For the Love of Entertaining: A Conversation with Game of Thrones + Virtual Reality star Emma Bryant
Emma grew up in a small village near Bristol, where she attended school and gained straight A and A*’s GCSE and A Level qualifications, whilst also attending theatre classes for five years, whilst starring in several musical productions, including “Oliver Twist” and “A Midsummer Night’ Dream”. She got her first part time job at the age of 17 in an electronics shop, working as an assistant.
Soon after, she undertook a training course in marketing and business management, gaining two advanced diplomas, followed by a full time sales management role for a prestigious insurance firm based in the South West. Whilst attending a runway show in Cardiff, she was scouted by a talent agency and soon after featured in several regional catalogues, modelling women’s fashions and accessories. This soon progressed into regular part time work, and eventually a full time role, when the insurance firm she worked for relocated to London, she was invited to keep her role and relocate with them, however this was not possible. She went on to enjoy a successful career in the modelling industry, having worked for established companies such as Playboy, Hustler and Page 3 of The Sun newspaper.
It was through experiencing personal tragedy in the form of a severely abusive relationship that she further realised her true passion was not for posing and looking pretty in front of the camera, but in fact for entertaining, and making people laugh. Through her many contacts gained through modelling and previous theatre training, she secured small supporting roles in Season 4 of Game Of Thrones, Brit feature film “FILTH”, which also stars James McAvoy, and several independent films.
She also proudly holds the title of Britain’s only female professional “Prankster”, having performed in many viral hidden camera pranks for popular YouTube channels. Several national tabloids including The Daily Mirror and The Sun have written features about her battle to overcome domestic violence and pursue her dream career in acting and comedy. She has also gained the attention of online entertainment websites “LAD Bible” and “UniLad”, who have published several articles praising her comedy videos and career/lifestyle transition. Emma’s story also reached her local newspaper, the Crawley News, who she is now also a columnist for. She also recently established herself as a freelance writer, regularly submitting pieces to several online and printed publications of various genres.
In 2016, she was elected as a spokesperson for the women’s charity, Refuge UK, speaking of her experiences of surviving domestic abuse, and encouraging other women to share their stories.
Emma currently works full time in the entertainment industry, and has been cast by ERA Film Studios, and CryptTV UK (The UK branch of Eli Roth’s Crypt TV) as both an operations manager and actress/presenter. She has recently completed two features shot entirely in virtual reality, playing the lead female in both productions.
In our candid interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Marc Jason Ali caught up with friend of The Fan Carpet Emma Bryant about her career, how she got started in the Entertainment Industry, her involvement with VR and YouTube and working in Stand-up Comedy…
If we go back to the beginning, was there a defining moment for you to get into the Film Industry?
Hi Marc, and thanks for having me back on The Fan Carpet! I am actually very glad you asked me this question, as there appears to have been some confusion in previous media articles I have partook in, about how I became involved with the film and comedy industry.
Ever since I was around nine years of age, I wanted to be an actress and comedian. However, coming from a highly academic background, I found myself falling into studying law and business management at a young age. By the time I was 21 years old, I was managing an office of insurance salespeople, which I enjoyed, but I always knew I wanted to do more!
I decided that I initially wanted to pursue something wacky and unconventional, in order to get my name out there, and get a jump start to my acting/comedy career, as I knew that to take a more conventional route, for example years of drama/theatre school, would take much longer, plus be costly, and that I may not even get anywhere at the end of it. I already had a few business contacts in the glamour/adult modelling industry, so thought, “Oh snuffle it- this seems a weird and wonderful career kickstart if ever there was one!”. Now, this is where previously, the media have annoyingly gotten things wrong- It has been written that I entered the industry to “feel accepted”, which is UNTRUE (to feel accepted as part of what is yet to be known to me). It was always part of what I refer to as a five year career plan, and there is even a piece of paper from March 2013, which I believe currently resides deep in the murky depths of my mum’s attic, stating that within five years, I would have used the industry to gain exposure (and hopefully a hefty savings fund) and then transition into mainstream. Guess what? Despite experiencing a few major, tragic setbacks and hardships throughout my time in the adult biz, I was able to achieve my goals within just over THREE years!
