Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

My Mentor: Noel Clarke

h_00888367.jpg

The actor, writer and director salutes the man who got him into the film industry

I was working as a gym instructor when I met Rikki Beadle-Blair.

I’d always wanted to be an actor, but I could never afford drama school and all that malarkey. Rikki was a writer and director who used to come to the gym
I worked in. I got to know him, and one day I heard he was doing auditions for a Channel 4 show called Metrosexuality, which was based on a play that he’d written.

He gave me my big break.

When I found out about Metrosexuality, I was like, “I’ve always wanted to act, please let me audition.” The part was for a 16-year-old and I was 21, but Rikki said, “If you come prepared and you really work hard for this, I won’t tell Channel 4 how old you are.” So I focused, knuckled down and got the part. They thought I really was 16 [laughs].

Rikki is 100 per cent responsible for my work ethic.

It sounds clichéd, but Rikki taught me that if you’re going to do something, you make sure you are totally prepared. You get things done before they need
to be done – and that’s now my mentality. He gave me that work ethic, that perfectionist attitude. If he hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be where I am now. My first film, Kidulthood, was supposed to have a happy ending. Rikki changed that.

He always read the stuff I wrote and gave me helpful feedback.

I showed him my first script for Kidulthood. He was one of the first people to tell me, “Yeah, this is really good.” Originally, though, in the first draft, I had the character of Trife survive – it had a happy ending. Rikki’s point to me was, “If Trife doesn’t die, you’re essentially saying to young people that you can behave the way these kids behave and everything will be all right.” At first I didn’t get it. I was like, “I want a happy ending!” But he was right – you have to teach young people that there are consequences if you behave like that. Trife had to die; so that’s what ended up in the film.

He helped broaden my mind.

Rikki’s gay, he’s very flamboyant, and he opened my eyes to accepting everyone. When you’re a teenager in Ladbroke Grove, as I was, you don’t know much about different cultures or sexualities. Through him, I got the role in Metrosexuality and I met lots of different people of various backgrounds and orientations, and understood that everybody is human and none of that stuff really matters.

The Anomaly, directed by Noel Clarke, is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 27 October. Chasing Shadows is on ITV now

Related

mentor-p.jpg

Join ShortList's Mentor Project

rankin1.jpg

My Mentor: Rankin

key1.jpg

My Mentor: Tim Key

stephengrahamhero1.jpg

My Mentor: Stephen Graham

dermot-mentor.jpg

My Mentor: Dermot O'Leary

braff.jpg

My Mentor: Zach Braff

More

'Game of Thrones' proves Tormund is one of the smartest characters

He's cleverer than he looks

by Alex Finnis
21 Aug 2017

Neymar is already doing absolutely obscene things at PSG

What an outrageous goal

by Tom Victor
21 Aug 2017

'Game of Thrones' just dropped a gamechanging piece of information

Holy s*** that was a stressful episode

by Alex Finnis
21 Aug 2017

Rick Astley and the Foo Fighters just nailed the best rickroll ever

This version is a proper tune

by Dave Fawbert
21 Aug 2017

How 'Pimp My Ride' predicted the global financial crisis

The most '00s show of all time celebrated reckless excess over sensible pragmatism

by Sam Diss
21 Aug 2017

This chilling 'Game of Thrones' theory about the Night King has legs

There's some quite compelling evidence

by Alex Finnis
21 Aug 2017

15 pictures of Mr. Blobby that sum up your horrible hangover

This is you, it is

by Sam Diss
18 Aug 2017

This new Netflix documentary is quickly becoming a must-watch

It's like nothing you've ever seen before

by Tom Victor
18 Aug 2017

Seth Rogen spills 'Superbad' secrets to celebrate its 10th birthday

Wait... you changed your name to... McLovin?

by Emily Reynolds
18 Aug 2017

The 20 best one-liners from the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Laugh-out-loud funny

by Tom Victor
18 Aug 2017