Growing up, many of us are made to believe that in order to achieve our dreams we must follow one straight traditional route. Traditionally, for creatives looking to dominate the arts, 'all roads must lead' to a prestigious performing arts school. But now more than ever, creatives are carving their own pathways to lights, cameras and action. Actor and producer Andrew Prince is among them. Recently, his first ever TV series Good Fellas was picked up by a major TV station and is set to air on UK screens next year.
“I never thought acting or film would be something that I would go into,” Andrew tells Out The Box.
“When I was in year 7, I performed a monologue and I convincingly cried through it. My teacher was shocked. She called me aside and told me I had a gift and should really get into acting. I didn’t listen to a word she was saying because I was so focused on pursuing football. But when I was 17, my brother badly broke his leg during a game. It totally put me off.”
Andrew went on to write a children’s book and finished up his masters degree in Creative Writing. Acting opportunities ensued and Andrew received the opportunity to be an extra on the Peter Pan movie.
“Being an extra was purely about gaining experience,” Andrew says. “It helped me to understand how everything worked on set. Seeing Hugh Jackman (and him giving me a lottery ticket) was definitely a bonus! That opportunity made me realise that I could really be an actor.
“I said I wanted to get an acting agent and people told me I needed to go to drama school first. I ignored that advice and got an agent within 2 weeks and immediately started booking work.”
Andrew decided he would stop at nothing to make his dream a reality. He executive produced his first short film something Andrew calls a huge learning curve.
“I did a lot of research, spoke to a lot of acting coaches and tried to gain as much understanding as possible. I learnt a lot in a short amount of time. Working on the project taught me about the relationships you should have with the actors and directors, the producers, production coordinators and how to deal with finance. The whole experience was a massive blessing.”
Andrew may be a gifted actor, but his love for writing holds a deeper purpose.
“I write what I want to see in the world,” he says. “With acting, your role always depends on what has been written for you. Before I started writing my own stuff, the only roles I could go for were related to crime, drugs or that of someone coming from an estate or a lower income family.
“I grew up colour blind,” Andrew continues. “I’ve always seen people simply for who they are. But I realised that the industry doesn’t. They write very stereotypical roles for people from ethnic minorities and that’s why I started writing my own material.”
Andrew believes that diversity on screen isn’t about race, but content. He says that shows such as Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge show diversity because they reflect a different era. Andrew says that just as multiculturalism is a norm in our country, so it should also be on TV.
“Diversity needs to be redefined. Growing up, my best friend was Chinese and one of my boys was Turkish and polish. To me, that’s not diversity, it’s the norm,” Andrew explains.
“We need to be putting content on TV that reflects all our nations, especially in London. Over 40 per cent of the industry is based in London and over 40 per cent of TV submissions made are from people of ethnic minorities. So production companies are either trying to be selective about who they pick, or the submissions made by ethnic minorities aren’t good enough. I find it hard to believe that there is no one who isn’t capable of working in those ranks.”
It’s long been established that for there to be equal opportunities in the entertainment industry, something needs to change from the top down. People of all backgrounds need to be in positions of power for there to be real and fair change.
“Instead of calling institutions racist, we should start calling out individuals,” Andrew says. “We need to look at their track records see if they have actually been involved in ensuring that multiculturalism is being reflected in their organisations. If there isn’t, then there’s a clear problem with how they perceive the UK. I don’t want to get into an organisation because of the colour of my skin. I want to get into it because I know I’m the best person for the job.”
Andrew says that his best role so far been in his upcoming show Good Fellas which he executive produced alongside Stephané Alexandre.
“I’ve learnt that behind every successful company, there’s one woman that has know it all and Stephané is that woman. She is an amazing friend and businesswoman and has such an eye for detail and a heart for people. That has really allowed the project to just flourish.”
Set to air on our TV screens in 2017, the coming of age comedy-drama based in Surrey, focuses on the life of five young men attempting to navigate their way through the ups and downs of life.
“It’s like the Inbetweeners meets the Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Andrew says. “One of the characters is a virgin, one is a geek, one is the popular kid, one is gay and one a sex addict. They’re all really good friends and their different personalities work well together. Their perceptions on women all come together to make one crazy season. Initially the first few episodes might appear to be misogynistic, but as they grow, they begin to understand the importance of women.”
So far, the trailer alone has had over 200,000 views across different social media platforms. It’s clear that this fresh type of content is what the public want to see.
In this D.I.Y era, many creatives can often be left scratching their heads on how to really take their projects from one stage to the next. In true Out The Box style, we ask Andrew: What advice would you give?
“Just start,” he says. “I started writing Good Fellas in my bedroom. Sometimes over preparing is a mistake. There’s no amount of preparation that can prepare you for failure. Nothing compares to the strength of someone that has failed, but got back up again.
“During the production of Good Fellas, myself and Stephanie made so many mistakes. But we got back up, learnt from the mistakes and kept on going. If you’ve got an idea, just write it. Good Fellas is the first TV series I’ve ever written and it’s got picked up. So just write, just produce; just jump right in there.”
Check out the Good Fellas trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw-dXp7V7bk&feature=youtu.be
Follow Good Fellas: @thosegoodfellas