Victoria Lucie: acting the part

Victoria Lucie, director Peter Nicholson, actor Gemma-Leah Devereux at the 'Dartmoor Killing' open air premiere.

Victoria Lucie, director Peter Nicholson, actor Gemma-Leah Devereux at the 'Dartmoor Killing' open air premiere. - Credit: Archant

Dartmoor actress Victoria Lucie has made a quick transition from school to stage and screen, as she tells Jimmy Swindells

Victoria Lucie, director Peter Nicholson, actor Gemma-Leah Devereux at the 'Dartmoor Killing' open air premiere.

Victoria Lucie, director Peter Nicholson, actor Gemma-Leah Devereux at the 'Dartmoor Killing' open air premiere. - Credit: Archant

Breaking into the world of professional acting is no mean feat, so in a vastly oversubscribed industry it’s refreshing to find a local young actress who’s quickly making her mark.

In the space of just three years Victoria Lucie has been cast in two British feature films, a major US TV documentary/drama and found a steady stream of employment treading the boards across the country.

I meet Victoria one chilly morning in her family’s Nordic barbeque cabin, nestled behind their home in the south Dartmoor village of Sparkwell. Victoria welcomes me inside offering hot tea and rock cakes before I’ve even sat down. I’m soon aware of her self-deprecating humour and charm.

I ask how her parents felt about the idea of her going into the industry, when at the age of 14 she expressed a serious interest in music and drama. They very practically sent her to be assessed by an ex-director of Laine Theatre Arts, a well-respected musical theatre school.

Laughing about it now, she recalls: “They turned to me and said ‘We’re not going to flog a dead horse Vicky! We’re going to make sure you’re okay before we support you one hundred percent.’”

Thankfully the response from the director was positive: “Yes, she’s West End fodder, she’ll be fine. She just has to clamber over the other hundreds of them.”

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Victoria is grateful to her parents for instilling a realistic outlook in her from an early age. After completing her A levels she continued working shifts at the local pub, the Michelin-starred Treby Arms, while acting in profit-share theatre performances. A season of panto followed, playing the title role in Sleeping Beauty. She then decided it would be a good idea to impose a five year deadline in which to become fully self-sufficient through the performing arts.

She thanks her dad for her work ethic, saying: “We find it really hard to relax. I feel guilty if I don’t do something for a day. I’m a strong believer in that you make your own luck.”

The hard work evidently paid off as in 2014 Devon-based talent agency Patrick Management signed her up after seeing her perform in a production of The Tempest. They immediately sent her to audition for the younger version of the lead character in a feature film entitled Dartmoor Killing, which was to be shot on location that summer. The director cast her on the spot.

Her teenage character in the film has to deal with some pretty heavy subject matter, including incest and rape. A trial by fire for a first film role it seems, but her ability to get into character at the drop of a hat helped a great deal. In between takes Victoria and fellow actor Lewis Peek (Poldark), would joke around a lot to lighten the mood on set, then switch back into work mode at the call of ‘Action!’. Unlike a method actor suffering for their art, Victoria says her approach is more: “Read it, learn it, say it. I’m just a normal person who pretends to be someone else for a living.”

Last summer she completed a rite of passage for many an actor by promoting and acting in a play at the Edinburgh Festival. It received excellent reviews and played to a full house by the end of their run.

Then she was cast as Snow White, working on an ABC production filmed at studios in Bristol. Behind The Magic – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a docu-drama that follows Walt Disney’s research into the origins of the fairytale. I ask Victoria if she felt nervous about working on a production with Hollywood weight behind it. She confesses she struggled to perform monologues in front of her small A level drama class, but somehow acting in front of a large professional crew in a hanger sized studio felt completely natural.

Recently Victoria was invited to talk to female students at a special mentoring event at Kingsbridge Community College, called Westcountry Wonderwomen. The event was a huge success with speeches and round table discussions provided by professionals and entrepreneurs representing the fields of science, engineering, marketing, retail, blogging, literature and the arts.

Afterwards Victoria reflected on just how far she had come in a short space of time. “Having started with no idea how to get into the industry and where to look, to now a few years later being asked to help girls who are interested in becoming performers was wonderful and a great honour. I’m so glad to be able to give practical advice to these young women.

“People can have a preconception that we’re shut off in the South West within this industry but I couldn’t disagree more. It only takes a few hours on a train to get to London for auditions and many jobs are in cities all over the country, so re-locating happens all the time. Not to mention the ever-growing arts scene that is happening here.”

With a film and four plays under her belt already this year, and a play for The Worcester Repertory Company coming up in July, somehow I think that five year deadline isn’t going to be relevant anymore.

Victoria is appearing in Charlie’s Aunt at The Swan Theatre for the Worcester Repertory Company from 11 – 23 July.

Victoria’s Devon favourites

Cream teas at Angels Tea House in Babbacombe Bay.

A stroll around Burrator Reservoir.

Wandering at Saltram House.

The Treby Arms (Biased as I work there!).

The Barbican, Plymouth in general and the Royal William Yard.

Relaxing at Mothecombe Beach.

Dartmoor, preferably with dogs and family.

Pottering around Totnes, especially on market day.

Gazing in awe at Exeter Cathedral.

Many restaurants including, Rocksalt, Salumi, Quay 33, Jaka Bakery, What’s Your Beef?, HUBBOX and many more! I love good food.

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