As I sit nestled in the plushest of sofas in London’s Soho Hotel with Sorcha Groundsell it is clear that she is literally and metaphorically sparkling right now. “This is my best sequin life,” she exclaims, excitedly rubbing her hands up and down her iridescent sequin Chanel two-piece. But the Chanel life chose her and akin to a young child who is proudly showing off their first party dress, Sorcha says, “I just try not to spill anything on it or break it – it’s so very stressful! I feel a bit surreal about it, I keep expecting them to call me up and be like, ‘actually we were joking can we have all of our stuff back!’” First world Chanel problems.
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The reason why Chanel are so keen to align themselves with this young Scot is because Sorcha is on the verge of quite the career breakthrough, leading Netflix’s next stellar hit, The Innocents. Playing runaway teen June, who discovers she has the quite annoying habit of shape shifting. It’s gritty, it’s intense AF and it’s the opposite of her joyful sparkling sequins.
Sorcha, in amongst the buzz that swirls around her is preparing for stardom by burying her head in the sand, however, “I am ignoring it and pretending it’s not happening! Maybe I’m being a bit naïve, but I don’t think anything will change. It just might be easier to get jobs in future – I hope!” Pragmatic and showing herself to be a little bit of all of us, she continues, “as a young unemployed actor you don’t get the chance to be in these many scenes that often.”
But what attracted Sorcha to the role wasn’t just the chance to earn actual dollar, her excitement came from getting to play a fully-fledged female character – which even in 2018 is still a rarity, “I was just so excited to read about a young female character that was interesting, that had flaws and complexities. She has her own very specific journey that isn’t in relation to her being daughter or a girlfriend or a student. She is figuring herself out, it’s a very fascinating point in time to see a young person’s evolution.”
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What sets The Innocents apart from other thrillers is exactly that; it manages to create pulsating suspense whilst presenting us with a cast of characters – including Sorcha’s co-star, Percelle Ascott – who are truly representative of the world we actually live in. Something we have been missing, and something that Sorcha feels she didn’t have on TV growing up.
“I mean I did live somewhere with like two TV channels, but I do wonder what it would have been like to have Wonder Woman when I was growing up. I think for a lot of people that would have really changed the way they saw themselves and what they thought they were capable of. Films like that and shows like The Innocents actually show people that there isn’t just one way to be a young girl and, yes, it can be difficult, there are challenges and there are complexities but that’s a good thing, that’s part of the journey and it’s worth seeing. It’s worth having that journey and that journey should not just be for men”. Yes gurl!
Sitting and listening to Sorcha it is literally bat-sh*t crazy to think she is just 20-years old. I was dancing around poles, drinking £1 Jaeger Bombs and barely doing a degree at her age. In comparison, Sorcha is firmly placing herself amongst the ‘woke Hollywood’ movement. With this equally fierce and flawed character, Sorcha delivers a performance that is needed for an impressionable audience – regardless of gender. Something Sorcha agrees with – “when you look at Emma Watson’s HeForShe movement, I think that is at the core of what needs to be changed. There is a lazy definition of feminism that it’s not just for women but it’s for guys, too – it’s not just a female issue. Everyone’s got a Mum or Sister, or girlfriend or best friend, and equality is good for everyone. It’s not just good for women.” Can we can some claps up in here?!
Boiling over with talent and sense of self far beyond her years, it couldn’t be a better time for Sorcha to be entering the entertainment industry. The timing is not lost on the actress herself; “I think the conversations in Hollywood at the moment are laying down a new format for women coming into the industry now. If Jessica Chastain talks about pay equality, then someone in my position can look at that and think ‘actually that is something I should be paying attention to’. Those women are showing me that there is a way to get in the conversion and handle these issues. If someone behaves badly towards you, here are these stories and examples of how you can handle that. They give you reassurance that it’s not just you.”
A true sense of self may appear to be an innate trait of Groundsell’s – a self-confessed “over thinker”, – but being at one with her voice within hasn’t always come easily, as Sorcha shares. “The best piece of advice I have been give is, you need to remember that your voice is valid. When we feel like the underdog or we feel insecure in our circumstances, we forget that we still have a right to speak up. I think being young and female – and Scottish because we’re not that confident as a nation – that doesn’t come naturally so I’m kind of being trained into respecting the fact that I have something to say and something to give.” There lies a lesson for us all.
The experience of watching an episode of The Innocents is a testing one. It’s akin to being thrown into a washing machine for an hour and then put on a supersonic drying cycle, AKA it’s offers a level of intensity that could resurrect the dead. If I feel like I needed to lay in a dark room after watching one episode, how did Sorcha cope with the filming process I wonder, “I pushed myself to the limit – your brain knows it’s not real, but your body doesn’t. My makeup artist was very good at drawing me away saying, ‘no, you need to have a break, you need to snap out of this mentality.’ But in a way that’s part of the practice too. First of all, it’s getting there and then the next lesson you need to learn is where your limits are – because it impacts your psyche a lot being in that place.”