Film / Horror / Science fiction / Television / Theatre

How drama classes turned shy Kate into a kick-ass screen star

kate-marie-daviesIt’s hard to imagine actress Kate Marie Davies ever being shy or being bullied.

On screen she exudes a hard-edged confidence as Nicole in the superb Bristol-set scifi web series, Horizon, and doesn’t appear the type to be messed with in the forthcoming Escape From Cannibal Farm [as I write this in November 2016, I’ve only seen the trailer].

Indeed, the part of Nicole was written for her – a high-flying desk jockey (who must spend her spare time working out her frustrations in the gym) suddenly thrown into armed combat after an alien invasion. She doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty or ripping the sleeves off her £500 suit, if that’s what it takes.

It’s the kind of role she relishes, as she told me her ideal characters are the likes of Lara Croft and Ellen Ripley (from Alien). You’d want her on your side if you’re encountering extraterrestrials or rural cannibals, that’s for sure.

But in her youth, Kate was as far removed from those on-screen roles as you can imagine. “I lacked confidence in most of growing up,” she told me. “I only had a small friendship group when I was younger, and I guess when I got to secondary school it was a lot more about whether you were cool enough for the other kids.

Kate (left) as Nicole in Horizon, with Simon Pearce as Dan and Alicia Ancel as Chloe.

Kate (left) as Nicole in Horizon, with Simon Pearce as Dan and Alicia Ancel as Chloe.

“I don’t think there was anything particularly wrong with me, I just felt I shrunk into the distance a little bit. Kids can be nasty to one another, and I used to sometimes be on the receiving end of a bit of bullying.

“But when I started doing drama, when I was about 18, I came out of my shell in an incredible way, and as you can tell now I’m not lacking in confidence.” [It’s true – I could tell]

“It was one of the best things I could ever have done really, just in terms of being able to talk to people and not be shy. So drama is something I would recommend to anyone who is suffering from low self-esteem. Just to get up there and feel that you’re good at doing something, and get the applause of people who appreciate your work.”

Kate is based in Bristol, her home city, and says it’s an ideal base. It’s close enough to London, and other filming locations. Recent shoots have seen her working in Manchester, Wales, and across Europe, as well as the capital. She’ll soon be off to South Africa too.

Her first acting experience was on stage – in fact she spent a decade treading the boards before film beckoned. “I adore working on stage”, she told me. “You get a hell of an adrenaline buzz to have such an intimate response from your audience when you’re performing. You experience their reaction first hand, whereas with film, sometimes you make a project and it won’t come out for a year or two after you shoot it, so you never really know how well it’s received unless you read reviews.

“You just have to hope and pray that somebody out there has enjoyed what you’ve done. In a theatre, you can just feel the energy in an auditorium – you can tell if you’ve done a good job and people have enjoyed it. It’s a pretty big buzz and something that I value, so it was a really enjoyable part of my career.”

Now, though, Kate is mainly focused on film work (though, if you’re lucky, you may still catch her in the occasional live performance). “I grew up watching a lot of horror and scifi, and I guess more thrillers than anything,” she said.

So what are her favourite films in those genres? “I love The Descent – as well as being horror, there’s a lot more to that film, and if you watch it several times you will draw up lots of different thoughts and feelings about it. I also love the fact that it’s a female-strong cast – five lead females, all strong actresses, and you really feel for them. You really invest in these characters before things start to go wrong for them. So the horror is just an additional element that wakes up the story, but I find it really gripping and I absolutely adore that film.

Kate as Jessica in Escape from Cannibal Farm

Kate as Jessica in Escape from Cannibal Farm

“In scifi, I prefer the darker kind of scifi like Alien and Terminator, rather than other things such as Star Wars. I would go so far to say that Terminator 2 is one of my favourite films ever made.”

Two upcoming projects in those genres [at November 2016] are season 2 of Horizon and the horror feature Escape from Cannibal Farm – both filmed and set in the West Country, and both with parts written specifically for Kate.

“I love playing Nicole in Horizon,” she said. “She really grows as a character in season 2 – the sequence of events allow her to change fot the better. She becomes like a protective older sister.

“Jessica Harver in Escape from Cannibal Farm was amazing fun to play – again with an interesting character arc. She starts off as the ‘girl next door’ – a bit of a victim – but through the events of the film she really grows as a character, and I think in some respects can become quite terrifying.

“I think the film is going to shock people because the trailer makes people think a certain thing about the film, but I think when people do watch it, they’re going to be surprised in a good way.”

As well as being an in-demand actress, Kate is a fitness trainer. In writing previous blog posts, I discovered Dawn Noel is also a personal trainer (and dancer) and Francesca Louise White spends a lot of time in the gym. So how physical is an actor’s life these days?

“I like to play roles who may need to hold their own in a fight, or who look like they could be in the military or the police, so I need to keep in shape. Also working on a film set is quite physically demanding anyway, so it pays to keep fit, and I feel lucky to have the two jobs that work so well together.”

TV is a future work goal for Kate, but meanwhile she’s busy with some great kick-ass roles in independent films. That shy schoolgirl has come a long way.

If you’re involved in independent film and seeking help with publicity or other communications, check out Weltch Media.

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