Dixie takes on the role of Mary Lennox, who after her parents suddenly die, is forced to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (this time played by Colin Firth), on a secluded country estate in deepest 1940s Yorkshire.
Soon she discovers a magical secret garden which provides the escapism she has long needed and yearned for.
It’s half term for 14-year-old Dixie Egerickx and whilst most people her age are knee-deep in the excitement of half term, Dixie is busy promoting her 11th acting credit, (her previous work includes starring alongside Gemma Arterton in Summerland) the movie adaption of the classic children’s book,The Secret Garden.
Here, Dixie discusses why the latest adaption of The Secret Garden is the piece of escapism we ALL need right now, her passion for discussing climate change and why the new film’s take on the characters’ mental health is so important. Dixie is just the kind of young role model who gives you hope for the future…
It’s kind of weird just because they are quite different to be fair! But filming doesn’t take up all my life and similarly school doesn’t take all my life, so it’s not too difficult. I’m lucky because my friends are really nice about it and I’m very grateful for them in a way just because they make everything really normal. They give me stability.
What was the audition process like for you and when did you find out you got it?
It was kind of long. It started off with a self-tape – which I send on my birthday! Then for a few months it went on, I read with other boys who could have played the roles of Dick and Colin, and then I got it. It was quite cool – they just gave me a phone call!
What was probably the funniest moment on set for you?
There were like quite a few funny moments. At the end of the film there’s a scene where we’re all in a lake swimming, me, the boys and the dog. Fozzie, the dog, jumped in and as we were getting out, he shook himself off and made everyone wet. But overall, he was quite a good dog, I’m not going to lie, apart from that!
You got to work with some incredible actors including Julie Walters and Collin Firth – what did you take away from working with them?
It was really cool getting to work with Colin and Julie, because they’re obviously so good at acting and are so professional. I feel like I learned quite a lot just because I didn’t know that there was that much going into a film – there’s so many people, so many jobs and it was kind of crazy to me
What do you think makes this a very 2020 adaption of The Secret Garden?
I feel like the film actually focuses a lot more on the mental health of the characters. It goes deeper into why Mary has had such a bad relationship with her mother which other adaptations don’t really go into. Even the novel doesn’t go in as in-depth. I feel like, especially with the whole pandemic, everyone’s been inside, and I feel like a lot of people’s mental health has definitely suffered so that’s why it might be even more relevant now.
Not enough is done and said about children’s mental health. How do you think you look after your own mental wellbeing and mental health?
Something that’s actually quite important is routine and having a stable, nice group of friends around you, helps. Also, when you feel like, “okay, if you’re not feeling too good,” at some point, recognizing that and saying, “Maybe I should stop and take a break,” from what you need to have a break from. Being able to identify when you need to take a step back from certain things, I think is probably so useful.
Mary is such a strong character – how important do you think it was to breathe that kind of life into this character and how would you define feminism?
It was definitely important to make sure I understood her really well because she’s obviously quite complex and there’s a lot of stuff that she goes through. In terms of feminism, I think it is about equality. It’s not that complicated. It’s just equality and it should be for everyone!
What do you feel like are some of the most pressing issues for you personally?
There’s a lot! But nature is a big part of the film and I think climate change is very important to someone who is young as it is what I’m going to have to grow up in. I think preserving and protecting nature is a big part of it. Equality is so important, too. For example, the Black Lives Matter protests are extremely important. I think with all these things, it’s all well and good saying, “We need to focus more on this,” but something has to actually be done, change actually has to happen. People talking about it more can be used as a force for good.
Do you feel confident in your own voice?
Yeah, somewhat. I think social media has played a very big part in helping me understand things because it’s very easy to just have one person telling you one thing and then you think that’s what’s correct. But if you hear opinions and facts from a number of different sources, you can form your own opinions pretty well.
Social media is a very important tool in informing people and giving young people power because at my age there’s not a lot that I can do to do to help anything. But because social media is very accessible, especially to people like me, it can definitely be used, like I said, as a force for good and change.
What do you want the lasting message of this film adaptation to be?
I think the main one is that everyone is capable of change. With the characters they all go through change to become more positive, better people. But I also think that there’s a huge message of hope and with the pandemic, we need quite a bit of hope right now!