Natalie is originally from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and trained at Rose Buford College of Theatre & Performance, graduating in 2011.
Prior to this she attended the Live Youth Theatre in Newcastle (where she met her Emmerdale onscreen ‘mam’ Laura Norton). Coming from a working class family and area, Natalie credits the youth theatre for keeping her on the right track and giving her the opportunity to pursue a future acting career. Before Emmerdale Natalie also appeared in ‘I, Daniel Blake’, ‘Vera’ and ‘Doctors’.
Natalie’s character Amy has been involved in a number of gripping storylines since her return last March (2019), where we initially we saw her mum (Kerry, played by Laura Norton) coming to look for Amy in Ireland to convince her to return to Emmerdale – Natalie was incredible proud to be part of the storyline which coincided with the all-female episode for International Women’s Day. Since, we’ve seen her character caught up in a custody battle and have witnessed her struggles with a past abusive relationship. She also came into trouble due to some stolen money which ended up in an accidental fire and the death of an innocent man.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m a working class Actor from Newcastle currently living between London and Leeds (prior to lockdown) whilst working at Emmerdale playing series regular Amy Wyatt. This is a role I was longlisted for Best Newcomer as at the TV Choice Awards 2019. I grew up in Walker, Newcastle and attended Live Youth Theatre, where my passion for Acting grew. I enjoyed learning my craft from industry professionals and meeting likeminded people from all walks of life. This encouraged me to join National Youth Theatre. I left school for College and did a BTEC at Newcastle College before leaving Newcastle to attend Rose Bruford College.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I remember knowing that I would much prefer to spend my life surrounded by the type of people who were teaching me drama to any of my other teachers from school, and I think I based my career choices on that. I absolutely love people, I find our differences fascinating, I could people watch all day! And that’s essentially what actors do, we reflect society on stage or screen so I knew it was the job for me. You also get the added benefits of getting to play lots of drama.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I didn’t get into drama school on my first time of auditioning (or my second) and being from Newcastle it was costing a lot of money to travel up and down the country, as well as having to pay the drama school audition fees, so there was a point where I was working two jobs to pay for it all. I would work in a department store during the day and then in a club in the evening. Some days I would finish at 4am and begin again at 9am, that was tough because I love my sleep! There was a very funny point where I had a third job too. It was an acting role, which was on an educational site specifically to teach young people about the city’s history where I played a Tudor and at around mid-day you could find me running past the club I worked in during the evening dressed as a Tudor Vagrant from Sunderland with a “bag of dead rats” on my back.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date is most definitely getting the role of Amy Wyatt. I worked really hard on my auditions and I knew I play the character well but that never guarantees you a part, there’s so many factors come in to play with casting. When I got the call from my agent I was just about to go into a school to teach a drama class and I was all alone on the street but I definitely screamed and did a little dance.
I have worked with some incredible companies in my career though and I have to mention Open Clasp, I can’t tell you how much you learn from working with a company whose aim is to change the world, one play at a time by placing theatre at the heart of transforming the lives of disadvantage women and girls. If you are not familiar with their work I’d strongly encourage you to look them up.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Hard work. As actors we find ourselves in and out of work all our lives. Out of work usually just means not doing an acting job. With a good attitude and determination you learn these aren’t ups and downs they are all opportunities and you can continue to build your empire and reputation at all times and most importantly be happy. It’s important for an actor not to take a no from an audition as a fail, your performance is very rarely the reason. You can put this into practice in all walks of life and think “onwards and upwards”. Keep going and keep working hard. As well as an being an actor I am now also a director of two businesses and a Poscast host.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I have never been mentored officially but my attitude and skills are most certainly learned from those people I mentioned earlier – the industry professionals teaching our Youth Theatre. I think this is a really important thing for young people to have access too. And yes, in turn, I am now an industry professional who shares my skills with young people in youth theatres (vice principal PQA Colchester). We already have some of the young people I have taught now stepping into teaching roles. So I think mentoring is a wonderful thing, especially when your knowledge is then passed on by the generation below.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
When I joined Emmerdale one of the first things I told my friends about were the women in the office, we have three producers who are female, two casting directors who are female, I was very excited! Not only that but one of my first episodes was going to be an all female episode celebrating the fact we could have an all female episode using female cast and crew. The response online was largely incredible. I would love for everyone to be educated on how you can celebrate the success of a social group without it meaning anything negative towards anyone not in that group. I wouldn’t miss Pride for anything, It’s one of the best days of celebration, I never feel like I shouldn’t be there because I don’t identify as LGBTQ. Think of all the fun you would miss by not celebrating whenever you can. So more celebrating achievements please!
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Well my piece of advice echos an incredible man, Paul James (Senior Creative Associate Children and Young People Live Theatre Newcastle) who says “Think about the long game. Especially in our digital world, we really do measure our successes on speed and volume. You have to play the long game. The things I consider to be my biggest successes now are an accumulation of all those successes over the years, some of which felt like climbing Everest at the time, but now are barely a memory. You have got to take that pressure off your immediate successes and play the long game. Keep working hard and know it will fall into place. Also, there are many surprises along the way so always stay open to learning new things.”
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is the Podcast we are releasing on June 8th. My partner (Ali Ward) and myself have been having off-the-cuff chats with our friends about their journeys into the world of stage and screen. The idea was born in lockdown when we wanted to create content for our students at PQA Colchester and started chatting to our friends about their time at youth Theatre and where they are now. It turns out our friends are far too interesting to keep to ourselves and we have now dived into the world of podcasts. The first three episodes of Ad Libbing Podcast will be released on June 8th starring Himesh Patel (Yesterday, The Luminaries) Kirsty Oswald (Things I know to be True, Girl on the Train) and Roy Alexander Weise MBE (Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre). See, far too interesting to keep to ourselves, follow @adlibbingpod
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