In the ever-evolving entertainment industry landscape, few individuals encapsulate versatility and talent as seamlessly as Bella Glanville. An award-winning actress, accomplished writer, international model, and four-time TED speaker, Glanville’s multifaceted career is a testament to her indomitable spirit and creative prowess.
Standout performances in various noteworthy productions mark Glanville’s presence on the small screen. Notably, she graces the Netflix series ‘A Whole Lifetime,’ portraying the character of Georgina, a role that showcases her depth as an actress. Her charisma extends to the hit series ‘Ted Lasso,’ where she takes on the role of Richard’s girlfriend, adding nuance and charm to the narrative. Further expanding her repertoire, Glanville secures a role in Netflix’s ‘Geek Girl,’ teasing audiences with her diverse acting range.
Adding a layer of intrigue, Glanville embraces a role under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in a well-known blockbuster, heightening anticipation and solidifying her status as an actress trusted with the industry’s best-kept secrets. Her leading role in the upcoming film ‘Deadly Perfect,’ set to premiere in 2023, is poised to captivate audiences and further establish her as a force to be reckoned with in the cinematic realm.
Beyond the silver screen, Glanville proves her mettle in filmmaking with the critically acclaimed short film ‘Push.’ Serving as co-producer and lead actress, she catapults the film into the limelight, earning accolades at prestigious events like the New York Cinematography Awards and the London Film Festival. Her foray into producing underscores her commitment to projects that push creative boundaries and resonate with audiences on a global scale.
Stepping into the role of a TV presenter, Glanville recently hosted the 2023 Urban Music Awards, demonstrating her ability to transition between different facets of the entertainment world seamlessly. Her magnetic stage presence and adept hosting skills contributed to the event’s success, showcasing her versatility beyond acting and filmmaking.
In the fashion realm, Glanville has graced the world’s most prestigious runways and campaigns. With modeling credits that include global brands like Adidas, Stella McCartney, Topshop, Nike, and Vogue, she not only embodies elegance and style but also serves as a sought-after face in the fashion industry.
Beyond the glitz and glamour, Glanville shares her insights and perspectives on diverse topics through the TEDx platform. With four international TEDx talks to her credit, she delves into themes ranging from ‘The Myth of Perfection’ to ‘The Science of Online Dating.’ Her ability to articulate complex ideas with poise and intelligence adds another layer to her public persona, establishing her as a thought leader in addition to her roles in the creative arts.
FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Bella to discuss her journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself?
Of course! I’m an actress and screenwriter, currently based in London, but I plan to relocate to LA in the new year. I’m probably best known for my role as Georgina in Jamie Demetriou’s Netflix show, but I’m often recognised from other shows like Netflix’s Sexy Beasts (which was hilarious to be a part of). In terms of my writing, I filmed the pilot for my own sitcom this year, which is very exciting! We are now in the pitching stages. I am now also working on a feature. I was doing cabaret work alongside acting for a while, and I am now doing professional speaking instead. I have given a few TED talks (my favourite being in America) because I want to use my platform in this industry to make a difference and spread a message.
How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
It’s an unusual answer, but I kind of grew up in this world because my parents were opera singers. I had such a love for musical theatre growing up. When I was a young teenager, I started up a foundation to help kids build confidence, particularly after I had had to learn to do the same thing. I got into that after attending a lot of Tony Robbins events as a kid and eventually becoming a professional speaker myself. The crazy part is that the day I gave my first-ever workshop on self-love was also the day I got scouted to be a model. I spent the next few years modelling, starting out as one of Milk Management’s first-ever models. I then modelled out in Paris, Australia, and Miami for a bit, before returning to the UK. I always did musical theatre whenever I could, but I couldn’t ignore my passion for film. In 2017, I started auditioning for features and writing my own shorts. My degree slowed down the amount I could put into acting, but I occasionally performed in musicals and continued modelling and doing commercials. I got an acting agent in 2020 when I filmed my first feature, of which I was the lead, and the rest is history!
Did you ever use your acting skills in modelling?
Yes, I once did a bridal shoot as a teenager, and I will always remember the make-up artist telling me that I had the ‘face of an actress.’ It was really when I first considered it. They often cast actors in modelling jobs because they need specific emotions or body language expressed. An example of when I did this was for Harlan Coben’s book cover for ‘Runaway’, where I had to play Paige. They threw a lot of powerful acting exercises at me in the casting, even though it was deemed a ‘modelling job.’ I also always wanted to model for Coca-Cola and ended up being the hero in their commercial instead! That was amazing.
With your parents being opera singers, have you ever done any performing or roles together?
My mum actually called me one day with a short film idea, and I knew it would do well. I helped her adapt it to a screenplay and produce it. We both acted in it, and I can proudly say that our short film, ‘Push’, has now won numerous film festivals, including the New York Cinematography Awards and the London Film Festival.
In terms of singing, well.. my mum and I love singing around the kitchen. We once surprised my cousin at his wedding and did a duet together. I’m really lucky to have her as my coach. As for my dad, he is in a band and sometimes he brings me onto stage to sing with him.
Sometimes I do have to do self-tapes with my family. They’re always chaotic, but I love them! We once landed a charity commercial together.
What do you like most about acting?
My degree was in psychology, so I love the fact that I can really get inside the mind of someone else. I have never played a character who is ‘just like me.’ Every character I have played is different, and I love exploring the interests, emotions, and character traits of a completely different person. The more different a character is to me, the more I enjoy playing them. I enjoy a challenge. Or when it comes to theatre, nothing makes me feel more alive than standing on stage and belting out a heart-wrenching ballad, like when I played Jovie in Elf the Musical.
