Women In Horror Month 2020 Spotlight: Kate Davies-Speak

As we celebrate Women in Horror Month, I had the extreme pleasure of sitting down with the phenomenal actress Kate Davies-Speak, an up and coming British Scream Queen similar to the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver. Kate was born and raised in Bristol, England. Check out what she had to say about her acting career, martial arts, taking time off recently to have a child, Women in Horror, and much more.

Monster: How did you get your start in film and what originally drew you to acting?

Kate: I’ve been a working actor for 20 years. When I finished my A-Levels in college I got involved in a production of ‘West Side Story’ and I fell head over heels in love with it. I played the part of Anita (she’s such a cool character). I loved her sassy manor and I remember battling self-confidence to get up on stage and bring the part to life. Receiving high praise from everyone really motivated me to want to do it a lot more.  I remember people stopping me in the corridor and telling me that I should keep pursuing acting and try for further productions. I was bit by the acting bug, as I’d always been quite shy at school and was mainly just associated with drawing cartoons and keeping myself to myself. So to be praised for performing really woke up a new passion with within me.  After that, I landed my first professional role at the age of 22 and I went off to tour for three months throughout the UK – a production of a musical called ‘Something’s Afoot’ (a murder mystery Musical!). I worked alongside people that had been  in the television industry for many years. I had such a great time, and again it just reinforced how much I was falling in love with acting and performing.  Over the following decade, I went on to be a support worker, helping other people to learn to act and dance and help people with special needs within the subject, but I was always aching to get back out and do some more performing work,so I joined the English Theatre Company and I was working mainly based in Sitges (near Barcelona). I was touring throughout Europe, mainly in Spain and Portugal, and that’s where I met my husband Steve and acting just became a huge part of both of our lives. During my theatre tours I was performing roughly four shows a day, every day of the week, which although I loved it, when I came back to England in 2012 I wanted to try something quite different, and that’s when I started looking more into doing screen acting. Screen acting itself is such a different type of acting but I kind of found a whole new passion for it. After that I just really hammered away applying for any TV and film productions that came along whether it was in student films, indie features, or even people just wanting to experiment with new cameras. I just wanted to be part of it so I could try to learn the craft. I’ve always found I learned through getting up and doing things.

Monster: You’re a certified fitness instructor and a practitioner of combat fighting techniques that you utilize in the roles and with characters that you portray on screen. Can you tell us a little more about that and what exactly it is that you do? 

Kate: Health and fitness is always been a huge part of my life I think I take after my Mum for that. I was always running even when I was a little kid, and I took quite a little passion into keeping Fit,  running,  playing sports; basketball, dancing and eventually in my teens I got into doing more martial arts. I just really enjoyed it. I started off doing a bit of boxer-size and then found out was maybe a little bit too aggressive and I wanted to learn more about specific martial art styles, so I took up Tang Soo Do Korean Karate which I did for quite a few years. During drama training at college, I trained in screen combat, which was a lot of fun for me and I loved seeing how you could make things look more aggressive than they actually were, tricking the audience into believing we were actually hurting each other. I qualified as a personal trainer about five years ago I often experimented on myself in terms of what I could do with my physique; so I’d train my muscles to try and look more ripped. I’ve always inspired by Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 and how her body transition really brought the character to life and made women admire her as an icon. I loved her as a really tough iconic female in film, and I wanted to have a little flavour of that myself, so it was always a motivation for me when I was hitting weights and in training outside, and even when I train other people I just enjoy motivating and being motivated. Even at a very young age, when I was a little girl, I looked up to you tougher women. When I’ve taken on roles for the screen, I would make sure that was my vibe as well.  Working as a fitness instructor is also really cool because it means I’ve still got the time and freedom to go away and take acting projects when they come up. It’s not not easy for actors to have the second job but I wanted to make sure that I had one that worked well with acting and I’ve been quite lucky.  On some sets I even offered to do some fitness routines with some of the other cast and crew just to get psyched up before we shoot. Everyone seemed to enjoy that. It’s good to kind of approach role with mind body and soul.

Monster: How did you find your way into horror and what do you love most about the genre?

