Posted on August 29 2018
This week, we catch up with incredible model and actress Amber Anderson. Amber has appeared in numerous high profile modeling campaigns including an advert for British fashion house Burberry. As an actress, Amber has had roles in Black Mirror, Her Highness, The Riot Club as well as JK Rowling's Strike - The Cuckoo's Calling, among others.
In this interview, we discuss everything from her difficult and creative childhood to female empowerment, and the advice she would give her younger self. Here's her inspiring story:
Newnham: Can you tell us a bit about your background - what were you like growing up? How do you think your childhood shaped you?
Anderson: My childhood was incredibly varied, colourful, chaotic and challenging. I was moved around a lot and had little consistency. I feel like I became more introverted as I grew older, and was a real observer. I would live in my daydreams and loved doing anything creative I could access, whether it was sewing, woodwork or learning my instruments. I think all our childhoods totally shape us and I feel like I’m only just beginning to totally connect to who I am and make sense of what the lessons from my childhood have been.
Newnham: Life wasn’t easy – what led to you starting your modelling and acting career? And how did it change things for you?
Anderson: I was studying Piano at a music school in Aberdeen. It was state funded for kids who had the potential to do well in classical music but who couldn’t afford private school. It was a sort of hodgepodge of geeky, musical kids from all over Scotland, and some from elsewhere internationally. I found it total bliss, but I felt pressure to become the performing pianist everyone wanted me to be.
When I was fourteen, I was randomly scouted to be a model and my whole life changed. As well as discovering I loved it, I saw it as an opportunity to get out of Scotland and carve a life for myself that (in its own way) was non-conformist to what people expected. Perhaps it was my version of a teenage rebellion against my upbringing which was already extremely alternative! Who knows? I did know though, that I’d always wanted to be on stage and I loved acting just as much as playing music. So I got myself an acting agent and simultaneously started that part of my life too. I am so happy that I took that risk and left school when I did. London was a sometimes dangerous place for seventeen year-old me, but my whole life is something I built for myself out of nothing and I am proud I stuck with it.
Newnham: And what have been some career highlights so far? And what type of roles speak to you most?
Anderson: Working on JK Rowling's, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was mind-blowingly exciting. I spent most of my time on set battling with a voice in my head saying that soon enough, someone would come through to explain embarrassingly that they’d made some sort of mistake. Also getting to work with Rowan Atkinson on ‘Maigret’s Dead Man’ for ITV was all the best types of surreal and I learnt a lot about acting in general through watching his performance. I love all types of roles really, although I suppose you’re always looking for something multi-faceted and strong. It’s also a lot about the other actors for me, and how I feel we’ll connect.
Newnham: Last year, you shared your experience with Harvey Weinstein – how important do you think it is for women to continue to tell their stories? And how do you feel the #metoo / #timesup movement on social media has changed gender and power dynamics today?
Anderson: I think it’s incredibly important for people who have been victims of sexual assault or harassment to share their stories if they feel safe to, and I feel that the more the stigma is removed, the safer it will feel.
I’ve noticed the huge difference #metoo and #timesup has made on all levels, and it’s especially made me very happy that people like my dad and other men in my life have come to me with all sorts of questions. It shows that things are changing on a grassroots level and that means a lot. On a professional level, I’ve noticed that people are more aware of themselves and how their words or actions may affect the room, and that’s great. It’s all about a responsibility being taken by the people who have the majority of the power.
Newnham: What’s next for you?
Anderson: I’m off for nine weeks to shoot a movie about a schizophrenic. I’m very excited!
Newnham: And who / what inspires you and why?
Anderson: Really I don’t think I’d be anywhere without my friends - they’re my London family. They’re all brilliant at what they do and are passionate, loving, kind people.
Newnham: Finally what advice would you give a younger Amber - the young girl in Inverness dreaming of her future?
Anderson: I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently... I think I’d just let her know that she is loved. That she doesn’t have to try to impress anyone, that she already has inside her all of the tools she needs to have a really amazing life.
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