Often, there’s two types of advice you can get: the 3am ill-informed “one more drink won’t hurt” kind, and the kind that changes your life for the better. Luckily for Belgium-born Olivia Vinall, she received the latter from her mum during a conversation that would ultimately push her into pursuing her dream of acting. “When it came to thinking ‘what should I study?’, my mum was just adamant!” She fondly recalls, “She said ‘it’s difficult to do anything, so if you can put your heart and soul into anything and do what you love, if you’re lucky enough to be in that position, then take it with both hands and go for it!’”
Taking that advice head on, Vinall went on to study drama at the University of East Anglia before heading to drama school in London. Drawing inspiration from the stars of silent films – she lists Charlie Chaplin and Lillian Gish as two of her main influences – she started turning heads in the acting world when she landed the role of Desdemona opposite Adrian Lester’s Othello in the National Theatre’s 2013 production. “On the first night I was shaking so much and I was so, so nervous.” Vinall laughs. “Rory [Kinnear, who played Iago] was stood with me before my first entrance and I remember he had to take my shoulders and push me on stage because I just couldn’t believe it!”
Luckily getting over her nerves, Vinall has gone on to prove herself as a commanding and compelling stage presence, and is now branching out into the world of the silver screen. “This past year has been the first year that I haven’t done any theatre because I’ve wanted to see what filming is like in that medium and it’s been really exciting.” She explains. “What I find exciting for me is finding what I love about theatre in filming.”
Scoring roles in BBC’s Apple Tree Yard and new independent flick Let’s Get Killed, Vinall is also appearing in the latest adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman In White, which is set to hit our TV screens last night. “I actually play two characters!” She explains of her role (or, should we say, roles). “The plot revolves around how similar these two characters look […] The drama unfolds around the ways these women are manipulated and forced by men to live in a particular way and do certain things because of their desires and wants to get what they need in life. It’s a really good thriller!”
Destined to wow us throughout the year, Vinall is cementing herself as a force to be reckoned with on both stage and screen. “Now I’m just looking for interesting characters.” She says of her next move. “I’m just trying to find a read a script and know what to do next. That may be theatre or film, I’m not sure!” Well, we’re certain that whatever she does next is bound to be show-stopping.
The Woman In White continues on BBC One this Monday 30th April at 9pm.
Hirokazu Endo using Bumble and Bumble
Kristina Vidic at Stella Creative Artists using YSL Beaute