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Tanya Franks talks to ALRA

Tanya Franks, a successful and talented English actress, as well as one of ALRA's notable graduates, is known for high-profile performances in shows such as Eastenders, Family Affairs, and Broadchurch - which won a BAFTA award for Best Drama in 2014.

Franks is undoubtedly one of TV's regular faces, and we recently had the chance to catch up with her about her exciting stage and film projects, including The Truth, Aux and We Still Steal the Old Way.

The Truth

Last year, Franks starred, alongside Alexander Hanson, Frances O'Connor and Robert Portal, as Laurence in The Truth, written by French playwright, Florian Zeller and adapted by Christopher Hampton.

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This drama tells the story of two unfaithful couples and the web of truth and deception that follows. Following its successful runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Theatre Royal Bath, the hit play transferred to London's West End, showing at Wyndham's Theatre.

Furthermore, critics have deemed the production a laudable one, saying, "The Truth moves with the fluency of a dance that keeps turning on its own heel. It is an entertaining, unsettling, must-see show - there are depths to its shallowness."

Commenting on her role as Laurence, Franks told ALRA:

"The play's about a man [Michel, played by Alexander Hanson] who's having an affair, which you discover from the very top of the play, and I was playing his wife. There were a lot of truths and lies that become apparent throughout the play so it was quite a journey for all four of us".

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When we asked Franks how she prepared herself for the role, she said:

"I suppose it was a little bit of a challenge because I quite often get very working-class characters and this one was pitching much more in the sort of bourgeoisie area. So it was good for me to pitch to that level of society but it's quite different to what I quite often play.

Regardless, it was still quite lovely because I always like a challenge in a character, and I guess for me it was playing that different social status which I particularly enjoyed".


Franks' current projects include the action horror feature film, Aux, presented by London-based production company Evolutionary films.

Aux begins with two young boys who discover a secret military bunker that has remained undetected since World War II where they encounter the nightmarish creature known as 'Aux'.

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Playing the role of Jane Dale, Franks features alongside The Lord of the Rings star, John Rhys-Davies in the film which is now in post-production. We asked Tanya what it was it like to work with Rhys-Davies, this is what she said:

"John is a lovely, warm, generous actor and, while we took it very seriously, we also made sure we had fun with it. It was a good experience and it's always nice working with people that are ahead of you in the game and have been around longer than you.

There's always something to learn from people that are in at a different point in their career and John is one of those - as an actor he's had an illustrious career, so it's great to see someone like him still working in such an instinctive way.

He's very much an instinctive actor and always gave it one hundred percent, so it was great to see that - as an actor - you don't always get jaded as the years go on".

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We also asked Franks if she ever got frightened whilst filming the action horror, to which she replied:

"Not particularly because I wasn't actually part of the most horrific points of the film, so I'll probably be more scared watching it as an audience member!".

We Still Steal the Old Way

Franks also stars as Governor Pryce in We Still Steal the Old Way, the crime drama feature film and sequel to 2014's We Still Kill the Old Way which recently opened in cinemas on Monday, 9th January. The story follows the return of the Archer Gang who deliberately get caught in a daring London heist to get sent to prison with a plot to break out one of their members.

Watch the trailer here (warning: video contains mild violence and swearing).

Commenting on her best and worst experiences while shooting the film, Franks told us:

"I really enjoyed shooting the film! I wouldn't say there were any 'worst experiences' during the project as I enjoyed every moment of being in it. My character is very cold and has to deal with all these older geezers, having to really brave them out. So it was a lot of fun and, again, a great team of people, we definitely had lots of chuckles and laughs.

I guess the 'worst' experience, though I probably shouldn't give it away, is my death scene in it, but this was also one of the best experiences. It's the worst thing that can happen to the character, but a really fun thing to happen to the actor; it was that sort of moment".

Advice for drama students

Franks has been working in the industry for many years, both in the UK and abroad. Thus, we asked her what her best advice for drama students just starting out their career would be, based on her experiences as an actress. Here's what she told us:

"When I first left ALRA, I really threw myself into putting on my own productions. I didn't wait for a telephone to ring to see if I was going to get work straight away, I just went headlong into finding plays and putting plays on myself on the London Fringe.

It's not as easy to do that now as it was then because we used to do it a lot in box office splits and it's not so easy to find a box office split these days.

If there are ways of putting on your own production, to actually start getting out there and getting people to see you rather than just waiting for a phone to ring or an agent to call you, it keeps you productive.

I've always done that through the whole of my career, so even when there's low points as far as work is concerned, I always make sure that I have a project that I'm working on, whether that's developing a script or having ideas to develop something. Sometimes they come to fruition and sometimes they don't, but I think it's always good to keep yourself creative.

So I would say to drama students, don't wait for other people to give you the work but keep creating the work for yourself and keep challenging yourself".

Thank you, Tanya for taking the time to catch up with us, we wish you all the best for the projects you are working on this year and hope you enjoy your holiday in Cuba!

ALRA's notable graduates

As well as Franks, several more of ALRA's graduates are recognised for being some of the industry's most talented professional actors, such as Jimmy Akingbola, known for his role in The CW's Arrow, and Denise Gough, who recently received the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Actress.

For the latest news and updates on what these, as well as our other alumni have been up to, visit our dedicated Alumni page here. If you're an alumni and would like to share your story with us and be featured on our website, please get in touch via email on alumni@alra.co.uk.

All images are credited to Marc Brenner.