Call me big headed (Which I have no doubt many will) but I think that’s pretty damn snuggly!!) However, whilst I wasn’t anticipating the horrible times and toxic individuals I encountered during my time in the glamour/adult industry, I also wasn’t anticipating all the wonderful people I met, plus have been (and still am) lucky enough to call some of my closest friends! Also, just feeling that I should point out that I am no way speaking derogatorily about anyone who enters that line of work due to peer pressure or the need to seek acceptance, it is just not true to MY journey, and if people are to write about me, I would prefer their facts to be as correct as possible!
Anyhow, my apologies for the above paragraph being so long, I just wanted to give my background on how I entered the film and comedy industry! Now to finally answer the original question. I would say my defining moments were on two occasions; the first being December 2014 when I spent Christmas and Boxing Day at A&E in hospital, as a result of doing something very silly to myself, whilst in the midst of a severely abusive relationship with a man I met through the adult industry.
This was the period when I knew I had to make some major changes to my lifestyle, and decided that when I was well enough to go home, I would put all my efforts into leaving my abusive partner, and also the adult biz, and focusing entirely on my career transition. The second defining moment would be the day I finally moved out of my house in Kent, where I had lived through the majority of my “bad times”, and moved to West Sussex to pursue film and comedy full time! I knew I was fully moving on from my past, the minute I shut my old front door for the final time, as I was leaving the pain & sadness there with it also.
Something else I think stands out to me in my career to date, is the fact that I have been very willingly accepted into the mainstream film and comedy industry, even though I feel that with my backstory, I need to work extra hard to gain respect and taken seriously. There have only been a couple of occasions where I have been maliciously made to feel less worthy or respectable than others.
Oh and not forgetting the fact I went on to star in Game Of Thrones, which is something I never ever talk about, Like everrrrrrrrr!!
As you said, you appeared in Game of Thrones, what can you tell us about your experience?
Well first off, yes everybody I was in none other than the legendary HBO television show, GAME OF THRONES….. which you probably wouldn’t know, seeing as I never ever speak about, or try to milk the shit out of it, like never ever in my entire life!!
Joking aside, the first thing I can tell you about my GOT shenanigans, was that I REALLY should have at least done a tiny bit of research on the show, providing that at the very minimum, I would be able to identify the main cast when I met them! One of the other actresses on the set found it hilarious that I casually strolled over to the food table, and proceeded to slyly steal the last cheese sandwich from under the nose of a guy who was clearly eyeing it up…. A guy who was apparently one of the most important cast members! Something tells me however, that he won’t be crying too hard into his paycheck over the elusive savoury snack.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the set in Belfast, even if it did take a good eight or more hours to film one 10-15 minute scene!! I met some lovely people, and let’s face it, it ain’t too bad a credit to whack on my actor’s CV now, is it?! The whole experience also makes for some excellent comedy material. For example, on IMDb someone made a list of the “89 Most Sexy People In Game Of Thrones”…. I was number 88. After scrolling through the list of those deemed more worthy than myself, I drew the conclusion that I was considered less appealing than an elf, an elderly wizard, and several blank outlines of random people’s heads. Marvellous!
You’re heavily involved with VR, what can you tell us about this exciting new technology and how you got involved?
I will admit that I had next to no knowledge of VR until I began working alongside ERA Film Studios, the film production company who are responsible for the release of the first British feature film ever to be shot entirely in Virtual Reality, “The London Detective”, which I have had SO much fun working on over the previous two years, in the lead female role!
It has without a doubt been a fantastic learning journey, as I have gained a lot of experience not just in front of the camera, but behind it too! I have also been informed on more than one occasion (and there is legitimate, factual evidence to back this up) that I have starred in more virtual reality productions (both features and shorts) than any actress in the world…. THE MOTHERSNUFFLIN’ WORLD!! Let’s face it though, who WOULDN’T want to see the infamous Bristolian big nose in all it’s wonky glory?! Seriously though, it is a great honour to be able to state this!
I do believe that VR will be the future of Gaming/ Film/ TV and even studying etc, due to the limitless possibilities it holds. Horror in VR is particularly fun, I was lucky enough thanks to ERA Film Studios to be cast as a lead actress in their Halloween 2017 project “31 Nights Of VR Horror”, which was amazing fun, and genuinely quite scary at times! I have also had a few of my stand up comedy shows filmed in VR, which is great fun, as I can get to see the entire audience’s reactions afterwards…. At one of my gigs, some dude came up to me and started being critical of my jokes, claiming that he had heard one of them before by a different comedian (Which would be a little worrying, given the offending piece centred around having five cats, and shooting a Page 3 spread for the tabloids about being in Game Of Thrones…. If another person has this on their resume, let alone another f’ing comedian, then I have a bone to pick with them, as I’ve always believed that just like Tigger from Winnie The Pooh, I am the only one!!) anyhow, this was soon nippled in the Buddha upon watching the footage of my show back, when I could see that he spent the first five minutes eating his Burger King meal, and then appeared to go outside to smoke for the rest of the show, thus proving that he was just chattin’ shit, and probably didn’t even listen to 90% of my set! idiot!
