THE BIG INTERVIEW: Accidental actress

Swindon Advertiser: Sandy Slade Sandy Slade

SANDY Slade, 48, is a cast member in the video for Robbie Williams’ Christmas single, Dream a Little Dream. She started her acting career only a couple of years ago. Sandy lives in Stratton St Margaret and is the mother of two grown-up children.

SO how does an actor accelerate from nought to ‘Robbie Williams video’ in the space of about two years?

Does Sandy Slade, who didn’t discover her vocation until her mid 40s, have any advice?

“It isn’t easy. People get put off by the fact that it’s going to be difficult, but if you find something you love doing, don’t let it go. It’s going to be tough and you have to keep hold of it,” she says.

“At the end of the day the material things do not matter. What does everybody wish for? They want to be happy, don’t they?”

She also cheerfully admits that starting out later than most can be good in terms of supply and demand.

“I’m very lucky because there are millions of fish in a massive pond of 18 to 30-year-old young beautiful actresses out there who want to make a name for themselves, but when you get to my age we’re all swimming serenely around a much littler pond because the rest have either given up for family reasons or lost the hunger for it.”

Sandy’s acting career started by accident when she auditioned for a low budget horror film because the producer was an author she admired. Nowadays she prefers not to name either, but it was the start of an adventure with no end in sight.

“I had no intention of becoming an actor. I went there purely to meet the guy because he had written all these books.

“I thought I might be in with a chance as an extra but I got offered a role. That gave me my first taste of acting.

“That was the turning point, in my mind. It was in 2011.”

Sandy began approaching other production companies, and as her reputation grew they began approaching her. She later took acting lessons, only to discover that Method Acting – when an actor tries to inhabit a character rather than simply play one – was what she’d already been doing instinctively.

The Robbie Williams video is only one part of a CV that includes everything from a zombie film called Wasteland to a poignant piece about euthanasia called When I am Gone. She has worked with organisations as diverse as the Yorkshire police and fire services and a group of filmmakers from the University of the West of England.

A more recent independent piece, Mesto, is about to do the rounds of the festivals, with Sandy in the lead role of a mourner at a funeral harbouring a tragic secret about her relationship with the deceased.

Then there’s The Day After Dark, which is currently being completed. “That’s going to be an amazing film. It’s a vampire film but it’s not like Twilight or any rubbish. It’s a fantastic independent company.”

As well as appearing in independent films, Sandy also works as an extra in more conventional fare. A forthcoming Call The Midwife, for example, will feature her as a nosy neighbour.

“I prefer the independent feature films to the big productions. With the big productions a lot of the humanity is gone.”

Sandy is from Brinkworth. Her mother, Christine, is a retired librarian who spent her career in Swindon. Her father, Clifford, is a retired engineer. She has a brother, Simon.

Sandy’s previous work couldn’t be more different from what she does now. She attended Malmesbury School. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It’s only now that I realise you don’t know it until you’ve found it.”

Nevertheless, she was successful in work. “After school I was on a YOP scheme [an employment scheme for young people in the 70s and 80s] and asked if I could work in a library. They didn’t have any places.” Sandy was sent to work instead in a care home.

“I did a year there and got such exemplary feedback that they kept me on as a cleaner for a few months until I turned 18, then hired me as the youngest care officer in Wiltshire.

“From there I was encouraged to try nursing training, so I went to PMH. We covered all areas of nursing in training but I then went to work in general surgery and paediatrics. I qualified at 20.”

She spent four years in nursing, but left when changes to the NHS left her feeling the job wasn’t the same one she’d joined. There then followed four years as a specialist medical insurance underwriter with Allied Dunbar, which she left to raise her children.

She later worked as a teaching assistant, went to Cirencester College to catch up on some exams she felt she hadn’t done justice to while at school – and worked in a hardware shop in Malmesbury.

Then came the audition that would change her life.

And the future?

“I get called an old hippie a lot of the time because I’m very spiritual. I tend to not look too far in the future and I don’t dwell on the past. I just keep going in the moment. I’ve got so much in the pipeline to look forward to.”

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