The Tell Me Everything star spills all on her new projects.
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Taken from our Spring 2023 issue, order your copy here.
After landing roles in Netflix’s Free Rein and Channel 4’s hit series Ackley Bridge, Carla Woodcock is no stranger to growing up on screen. Now flipping the tables and taking on the character of 16-year-old social media star Zia in 2023’s answer to Skins, the Tell Me Everything rising star sat down with Olivia Allen to discuss the changing nature of the industry and the nuances of tackling hard-hitting storylines.
Congrats on Tell Me Everything! Can you tell us a bit about your character, Zia?
She’s initially seen as a ‘cool girl’ with a bit of an online following. She’s trying
to learn everything that comes with going viral overnight but as you get to know her, you realise she’s just a very normal person. Cool is such a strange concept anyway.
As an actor, you’ve built up your own following, did this help you relate to Zia?
She’s much better at the whole online influencer and Instagram thing than I am, but I do think it
helped. I gained my following when I was about her age so I understand what it feels like to think, ‘Why do you guys follow me?’ And feeling like you have to portray this perfect, unattainable version of yourself.
Zia’s storyline feels very relevant in 2023. How was playing such a contemporary character?
CW: It’s exciting! As you said, this isn’t really a storyline we get to see very often. It’s also quite daunting because everyone is aware of influencers and what they do and you don’t want it to come across as unrealistic. I wanted to make sure I did it justice and make it seem realistic.
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The show touches on some pretty heavy topics. Were you able to bring your own experiences to that?
With any character I play, it’s always going to require part of myself. It’s easy in a way because you’re processing feelings you’ve had before but hadn’t emoted. It’s tricky as well because you’re hashing out the past and going back to that place and tackling emotions you might not want to deal with.
Were you like Zia at school?
She’s a perfectionist and wants to always show the best side of herself. I was quite like that at school and even now, with the jobs I do, I relate to that. She’s probably a lot better at processing her emotions and standing up for herself than I was. I wish I was a bit more like that when I was younger.
The show has been called 2023’s Skins. How do you think it’s different?
It appeals to a wider range of audiences in a way we haven’t seen that much before. We are very inclusive and diverse. Even a few years ago, it was hard for a lot of people to relate to characters on-screen and I think slowly that’s changing, which is really exciting.
What kind of roles do you want to tackle next?
I love doing period stuff, it’s such a transformative thing because you’re in a different world with these crazy, stunning, beautiful costumes. I’d also love to do something quite gritty and raw, to play a character who isn’t so polished and totally different to what I’ve done before.
Is it hard to strike the balance of providing viewers with a bit of escapism while also tackling tricky topics?
We’re lucky because Mark O’Sullivan, our writer, handled a lot of the tricky subjects with sensitivity and care. He didn’t try to glamourise anything and showed everything in a raw way. As a cast, we knew we were in safe hands and really wanted to make sure what we were doing was real and honest.
Are there any particular conversations you want the show to start?
I want people to be able to see themselves and know that they’re not alone and can reach out to people. You see how wonderful it is having the support of others and that’s what I want people to take away, just knowing you’re not alone and that it gets better.
How have the roles you’ve been offered changed as you’ve gotten older?
As I become more confident in who I am and who I want to be in this industry, the roles that I want to take on are going to change as well. I definitely feel like the industry is changing and telling a wider range of stories that are naturally going to strike a chord with more people. Even ten years ago, the characters being shown all looked the same and had the same backgrounds and way of life. It’s
exciting to be part of this wave of material.
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