We’ve pinned down the very busy Sharon Rooney to talk about her career and, most recently, her role in Disney’s new live action film, Dumbo! Sharon and I have chatted for years and I’ve always wanted to draw her, so thought I’d tie an illustration in with an interview.
I know that from a lot of your social posts you encourage people to follow their dreams. Your dream was clearly acting! How did you go about pursuing a job in the industry?
I do! I love a quote! I always knew it was something I had a desire to do so I left school and went to college to do acting and performance for three years which I LOVED! I had the best time. I signed with my first agent during this time and had a few auditions. I stayed with them through uni and when I got my degree I worked in T.I.E (theatre in education) and toured up and down the UK and Ireland delivering shows in schools about Flood awareness and exams.
Were there any times when you doubted the decision (and if so how did you overcome them) or did you always remain positive?
Occasionally, especially in the beginning as you start to get used to rejection. It takes time to thicken your skin and understand that sometimes you’re just not what they want, and it takes time to learn not to take everything personally. I'm able to now understand that a bit more and move onto the next. I had various auditions and small jobs and then, just as I was about to change career and go into nursing, the audition for MMFD came up and I decided to give it one last chance. My agent's (Ellie and Gary at Troika) are brilliant and they keep me positive and make sure I’m never quiet for too long.
Everyone at Ohh Deer fell in love with you in My Mad Fat Diary how did you find playing Rae and the issues it touches on?
I had the best time playing Rae! It was an honour to bring her to life. I enjoyed the challenges of playing such a complex character and having the opportunity to highlight the issues that Rae and lots of others face.
Do you have a favourite character to play?
I've been so lucky to have played such varied characters. Rae was obviously a massive highlight, but I also REALLY loved playing Barbara in Zapped because she was such a joy.
If anyone has heard you speak as yourself they’ll know that you’re Scottish! Do you find it quite easy to flip between accents? Were any of them particularly difficult?
I LOVE doing an accent, it really helps me to get into character and keep myself separate from them. Miss Atlantis' American accent took me a little time to find but our wonderful dialect coach on Dumbo, Roisin Carty, was amazing and helped me work on it and find her voice.
How do you prepare for a first day on set with any project, is it as nerve racking as I’d imagine?
It definitely is nerve racking because there’s a lot of new faces and names to remember and you always want to start on a great note. I always have a massive bubble bath the night before with a face mask and hair mask, look over my lines and try and chill out. I always go to bed early and lie awake for ages!
It’s time for the Disney questions. What was your favourite thing to shoot in Dumbo?
My favourite thing to shoot was the Baby Mine scene. It was an incredible honour to be asked to sing the song and the day was so special. It's a moment I’ll remember forever.
Was your mermaid outfit awkward to move around in?
So awkward to move in but absolutely stunning! It's an incredible dress and I felt so special in it. Colleen Atwood is a genius and I couldn't have felt more like a mermaid. I even had to shuffle as I walked because it was tight at the bottom, so my two legs almost became one.
What was it like to work alongside the legend that is Danny DeVito?
An absolute dream! He is everything I hoped he would be and more! He's very funny so there was a lot of giggling.
What’s your favourite Disney film from childhood?
What wasn't my favourite Disney film?! I LOVED them all! I had VHS tapes of every film and I’d constantly re-watch them. I loved Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid because I used to love singing along to them. My gran and I loved Dumbo which is where my love of Baby Mine came from because she used to sing it to me.
Which of the live action Disney remakes are you looking forward to most?
Dumbo aside, I’m looking forward to seeing The Lion King!
Have you ever been star struck and if so who was it worst with?
Victoria Wood!!! I was awarded one of the first BAFTA Breakthrough awards and with that you get to pick three mentors. I picked Victoria Wood as one thinking "She won't say yes" but she did!!! We got invited to have tea together and I have never been such a babbling wreck before. She was incredible! I'll always be grateful to have had some time with her. Her advice was first class and I carry it with me.
When you’re working on something for the second or third series like MMFD or Zapped you must build up a great set of working relationships! Do you look forward to seeing a regular group of faces?
It's so lovely and it's usually like you've never been away!
Who do you keep in touch with most from one of your on / off set families?
I keep in touch with most people (unlucky for them, haha). The Zapped family have remained pretty tight and I speak to the Dumbo family most days! I still speak to the MMFD gang, we don't see each often because we're all so busy, but we often message and it's so exciting to see how amazing everyone is doing!!! I've made so many wonderful friends from the crews I’ve been lucky enough to work with! The first thing I do when I get my first call sheet for a new job is scan it to see if there’s anyone I know. It's amazing when you get to work with someone you know, it makes the first day less scary!
Do you have anything on the horizon (you can talk about) that you’re excited to share?
I have a couple of things coming up - none that I can talk about yet, but I'm VERY excited to share when I can!