I take the plunge I’ll reside in London and be singing for my supper!
What message for those following your career?
Ionica: Just a sincere thanks to those who are genuine and sincere. This career is up and down and people are quick to ride on the coat-tails when you are “doing well” but can be non-existent during the struggle. I think Oprah once said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” And I feel this is very true in this profession – so thank you to those who are true and there for the long ride. I’ve recently been very hurt by a few people, unfortunately in this industry, but to those that have stood by me and been loyal I really appreciate how much they have done for me.