My London: Actress and Stop Motion Filmmaker Gabriela Hersham

Gabriela Hersham is a British-born actress who has appeared in such works as A Happy Ending and The Burningmoore Incident. She is now undergoing accent training to appear in a New York based film American Gypsy. Here she takes time out from her work to chat about London.

Where are you right now, and what have you been doing?

‘Today started off with a flat tyre in west London at 7:30am, followed by an initial reading for a film I’m doing in central London, another meeting in Shoreditch and finally a trip down to the opening night of Art 14 – one of my favourite of the London art fairs – at Olympia in Earl’s Court.’

What is your favourite area of London?

‘Clerkenwell makes me happy. It’s got such a great buzz to it and it reminds me of New York. On the side of my film projects, I’m launching a company called Huckletree, shared office spaces for startups, and our first space is in Clerkenwell so these days I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time there.’

What is your most vivid London memory?

‘My most vivid childhood memory of London is playing in the playground in Primrose Hill.’

What would your perfect London day out involve?

‘A perfect day out in London would probably take me east. I would spend the day walking around Clerkenwell and heading down Old Street towards Shoreditch. I would take my camera and photograph the street art. I know a lot of the street artists as I put on a street art auction for charity last year, so I enjoy following their work. I’ve been a street art fanatic since I was a kid! Then I’d head to Andina for a big lunch and I’d end the day with a nice bath and early night at the Grand Suite of the Zetter Townhouse.’

What would your perfect London night out involve?

‘A party at Chocolate Towers – my cousin Sera’s house – would be the perfect way to spend any night out in London. Crazy, wonderful people + lots of wine + fairy lights in the garden + good music = late night + hangover.’

What makes London unique?

‘The best thing about London is the people. They are industrious, creative and real.’

Which season do you most enjoy in London?

‘Summertime in London makes me happy. Especially when most people are away and you have the city and the parks to yourself.’

Where in London do you feel most creative?

‘The BFI (British Film Institute) on South Bank is where most of my film meetings take place and being a member means that I always have great access to screenings and previews. I love sitting there and observing the people walking around. And the Reuben Library is fantastic when you have research to do or if you just want to brainstorm with a pen and paper.’

Where in London have you never been, but have always wanted to go?

‘I am yet to be invited inside MI6 despite my many hints for a private, guided tour.’

Who is your favourite Londoner?

‘My cousin Sera Hersham Loftus is one of my favourite Londoners. She’s a real Londoner in the sense that she’s always been here and that London would have a gaping hole in it for a lot of people if she ever left. Ever since I was a child she has always shown me her London; antique hunting at Alfie’s, vintage shopping in Notting Hill, wedding dress hunting at Vivienne Westwood or just a coffee at the local cafe.’

What do you think is London’s best kept secret?

‘I love going to the theatre and I often go to the larger ones but The Print Room Theatre in Notting Hill is my favourite and is a nice little secret to stumble across. They always put on interesting plays and it reminds me of New York.’

Which song, book or film do you think best encapsulates London?

‘A Running Jump, the short film directed by Mike Leigh and commissioned by Film4 and BBC Films for the Olympics is pure brilliance and shows many parts of London for all their glory.’

What do you miss most about London when you’re away?

‘When I’m abroad, the creative energy and the way things work like they should in a big city is what I miss the most about London… and the rain is what I don’t miss!’

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.’

Where would you go in London to revisit your past?

‘In line with above, I tend not to revisit my past although having grown up in this city it’s as much a part of me as I am it. There aren’t many places in London which don’t remind me of my past in some way.’

Where do you go in London to relax?

‘When I want to relax my mind my favourite thing to do is to walk around town listening to my iPod. Again it’s very much a matter of observing people and the city as I walk. It pacifies, intrigues and inspires me.’

Who is your biggest inspiration in life?

‘My grandparents, who have been married 60 years and who still do everything together. It’s such an inspiration to see two people still so dedicated to each other.’

What would you recommend everyone in London do at least once?

‘Everyone should go to Speakers’ Corner and witness the live debates. Speakers’ Corner reminds me that we are living in such a civilised country; a country where everyone has the right to speak their mind so long as what they are saying doesn’t incite hatred in others. Sometimes we take that for granted – and then we’re confronted with countries where people should have the right to speak freely but don’t; or conversely where people are free to indoctrinate the public that a certain subgroup of society is to blame for everything that’s going wrong.’

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

‘The project that’s on my mind right now is an upcoming film I’m in which is a series of vignettes out and around London. One thing I long to see more of is London as the backdrop to good films.’

Happiness is…?

‘Taking my dog to Hyde Park early on a sunny, warm summer’s morning.’

For news and updates on Gabriela’s projects you can connect with Gabriela on @gabrielahersham on Instagram.

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