I hope to continue working in high quality virtual reality productions, and after a little more practice, would love to direct my own production one day, preferably a comedy and/or some prank videos, as I am also Britain’s (and more than likely the world’s) only professional female hidden camera “prankster”, and performed a very fun Father’s Day prank filmed in VR with my friend last year, who is very well known in the cosplay community (Which you can watch on my YouTube (Link below.)
You’re well known on YouTube, how did you get involved with that?
Well it’s actually quite a grim (and somewhat inspiring from what I’ve been told) story that began in 2013. At that point I just set up a YouTube channel for fun, to document the places I was travelling, and days spent with my family and friends. I didn’t really do much with it, until just after Christmas 2014 when I was recovering at home after my time in hospital. I was watching stand up comedy and prank videos, and feeling that my original aim of working in the mainstream industry was almost impossible to now achieve. I watched hours of videos, and the more time spent doing this, the more I knew that getting back on track to reach my goals was the only way I was going to defeat, and make a full recovery from the depressive and self harming state I had fallen into.
I knew I was more than capable of performing in crazy, outrageous prank videos like the ones I had seen, so I contacted the biggest prank channel in the UK, and gave them my best pitch about why I would be perfect for their team…. I had no previous examples of my own pranks to show them, but after a very energetic phone call, I scheduled my first day filming with them for the following week!
I did not look back after that, I was an absolute natural in front of the (hidden) camera, and went on to film many more prank videos with all the most popular British YouTube channels. I also began filming my own vlogs and sketches with other actors and comedians, which was so much fun! Oh and I just want to point out that I in no way used my sexuality in my comedy videos, like I am aware many females who make comedy videos do…. All my videos are over the top silly and outrageous! Although saying that, I did do a 50 Shades Of Grey prank, which in itself could be considered somewhat “sexy”, but I can guarantee that anyone with this belief would soon be changing their minds after watching the video…. I was even barred from a department store for it! I am actually barred from a few places in London, including various art galleries, a furniture store, and a random hippy pub in Shoreditch. As you do.
I also film all of my stand up shows for my YouTube channel as well, which has been beneficial when applying to perform at other venues! Also, several of my YouTube videos have gained viral news coverage, mainly consisting of public “social experiments” and vlogs about my experiences with domestic violence.
What is your preferred genre, and do you have any favourite films?
Well obviously I adore comedy films, and would love to star in one, one day! I think I would struggle a little to find the right role however, as the comedy industry is predominantly made up of male actors/ comics, and I do not fit the stereotypical given female role of the frustrated partner/ attractive girl etc… I would want to be performing the crazy, quirky, “out there” role that males are nearly always given! I have been told on more than one occasion that I remind people of a female Rik Mayall, which I see as a massive compliment!! My favourite comedy films at the moment are “The House”, “Why Him?”, “The Interview” and “Drop Dead Fred” (Classic!)
I also have always enjoyed horror films, although I think there are too many with similar plots/ characters nowadays…. It kind of feels like watching the same films, but with a mix up of different cast! (Although of course this isn’t the case for all horrors; there are some amazing ones out there!) I would say my favourite horror films are the SAW and Insidious franchises, plus I also enjoyed the second “Conjuring” (The Enfield Haunting) and “The Visit” really freaks me out, even though it contains next to no gore or violence!
You have an eclectic range of credits from Stage to TV to Film, are there any genres that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?
I love performing in front of a live audience, and am obsessed with WWE wrestling…. Now I am not overly physically strong, but I would LOVE to be involved in over the top dramatic live sports entertainment in some way, and no that does NOT include being a ring girl or any form of background eye candy! I think I would make a great MC or “manager” character, as I would be great on the mic, although I am actually planning to take up some form of MMA training, plus I am pretty flexible, so who knows maybe I could be a future WWE Diva?!
You’ve worked with a great crop of talent, do you have a wish list of who you’d like to work with?
