Josie Cerise - the ‘working class’ actress from Eccleston

Josie Cerise

Josie Cerise - Credit: Archant

Josie Cerise has realised her childhood of performing on stage, but it hasn’t been an easy journey, as Rob Gemmell found out

No stranger to Lancashire, Josie Cerise was brought up in the beautiful village of Eccleston near Chorley. It was during her time at St Mary’s Primary School in the village when she was cast in the production of “Bugsy Malone” that she truly discovered her passion for the art.

“I was a show off as a child!” Josie laughs. “I loved nothing more than to dance, sing and entertain. The more I did it, the more people laughed and I was encouraged by my parents and my teachers to pursue it.” It was during a performance in Lancaster later on in her career that Josie bumped into her old music teacher from St Mary’s. “She told me that she thought she recognised my name in the program and knew she was right to cast me in Bugsy Malone!” Josie attended Lucy Collins Academy of Dancing, also based in Eccleston. “It is a great place, I loved going there as I learned to dance and it really helped with my confidence.”

Josie’s pursuit of the art is a very admirable one. It is one that is built up of grit, determination and dedication. Josie concludes, “I didn’t go to drama school as my family couldn’t afford it. It was a big aspect of my life and one that I was really passionate about, so I ended up taking the higher education route and studied for three years at Northumbria University. It was a great experience for me as it taught me a lot about life. It taught me that things aren’t just offered to you on a plate and if you want something then you have to go out there and get it. It made me very proactive which is an important trait as an actor.”

From university, Josie went on to do an apprenticeship with a theatre company in the North East called Northumberland Theatre Company. “They ran the Interact Apprenticeship which is a theatre training ensemble consisting of a year of training masterclasses with people with different involvement in theatres who came along for workshops and I also worked with different theatre company’s around the country where I could pick up tips from watching other actors and how they work.” Despite being labelled as a “working class” actor, Josie wouldn’t change anything. “I’ll sometimes get overlooked for certain types of work,” she reflects “as people tend to look at where you’ve trained, but if I were to start all over again, I would do it exactly the same way. Dame Judi Dench is a huge supporter of working class actors and feels there should be more opportunities for them to perform and showcase their talent.”

This December, Josie will be performing as the Princess in “The Princess and the Pea” which is the latest offering from Action Transport Theatre. “I went along to an audition after seeing some of their previous plays. I was a fan of the work they produced and about the message that they convey in their shows. They tackle tough issues addressed to children and I really support the work they are doing.” The play is an adaptation of the original story as Josie goes on to say. “I play the princess, but I am not your typical Princess. I play her more as a hero. She is quite a feisty character.” The tale reflects modern society, as Josie concludes. “She has gone on a journey to seek refuge and shelter. It is a very prevalent message in the media with the echoes of modern life etched into the play.”

With a professional career spanning five years, Josie has kept herself very busy. She has played a variety of different characters including a bear and even a mouse in the West End performance of “The Gruffalo” which she did for a year. It was a role that also took her to Dubai. “It was a great experience for me as I got to perform on the West End and I even got to see some of the world.”

Josie takes experience from each role she plays and for her it is more about the show than the role itself and she takes positivity from each one. One of Josie’s dream roles is one that she has already played as the lead in ‘The Rise of Little Voice.’

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“I loved playing the part because it was such a contrasting character to play as she is timid at first and then becomes a bigger character towards the end and I could really see the audience believed in my performance. I would love to perform the role again one day, but on a stage in the West End!”

And judging by Josie’s character and determination, it will only be a matter of time before she does.

The Princess and the Pea is on at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool from 4 Dec-9 Jan. For further info call 0151 709 4988 or visit