Kelly-Anne Lyons: Rocking Auntie's Boat

KELLY-ANNE LYONS IS AN AMERICAN ACTRESS, MODEL AND TELEVISION PRESENTER WHO HAS BEEN LIVING IN LONDON FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS. In this edition, Kelly speaks of the trials of breaking the British TV scene.

By Kelly-Anne Lyons, 3 March 2011

"You're a great actress, but the one corporation who will never hire you as a main character or presenter is the BBC. The BBC just doesn't hire non-English people."

From the moment I arrived on these shores, I have heard these opinions from various industry professionals such as agents, casting directors, producers and anyone else wishing to pass comment.

Therefore, you can obviously see the irony of me landing the lead female role in a BBC series.

I would love to tell you that I became the character "Kelly-Anne Manhattan' because I wanted to prove these cynics wrong and have spent the last three years hounding "Auntie' so I could have the self affirming opportunity to say: "Those people said I couldn't, but I did". But that's not really true.

I will be honest - those moments of wanting to do something simply because I'm told I can't have led to some interesting experiences. A couple of examples include joining an ice hockey team and playing in a paintball game against 40 Danish men. By the way, if you do find yourself in the latter predicament and you'd like to win (and not die) then spend the majority of the game hiding as I did. I stayed well hidden until the end. We all know the ancient stories of the Vikings raping and pillaging.

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Shows such as The Office, The Catherine Tate Show and Monty Python proved to me that England is the place where an aspiring comedic actress should be

Kelly-Anne Lyons

on British comedy

The truth is, these cynics were just being honest and sharing their knowledge of this complicated entertainment business, which is filled with hundreds of obstacles, politics and simply not enough jobs to go around. And despite feeling confident in my ability as an actress, even my biggest supporters were frank with me that unless I was able to prove to the BBC that they must hire me, there would be things going on behind the scenes which would make them employ an English girl instead.

Kelly-Anne Lyons

The BBC has a tendency to shy away from hiring American actresses. Except Kelly-Anne that is.

This business has a lot more rejection than acceptance. Throw in the fact that you're American, and you just lost about 95 per cent of the available castings in London. And I'm not quite ready to try and pretend to be English - remember Dick Van Dyke's cockney accent in Mary Poppins? Yep, my cockney accent is the same, may-te!

So, how did I get my part? What was my super-creative plan to convince them that there was no choice but me? I laced the producer's coffee with happy pills before each audition.

Just kidding. I guess I made them laugh - without the pills...I promise!

And therefore I was blessed to have been granted almost every comedy actors dream - the chance to work with the BBC Comedy team with its rich history and legacy. It doesn't get any better!

Growing up in the States, I found tons of inspiration from BBC shows such as The Office, The Catherine Tate Show and my dad's all-time favourite show, Monty Python. These shows have proved to me that England is the place where an aspiring comedic actress should be.

So I guess the moral of the story is: Sex (being female), Drugs (the lacing of happy pills) and Rock the Boat (an American at the BBC) worked for me, but only combined with following my dreams, versus believing what I was told.

Some may say I'm lucky. Maybe. Or maybe you make your own luck.

You can catch Kelly-Anne on BBC2 at 9am every Saturday morning for Dick and Dom's Funny Business. Children's TV never looked so good.

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