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The Industry

Image credit: Joanna Nicole Photography

Actors from ‘Wonka’, ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘Harlots’ tell us about their favourite roles from their acting careers.

As actors, there are many factors that contribute to your overall professional experience when working on a production. While landing a role and having your talent acknowledged will always be considered a success, it’s the external elements that shape the role and your career – and your enjoyment of it. 

You might be working with an actor you’ve always admired, a director whose work you adore, or shooting in sunnier climates. Regardless, we’re sure you have a favourite role that comes to mind!

We spoke to actors Amit Shah, Tracy Ifeachor and Rosalind Eleazar – who were the judges at the Spotlight Prize 2023 – to find out what their favourite acting roles were and why:

The Role That Changed Everything

Spotlight member Amit Shah has been a huge hit on our TV screens, with numerous successes including Black Mirror, Mr Bates vs the Post Office and appearances in blockbusters such as Johnny English 3, Last Christmas and The Hundred-Foot Journey. 

Amongst an illustrious list of credits, Amit said his favourite role was, “Playing ‘Faisal’ in Happy Valley. It just completely changed everything for me and the way I approach my work now.” 

“Working with [writer] Sally [Wainwright] was a real gift,” he added. “She has this deep understanding of everything that goes on. Sometimes, I felt like I didn’t even need to ask questions with her. Everything was just there on the page.”

All Roles Have Their Moments

Fellow judge and Spotlight member Tracy Ifeachor has also had many career highlights. After winning a scholarship from the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, the Plymouth-born actor went on to land a role in Casualty, before experiencing huge voice over success in video games such as Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Spider-Man 2. She has since had roles in Showtrial, Treason and has most recently starred alongside stars Hugh Grant, Olivia Coleman and Timothée Chalamet in the feature film, Wonka.

Although Tracy couldn’t choose one favourite role from the many she’s played, she did have some valuable advice: 

“I have favourite pieces of all the roles I play,” she said, “But the thing I am really passionate about are roles that are going to uplift people. I have really liked playing roles that put something positive out – even if they’re a baddie!” 

Tracy concluded, “I don’t have a favourite role, I have favourite moments!”

Impossible to Choose Just One!

Starring as ‘Violet Cross’ in the feminist, genre-subverting Harlots, Spotlight member Rosalind Eleazar was heralded for her stylish performance as an 18th-century bisexual pickpocket in the 2017 series – and received a massive 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

“I actually have two favourite roles,” she told us. “In The Personal History of David Copperfield, which was directed by Armando Iannucci, I played ‘Agnes’. That has to be one of the happiest times of my life. Armando is an incredible director, the script was brilliant and the whole cast was just phenomenal.” 

We managed to catch up with Rosalind when she was a Spotlight Prize judge, where she also gave some invaluable advice on how to choose the right monologue.

Rosalind’s other favourite role was in, “A play called The Starry Messenger, written by one of my favourite writers, Kenneth Lonergan. To work with a writer like that was extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as fulfilled.”

Take a look at our website to find out more about the Spotlight Prize, including interviews from previous Spotlight Prize winners Angela Jones and Aaron Hodgetts, and graduate acting advice.