You have done some TV presenting too. Have you had a favourite experience?
Definitely. Working with Louis Theroux, hosting the Urban Music Awards. He is an absolute legend.
How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?
That is a really interesting question… They have a lot of similarities and a lot of differences too. Of course, most shows and features are filmed in a different order from what is seen on screen. But overall, my experience in both has pretty much been the same. Big blockbuster films are more likely to have huge sets and green screens the size of a small town, and a hundred cameras planted around, which you might be less likely to get in something like.. a soap opera.
Generally, I love acting in both. There isn’t a single role that I have done in which I haven’t loved every second of filming.
Do you have any funny stories about being recognised?
I have a great one for this. Whenever someone approaches me in public and remembers me from somewhere, but I don’t remember who they are, I politely say, ‘Oh my god! I haven’t seen you in so long. Where did I last see you again?’ because that helps me figure it out without admitting I have no clue who this person is. Anyway, I was in Freedom in Soho, and this girl saw me and said, ‘Oh my god! It’s you!’. I didn’t recognise her but assumed we knew each other, so I pulled my classic ‘pretending to know them’ line. She then said, ‘No. We’ve never met. I just recognise you from A Whole Lifetime.’ It was so embarrassing – but also flattering!
What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
This is really specific, but I did have to practice learning how to cry on screen. I have definitely mastered it now, and I am really proud of that! But I used to really overthink it – and that was where I was going wrong because when you cry in a scene, you should completely clear your head beforehand, and just go into the scene, as that character, in that moment.
What are your strong points as an actor?
I’d say my biggest strong points are accents, accumulating emotions, using psychology, and being natural. My party trick is doing accents (my favourite being Russian). I also love monologues where a character really builds up their emotions until they finally break. In terms of using psychology, it definitely helps to have a perspective that makes me stand out from others. There was one time I shot a movie that had a schizophrenic character. I actually spoke to the director and told him that some of the script was inaccurate, based on knowledge that I had acquired in my degree. The last thing I mentioned – being natural – is SO important. I was once told by a casting director that too many actors ‘act on top of the lines’, rather than ‘letting the lines do the acting for them’. And that really stuck with me. Everything on camera has to be so natural and minimal because the camera makes everything bigger.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
Take your time with lines without mumbling them. Be super clear with what you are saying so the audience can understand.
If your co-actor behaves in a way you do not expect, just react. Bounce off it. Acting is about re-acting.
If you are thrown off by a new script in an audition, keep eye contact as much as you can with the other reader. Look at your lines only when they are saying theirs.
Reaching a final and not getting the role is often just because you don’t ‘look right’ next to the actor already cast. It’s rarely on your talent.
ALWAYS build your own heat. Don’t wait around for your agent to call you.
What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?
Ha – where to start! This is an industry where we are literally in competition with countless people every day. And I think it makes or breaks you. My way of conquering this is never to compare myself with anyone else. Instead, I think of who I was yesterday and how to be a better version of myself. Another thing is that people will often tell you that they will ‘make you a star.’ Never believe them until you see a contract!
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
If you look at a script, you’ll see that it often gives you nothing and that the lines are entirely up to YOUR interpretation of them until the director comes in. Lines can look very bland sometimes. A really good example is The Office. Look at the pilot of that, and then look at the way Steve Carrell plays Michael Scott. It’s insane! It is almost like a different script, even though he is literally saying the lines as they are written. So you have to decide who your character is and make them use the lines rather than read them. It seems obvious, but you must trust that your interpretation is correct.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
I lead a rather busy life! As I said, building your own heat is really important. So, I spend a lot of time writing, creating, producing, etc. I also sometimes email casting directors, catch up with my agent, have meetings surrounding the sitcom I wrote, go to the gym, hang out with friends, etc… My job is my passion, and it’s how I have fun.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
Oh, there have been so many. I remember being on the train and getting a call from my agent to say that I had been cast in A Whole Lifetime. I was on the train, so I had to stop myself from squealing! Filming on Ted Lasso was also amazing. The cast was so much fun. In terms of my craziest experience, nothing will outdo Sexy Beats. Wearing prosthetics and being a dinosaur (in public) is something I’ll never get to do again.
– Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
Paul Rudd is exactly who you would expect him to be – just the loveliest, bubbliest guy. I loved working with him. I obviously loved working with Sian Clifford and Jamie Demetriou as well. Working with people you have admired for a while is lovely. Funny story – Fleabag was written next door to me by Phoebe and my neighbour, Harry Bradbeer. Sian and I also got trained at the same theatre, and Phoebe and I went to the same school! Although, when I met Sian, I didn’t recognise her at first because she had that hilarious wig on. They did such a great job on the makeup of that show. Also, I told Jamie Demetriou that he inspired my brother to become an estate agent after he watched Stath Lets Flats. He was so confused, understandably. (laughs)
Another person, not that I have worked with her was Billie Eilish. We met in a bar a few months ago in LA. My best friend and I really wanted to speak to her, so I suggested that my friend mention the fact that we were all vegan. Drunk and flustered, my best friend went up to Billie and confidently said, ‘We’re the reason you’re vegan.’ She meant to say it the other way around, and luckily, Billie found it really funny. She then gave me a recommendation for a vegan restaurant for my birthday! Lovely girl.
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Margot Robbie. My idol. My brother actually once bought me a cardboard cutout of her (laughs)!
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
The thing about future plans is that I only want to achieve them because of the feeling I will get from achieving them: being cast in Marvel, having my show filmed in LA, etc. So, I always believe that I am striving for a feeling rather than the goal itself. And my ultimate outcome is just always to be fulfilled. That way, I can always say that I am achieving my ultimate outcome every day.