Published on St Kilda News
Poppy Drayton is a wonderful happy person who has been acting professionally since 2012. She landed her first major role as Elizabeth in the TV movie “When Calls the Heart” and later went on to play Madeleine Allsopp in “Downton Abbey.” Poppy has also done stage work, appearing as Leonora in “The Green Bay Tree” at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London in 2014 and Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” She recently, in 2016, played a memorable performance as the elven princess Amberle Elessedil in “The Shannara Chronicles.” I asked Poppy if she had some free time to answer some questions and she was happy to help, so I began with.
What was it that inspired you to want to become an actress?
I travelled quite a lot growing up, and lived abroad for 10 years so I had a lot of change in my life but acting was always the one constant. I loved being in sketches and school plays so it seemed like the natural progression to go to drama school to train, which I then did for 3 years.
How happy were you when you landed your first major role in When Calls the Heart?
I was over the moon. It was my first major on-screen role and it took me to Romania for 3 weeks. Naturally I was a bit daunted before I got out there because I was in a new country with a bunch of people I’d never met, with a lot of important work ahead of me but within a couple of days, I felt right at home. I had a wonderful team around me and a lovely director, Michael Landon Junior, so I was in safe hands.
If you hadn’t become an actress where do you think you would be today?
I was going to go to Art College to study photography because I had dreams of becoming a travel photographer, so geographically, who knows, I could’ve ended up anywhere!
What was going through your mind when you were told that you had been cast to play the Elvin Princess Amberle in The Shannara Chronicles?
Utter disbelief! I was filming another film on Osea Island at the time and my schedule was pretty rigorous so when I was asked down to London to screen test for Amberle, there was a chance I wasn’t going to be able to make it. Luckily I did, and found out a few days later, I’d got the part. I don’t think I stopped smiling for weeks.
What was life like as a kid growing up in England?
I actually spent most of my childhood abroad. My father’s work meant that we travelled around quite a bit so I didn’t settle back to the UK until I was a bit older. It took some adjusting coming home, especially as I’d picked up quite a strange Anglo/American/Dutch accent on the way. It definitely gave me a bug for travelling.
When doing the Shannara Chronicles, what was it like working with Ivana Baquero and Austin Butler?
It was incredible, they’re both such brilliant actors and lovely human beings. I felt very lucky getting to know them over the course of the 6 months. By the end, we were practically family.
When you were travelling. What was your favourite location around the world to visit and why?
New York has a special place in my heart. I lived there when I was 3 but I went back recently for the first time since, and fell in love with it. There’s a wonderful quote by Simone De Beauvoir that goes “There’s something in the New York air that makes sleep useless,” and I think that captures it perfectly. You can’t rest in New York; you just have to explore.
How surprised were you by how good the effects were in the Shannara Chronicles?
I knew they’d be pretty remarkable because some of our Special Effects Team worked on The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies, but the finish result surpassed all expectation. It’s so exciting to finally see on screen the things you’ve been imagining for so long.
In your spare time. What sort of things do you like to do for fun?
I still love photography and take my Canon AE-1 camera with me wherever I go.
What reason was it that brought your attention to the character of Amberle Elessedil and made you want to audition for her?
I was captured by her mix of vulnerability and strength. Amberle has so many hurdles to overcome throughout the series and what really struck me was the idea of playing someone who has to push herself so hard to fulfil her destiny. I hope this inspires young girls to realize their potential and hits home the message that they are capable of doing everything boys can do, if not more.
If someone asked you what it takes to become an actor, what words of wisdom would you give them?
I would tell them to listen and observe the world around them. Become fascinated by people and how they behave. Also, you never stop learning; so go to classes and train. If you have the passion, go for it!
Well there you are, a wonderful interview from a talented actress who will keep showing us many more great movies and series to come. Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it up.