Actress Karla Crome On Twitter Trolls, Gen-Y, and The Hunger Games

Her careers reads like a top night in front of the TV.

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Karla Crome is not your average actress. She lives at home for one, she unapologetically checks Twitter for her reviews, she loves The Hunger Games, and The Muppets Christmas Carol, and her favourite piece of clothing is a grey jumper with a bulldog on it. 

If you don't recognise her, you've obviously not spent enough time on your sofa as her career reads like a top night in front of the TV. She played the loudmouth Misfit, Jess, in the Channel 4 hit TV series, a runaway bigamist in You, Me and The Apocalyse and starred alongside Chloë Sevigny in the ground-breaking Sky Atlantic drama about life as a transgender woman, Hit and Miss. Karla is now portraying Generation-Y through her new character Alice; the unhopeful, onesie-wearing daughter in Penelope Skinner’s theatre production, Linda.

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She has encapsulated strong women on screen and – even thought she is careful not to dole out proclamations – the actress laments the realities of an industry with a 92% unemployment rate and deep representational issues, while showing gratitude and joy in terms of her own success.

Here, she tells ELLE about the virtues of theatre acting, why television needs more race and gender diversity and, why Gen-Y is desperate to avoid emulating their parents...

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You’re back in the theatre for the stage production Linda – how’s it going?

Really well! Obviously we lost Kim [Cattrall] early on because she wasn’t well but Noma stepped in and saved us! It was very brave. She’s been so cool about it even though the last week has been heavy going for all of us!

How does it compare to acting for television?

It’s a different discipline entirely and they each have their own virtues. They both require honest portrayals so they’re similar in that sense. The great thing about theatre is that the performance develops over the run – it changes each time. You can riff off that. You get to recreate your performance each night and you get such an immediate reaction. With TV, you film something and have to wait six months to scrawl through Twitter to see what people think.

You’ve got theatrical training which comes with a certain prestige – is it nice to be back?

Some people think all young actors should come up through the ranks of theatre. I don’t necessarily think that’s true.  Actually, you take different roles in different contexts for different reasons. This industry has 92% unemployment so sometimes you have to take the jobs you’re offered. If you’re in the lucky position where you get to choose between jobs, young actors should be able to turn roles down at their discretion.

Tell us about your character, Alice.

Alice is 25-years-old. When we meet her she’s wearing this grubby skunk onesie that she’s had on for sometime. We can only assume she takes it off to shower and use the toilet but who knows? She has quite an unhappy life. Alice is the antithesis to Linda; the high powered successful mum. We’re all influenced by our parents in some way, aren’t we? But at the same time we don’t want to turn into a version of them and that’s true for Alice. Linda is a self-made woman who’s worked for her perfect life and Alice is Generation-Y: She got into university through clearing, got a pointless degree and is now living at home. We can all empathise. I mean, I’m 27-years-old and I still live at home.

Your character in Misfits could read people’s minds – would that be your choice superpower?

Oh, no! I don’t want to act like a sage because I’m only 27 but as I get older I’m beginning to think only nice opinions should be shared. The rest is so deconstructive. I just want to give love and support to people I care about.

I bet you were happy to ditch Jess’ orange jumpsuit. What’s the most prized item in your wardrobe?

A Bundy and Webster jumper. It’s huge and grey and has a bulldog on it. It’s so comfy!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My mum once told me that if I get overwhelmed and have too much on my plate to deal with the biggest, scariest thing first. It’s called ‘Eating the Frog’ – I think Mark Twain said that. I keep it in mind, always.

You, Me and The Apocalypse and Misfits revolved around dystopian realities. Why are people fascinated by apocalyptic storylines?

You, Me and The Apocalypse is epic! I think the dystopian thing speaks to very real fears that we as humans have about ceasing to exist, our way of life being hijacked and us being powerless to that. We crave control. That’s why these storylines are so intriguing. The characters have more depth and freedom too because the scenarios bring out the animalistic side in all of us. I love stories like The Hunger Games!

We noticed you’re quite outspoken on Twitter about representing racial diversity in the media. How do these issues resonate with you?

I feel very strongly about equal representation. I just want to see the world I see when I step out of my front door on my television too. There’s no excuse for racism, but if we don’t see people from different backgrounds on our television and get to interact with them, that breeds ignorance. I just think that TV plays an important part in normalizing people who society doesn’t ascribe to be 'normal'. As of yet, parts of the media aren’t fulfilling that potential. There’s more to be done, both in front of the camera and behind.

'Linda' is at The Royal Court Theatre, London from 25 November – 9 January

Words by Francesca Donovan

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