I don’t have a “wishlist” as such of actors/ actresses I would like to work with, but I have been very lucky to have worked with great British talent such as James McAvoy and Leslie Grantham (RIP). I also performed a stand up set at the premiere of one of Leslie’s final films, which was an honour!
I know it is a sensitive subject, but you’re having surgery soon what are you comfortable telling us about that?
Yes, by the time this interview is published I will have had the operation. It is emergency facial surgery as the result of my ex partner attacking me when England got knocked out of the 2014 World Cup. I asked him for a cuddle during the match, and he concluded that somehow, this was a conspiracy to cause England to lose, and that the only rational solution was to push me down the stairs and slam a metal door into my face.
Three of my front teeth got knocked out in the process, so when I went to hospital straight after, this was the priority, as I needed to have that dealt with asap, else I would have had no front teeth! Over the next year I had no real pains in my mouth or face, and had regular check ups at the dentist (every six months) with no problems being detected. However, in 2016, I began getting facial pain and my cheeks would randomly swell up. I went to the doctors numerous times, only to be given antibiotics and told it was flu, a migraine or a sinus infection, there is a history of really bad sinusitis and migraines in my family, so I accepted this to be a sensible explanation. This happened on and off until early 2018, when I had a particularly bad flare up and felt as though my mouth was on fire. I went to a different doctor’s surgery, who refereed me to Croydon hospital for some facial scans.
In the mean time I also went to a different private dentist, who told me that four of my back teeth were split all the way to the root and were all infected! I was really upset, as I have always looked after my teeth; I did not smoke, and brushed/ used mouthwash twice a day, and also used interdental brushes every day too. The dentist informed me that this was definitely not caused by neglect, and asked me if I’d had any impact to my mouth recently. I was shocked as I told him about the incident in 2014, and he confirmed that this was the cause, and that he was shocked my dentist in Kent, and then my regular Crawley dentist, had not picked up on it!
The following week I went to my hospital appointment to be informed that some small bones in my lower cheeks and upper jaw had been dislodged (also from the impact of my ex slamming the door into me) and were protruding into my gums, also causing infection and pain.
I remember my mind going almost blank as they were telling me, so I missed some of what was said about this next part, but the nurse told me that some of the bone that was sticking into my gums would need to be removed at the same time as my teeth, as the tooth extractions would be impossible to do otherwise, therefore I would need two surgical procedures. I have already had one, which was horrendous as it went wrong somehow and I was in the room for three hours whilst they tried to stitch up the inside of the left side of my mouth.
Thankfully, I was then told I could have the remaining procedures done at a hospital in London, which I have already been to for a consultation and really liked! As I write this, it is four more days until my “big” surgery, and as weird as this may sound, I actually cannot wait! For the first time in four whole years, I will finally have a healthy face and mouth! Oh, and I will still look exactly the same on the outside, as my main cheekbone structure etc. is still in tact with no issues, it is just the bone around my mouth and upper jaw that are the problem!
It’s important to shine a light on these subjects, especially in the midst of the #MeToo Movement, do you see yourself as a role model?
Well I personally don’t see it, but the national press have labelled me “inspirational” and “brave”, as have many of my online “followers”, so I guess perhaps I should listen to the good people! I wouldn’t quite say I think I am a great role model, I wouldn’t encourage women to take my exact career route, but I hope my blogs about my own domestic violence experiences can at least help in some way, even if it is just for other women to recognise similar personality traits in their own abusers, and to know that they can escape and go on to be happy!
With the emergence of streaming services like Netflix, what do you think the future of Cinema is?
I highly doubt the actual physical cinema (e.g Cineworld etc.) will ever die out completely, as great and convenient as it is to be able to watch near enough anything you like from your own home at any time, there will always be something exciting and unique about the whole experience of physically going to the cinema to watch a film, in my opinion.
In Crawley where I live, the Cineworld is always packed with people, especially on a weekend! I do think Virtual Reality will be a major part of future cinema, quite possibly where everyone is sat down like in a “normal” film screening, but they all have headsets on. I think this would be pretty cool, but I do feel it would take away the social or romantic aspect a bit, as it would be much more difficult to interact with whoever you came there with, due to being isolated inside the headset!
Thanks very much for reading my looooooong ramblings, and do be sure to snuffle on over to my social media, if for some strange reason, you want to keep up to date on all my stuff and nonsense!