You’ve opened our stories scrapbook where you can meet some of the inspirational people we’ve worked with along the way. No two people are the same, so neither are two scrapbook pages...
An afternoon with "Dreamer" - music maestro at Mac UK
Sandra laughs: "This is Tiernie. You say Cereal. She says melons."
Meet Tiernie (22) and Sandra (19), members of The Big House (former cast of Babylon) and part of our team of Associates.
Straight in with the important stuff. Favourite breakfast cereal?
S: This is gonna sound super boring but it’s oats. Oats with blueberries.
T: Melons I eat melons every morning. I love Melons.
S: That’s not even cereal man (lots of laughter). It’s fruit.
T: If you were Tarzan you’d have to eat a melon in the morning.
S: But we’re not Tarzan. “This is Tierney”. You say cereal. She says melons (more laughter).
What’s something that nobody knows about you?
S: Oh my gosh. OK. Well. I do this thing. I love getting dressed up and wearing elegant dresses and stuff (but I can’t really afford elegant dresses!) So I get my bedcovers wrap them around me and walk around my flat like “Ooo look at you”. So yeah I don’t think anyone knows that about me!
T: When I was about 12, me and my friend used to stand at the window, and sing the second star to the right from Peter Pan. And we thought if we do that Peter Pan will come and take us away to Never Never Land! (Oh god the whole world now knows that I wanted to be Wendy Darling).
“Me and my friend used to stand at the window, and sing the second star to the right from Peter Pan.”
What was your first experience of The Big House?
S: My first experience of The Big House was the Saturday workshop. So this is before the course actually started. Everyone seemed pretty open, chilled. I remember going through to the back. Some of them were dancing. I thought this place seems really cool. But I was still very stand-offish.
T: I was two hours late. I’ve never been able to keep time. (Maggie doesn’t believe me because I’m always early here). I couldn’t find this Amhurst road for the life of me. I was scared because I’ve been bullied quite a lot and I thought, oh god this is just a place where I’m going to get bullied all over again.
“I was like wow this looks like something from a zombie movie because it was all dark and hadn’t been painted yet. I text Maggie, she appeared and was lovely.”
What were your first impressions of each other?
T: I have never been around people my own age really. The people seemed nice but didn’t seem like the kind of people I’d talk to and that. And that’s how you always feel bad, because you judge people on how they look and act and then you find out they’re completely different. And that’s what I noticed over the next few weeks, I judged these people too soon, decided that they were all going to hate me. When really they were just the nicest people with the most nice nature you could possibly imagine. And now I’m friends with Sandra!
S: (laughs) It’s true, it’s true. And maybe it’s a thing I do for myself to keep myself safe or whatever. I guess I sort of just put people in boxes, like ‘this person’s gonna be like that’, ‘I know what that person’s gonna be like ’, ‘oh I’ve come across your type’. And everybody heres been completely different. You would not guess the characters that have come up. And they’re just so amazing.
“I like to be proved wrong actually. I like it when I think I’m right and I’m wrong. It’s not great at first but it’s nice. It’s a good thing.”
Why do you think drama is powerful?
T: It’s an escape route really.
S: I was literally just thinking that. You can have so much going on but you can come in and be like today I’m just going to be this character. But then at the same time it sort of forces you to deal with stuff that you maybe are trying to get away from. Especially if you are doing something like Babylon which is very real and close to home.
T: It’s not all about glamour or fame. There’s so much more behind acting. It’s about finding yourself through it.
S: Definitely. You take a role you’ve been given. You realise it takes a lot to be the best in that role. And it shows you, you’re capable of doing it. I didn’t think I would be able to do it. But obviously, I’ve proved myself wrong there. Yeah it definitely helps you to discover yourself.
“It’s so empowering. Because sometimes in ordinary life just Sandra, she can be so awkward and don’t know what to say, and then you put me on the stage and this completely different person takes over, and I love that. It’s a bit like a superpower.”
Had you done any previous acting?
T: I studied musical theatre in college, but I didn’t really go. I was really bad. I’d never committed myself to anything. My foster carer would be like why are you not in college? I pretended to be sick. So yeah this is the first thing I have committed myself to, in like forever.
S: Every time someone asks me this I’m like – does primary school count? We did loads of plays in primary school. Apart from that, no I haven’t really done anything like this.
How does acting make you feel?
S: With me, I find, it’s so empowering. Because sometimes in ordinary life just Sandra, she can be so awkward and don’t know what to say, and then you put me on the stage and this completely different person takes over, and I love that. It’s a bit like a superpower I think.
T: What I like about it is when you’re in the moment you forget about everything. There could be a war going on outside your door and you’d forget about it for that for that one moment. And it’s good to play around with different characters.
I act in everyday life in a way. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, and they do a really cool scene, I repeat it in my head and try and do it better than they did it. It’s like my way of auditioning. Or like, when I’m brushing my teeth in the mirror, I pretend I’m in the movie , so I do it all movie like. And I’m like “honey can you pass me the toothpaste”. Everything I do is a bit of an act. I’m not confident, but I act confident and I don’t know how that works but it makes me confident by acting it.
S: I think that yesterday was a great example. Yesterday Maggie asked us to speak at the afterparty. And I was so nervous. And I just went up there and started talking away and I was just like whoa where’s this coming from. It’s become easier to do things I find difficult or things that I’m afraid of. Acting is definitely feeding into my every day life.
“Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, and they do a really cool scene, I repeat it in my head and try and do it better than they did it.”
Have you seen changes in each other?
T: Yeah especially from you Sandra. When you first started the course, when I first met you, you weren’t very talkative.
S: I really wasn’t.
T: Being here gives you so much confidence. You’ve got people like Maggie who believes in us. Loads of people like social workers, they don’t always care about you, they’re doing their job. Maggie’s here because she genuinely wants to be here.
S: Sometimes I just sit there and think wow I wonder why Maggie does it? It’s so amazing what she does. And I don’t even think she realises it. She’s so completely different to other people who’ve been in your life, where they would just sort of put you down. There were quite a few times in my life where I thought to give up on things. And instead of being like you can do this, they would just be like Oh Sandra you’re a bit of a quitter I’m not sure you’re gonna go through with this. But with Maggie, she’s like it’s OK you had a bad day. Take a 5 minute break and then come back to it. We can deal with this later. Let’s do something else. She is so amazing.
A dream come true would be?
S: I would love to continue acting. I was walking through the station this morning and a bus goes past. And I was like it would be so cool to see my name, up there, like: starring Sandra Kagona. I would so love to see that. It seems like a really big out there dream, but why not, dream big.
T: So funny because I was thinking the same thing. Every time I see the buses go by, I’m like “I want that to be me”. Our faces on a bus?
S: I know right. Seriously!
T: Yeah I’ve always wanted to be in a movie. My dream – I know this sounds impossible – but I’ve always wanted to be in a movie with Tom Cruise.
S: If I could be in a film, mine would be “Step Up”, with Channing Tatum.
“I was walking through the station this morning and a bus goes past. And I was like it would be so cool to see my name, up there. Starring Sandra Kagona.”
What’s next month looking like?
S: Well we’re all getting mentors I know that. So just talking through things with our mentors and we’re going to have a business meeting with Maggie. And we also talked about a Little House, so getting younger people involved as part of The Big House. Quite a lot of ideas!
T: Right now I’m planning to do two filming projects. One I want to do a documentary about leaving care and the care system and how foster children are treated to raise more awareness. And I want to do a mini TV series for Youtube that the cast at The Big House are going to be involved in. That’s coming up this summer. But after that I want to go to auditions and try and get into the entertainment industry. And get my slot with Tom Cruise!
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