Kate: I was always a fan of the horror genre when I was a child, watching horror films probably before I was old enough to do so. I specifically remember watching ‘Halloween‘ ‘American Werewolf in London‘ and ‘Terminator‘ and being terrified but also wanting to keep coming back for more, and it just became a bit of an obsession for me growing up. I’ve never been so scared that I’ve been unable to watch horror and I also always loved scary video games, they actually often terrified me more than films, especially ‘Resident Evil 7 VR‘. Working in horror in incredible fun. I remember shooting a film called ‘Beautiful People‘ (Italian horror film) out in Northern Italy, and we were shooting a scene and being chased by monsters and I turned to one of the actors saying “I’m literally living my dream here”. I also find the horror community is really supportive and those who understand in particular how independent films are made, are really incredible. It’s a real delight to share our work at events such as ‘Frightfest‘ and ‘Horror-On-Sea‘ because everyone understands the passion for the genre. They’ve seen a lot and they appreciate all the small things such as; practical effects and the gore, the homages to past movies and also that horror is something you can accomplish on the lower budget, still achieving some great results…and I love being part of that! I’ve met some brilliant people along the way.

Monster: As we celebrate Women In Horror Month, how important is it to continue to have strong diverse female leads represented in film, and what does WIHM mean to you?

Kate: I think Women In Horror Month is amazing! I always idolised women in horror, one actress in particular is Neve Campbell who played Sydney Prescott in ‘Scream‘ and to be part of that or to even be considered as a woman in horror (I love the term ‘final girl) is a true honor. Monster: Who are some of your inspirations and influences when it comes to acting and film?

Kate
: All actors have a mark that we want to make in something, and to be remembered for, and I’m more than happy for mine to be the horror genre. I think it’s great that some of the more recent horrors have really shown proactive, strong, tough females fighting back or even sometimes being a villain as well, and it’s something I really enjoy. Another favorite of mine ‘The Descent‘ by Neil Marshall. The cast were excellent and had such great, dynamic, brilliant acting, then the horror and monsters were thrown in and they were able to show what they were made of. I enjoyed this film because it’s important for me to see really credible fantastic actors working  in horror. You get it even more so now with the likes of ‘Midsommar‘, ‘Hereditary‘ and ‘Get Out‘. They all have terrific cast and performances that elevate the genre so much, and brings it into A-List territory. Florence Pugh is one of my current favourite actresses, especially when I saw her performance in ‘Midsommar‘ which I think she was incredible in. Not only is she an amazing actress and really charismatic, she really brings the best out of all the other actors around her. I could literally watch her in anything, but to be able to bring that level of performance into horror was really important for the genre because it goes against the grain of hammy acting, and brought a realism rarely seen in a scary film.  Toni Collete too for ‘Hereditary‘, her grief and pain were so real and so raw and really brought the trauma so incredibly and realistically- that’s exactly what I always try to tell people that professional actors working in horror still have to be good at what we do, and fill the drama and bring characters to life. Monster: What are a few of your favorite characters that you’ve portrayed, and what type of roles are you interested in tackling in the future?


Kate
: I was excited to play the character of Jessica in ‘Escape From Cannibal Farm’ and loved bringing her to life because her journey throughout the film just changed so much throughout the story. Starting out as a slightly bratty early 20-year-old sister/daughter who then evolved into a victim (portraying fear, trauma and resilience), and then who took that further into the realm of crazy before transforming into the quintessential ‘Final Girl’, I just really felt like I had this whole journey mapped out with that character and that’s what I loved about playing her. I also really enjoyed playing Kat in ‘The Barge People‘, which was written by my friend Christopher Lombard. She was to me the most realistic character I’ve played in a horror movie, trying to say and do believable things within the crazy circumstances. Although she was being pursued by monsters she was still at heart just a normal city girl, not an action hero, simply trying to have a break with her partner to rekindle a bond and relationship with her younger sister whilst dealing with the grief of losing her mother and protectively-struggling to hold her friends and family together.

Drama work that I have always have a hankering to play would be someone like a police officer or detective.  I loved the character of Deborah Morgan in the TV series ‘Dexter‘ and that’s definitely something that appeals to me, a woman who is intelligent and strong but certainly with more to her, a vulnerability and interesting back story. Monster: Do you have any special projects currently in the works that you’d like to share with fans?

Kate: In terms of future projects, I’m currently working on two films; one is a werewolf film and the other is a more comedic spoofy ‘Ghostbusters‘ type of film.  I’m actually just getting back into it all after taking a year off to have a baby, so I’m seeing what kind of roles come my way and seeing what my newlife experience can add to my performance. I will be scouting about soon for further work and for the opportunity to connect and work with many different people, and of course re-connect with those that I worked with previously.

Thanks for taking the time to ask me questions, it’s really nice that people have taken an interest and I’m very proud to be asked things regarding Women In Horror. I think it’s wonderful and I’d like to give a big shout out of love to all the other amazing women in horror. Thank you.

Posted by Donovan Smith

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