With the dynamic nature of show business today, the ability to be versatile is perhaps one of the strongest traits an actor can have. The ever-changing face of entertainment means that there are more ways than ever to tell a story. Gone are the days where an actor’s resume consisted only of roles within the walls of a playhouse or studio. Now we are presented with an entertainment landscape that includes everything from a film delivered straight to your phone to an international-scale production in a stadium with thousands of moving parts.
Joseph Pharoah has done both, as well as everything in between. Hailing from Essex in England, he was able to capitalize on a close proximity to London and perform an impressive variety of roles throughout London’s legendary theatre scene.
Pharoah was also selected to be part of a small group of performers alongside Annie Lennox for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, a spectacle that garnered over 900,000,000 worldwide viewers. In this performance it was his dancing skills that were highlighted. However Pharoah’s acting skills are just as valuable, and his growing resume in that field has an impressive resume on both stage and screen.
He recently returned to the UK after a year stint in Australia as Thor, one of the main protagonists in a touring theatre production of Marvel's "Avengers Side Show Alley." The demands of a touring show are some of the toughest to overcome for many actors, yet Pharoah excelled in that discipline just like he has in the world of film.
On screen Pharoah has taken on a vast plethora of roles to date including Mark in Alex Macaulay's 403 Egdware Road, Nathan in Chris Turner's Bas Vegas, Lewis in Joey Jameson's A Friend of Ours andBilly Thunder in Jungle, to name a few. Pharoah's versatile appearance has also helped land several commercials including those for GE Brilliant Machines and print ads for Visa Paywave and Tiger Tiger Nightclub.
With such a diverse background already under his belt, Pharoah brings a unique set of offerings to the table, and if his previous track record is any indication, we can expect to see many more powerful roles and performances that Pharoah will deliver with poise and determination.
Take a look at our interview with him below to find out more about this accomplished actor.
Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?
JP: I am originally From Essex, England. It’s a great place to be located, especially as an actor as it’s easily accessible to London. I literally started off by simply attending auditions for unpaid productions, mainly to build up some recognition and experience within the industry. Within a short space of time I had landed my first agent who began to secure me much more credible work.
Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?
JP: Most recently I’ve played the lead role of Lewis in a very successful film called A Friend of Ours, which was shot on location in Sydney, Australia. The synopsis revolves around 2 gangsters about to make a ‘hit’ on an unsuspecting victim. The role of Lewis was challenging yet interesting as the character displays various emotions such as ambition and fear in a short space of time. The film itself has done amazingly well by being selected to show at 2 film festivals in Australia and the Xpo North Festival in Scotland.
My biggest film project to date is my role within British feature film Angels vs Bullies. I played the part of Nathan, the older brother of the main antagonist Deano. The relationship between the 2 brothers is very rocky and Nathan regularly verbally abuses and physically attacks Deano. Being the victim of Nathan’s abuse causes Deano to become a bully and take his emotions out on the other students to who attend his school, which is something that contributes to the films main plot. For me playing the role could be sometimes quite exhausting, the character of Nathan required a lot of energy as lots of his scenes are very loud and powerful. There was also some fighting choreography to learn for scenes where Nathan attacks Deano
Have any of these projects won awards?
JP: I have worked with plenty of Award winning directors, Hollywood director David Gordon Green probably being the most well-known. He won awards for his work all over the world, including top prize at the Berlin film festival and New York Critics guide. I also worked with Kim Gavin who was responsible for the London Olympics Closing Ceremony. Kim also directed the fastest selling British tour of all time for boy Band Take That. The tour won the Sony Ericsson tour of the year award at the Vodafone music awards in 2008. I also know that A Friend of Ours was very close to getting top prize at the Xpo North Film Festival, it’s a shame the film missed out, although the director and his team are still entering into other festivals so I’m confident it will start receiving some well-deserved awards.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
JP: I always try to add diversity to my acting roles. Playing the same type of character over and over is great, but I like to challenge myself and portray different characters with different emotions in various situations. I like to be put out of my comfort zone, as that is when I believe that you truly start to learn new skills.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
JP: If a certain role gives me the chance to work with a certain director or actor then it’s a great motivator in wanting to take on a role. Being able to experience somebody else’s talent on set or stage whether it is taking direction or acting alongside another performer it is valuable in itself and plays a big part in why I choose certain roles. Also if the role is interesting with a good script then I’m always enthusiastic to be involved, as I know the end result will be great.
Can you list some of the theatre projects you've participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?
JP: I played the lead role of Thor in a stage production of Marvel's “Avengers Side Show Alley” which toured Australia back in 2013. It was a fun part to play and was a great way to travel round Australia and see the country in all its’ beauty.
I also portrayed the lead character of Barry in the comedy play “Cream”, written by Binda Singh and directed by The Italian Job actor John Forgeham. The play showed at The courtyard Theatre in North London which is a fantastic venue to perform at especially with it being my stage debut. The script was fantastic and I was really happy to be involved such a brilliant production.
What has been your favorite role so far and why?
JP: My favorite performance was definitely at the London Olympics Closing Ceremony. After lots of grueling auditions, I was chosen to be part of a small group of dancers that performed alongside singer Annie Lennox. I had never performed to such a huge audience before so the pressure was high and there were endless rehearsals beforehand to master the tricky choreography. It was all worth it though as the atmosphere in the stadium was absolutely electric and something I'll never forget.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
JP: I'd say it's definitely comedy, as it's what I enjoy most. Being able to perform a scene on stage and then hear the audience roar with laughter is a great feeling. In fact, quite a few of the roles have portrayed, even if not set in a comedy genre, have had some sort of comic value to them, it's what seems to come most natural to me.
What separates you from other actors?
JP: I have a strong work ethic and rather then waiting for auditions to come to me, I go to them. I believe that some actors only play on their strengths alone and don't attempt to improve their weak areas. I feel that I know what my strengths are but also try to learn something new or train something else everyday to improve on where I think I may be lacking. For example, I've recently taken up boxing to improve my fitness but also to add another string to my bow in my acting career. I'm opening doors for myself by being able to portray a sport or skill in a realistic way if I ever needed it for a role.
What would you say your strongest qualities as an actor are?
JP: My determination and drive. There is a lot of competition out there even if you are the worlds best actor you will find yourself being rejected a lot more than being accepted. Obviously being talented with a good training background is important, but it essential to maintain good focus and motivation to make sure you are doing you're best at every audition and you're making the effort to show people what you can offer.
Can you list some of the people you’ve worked with that our readers might know?
JP: In 2013 I played the body double for The Matrix and Lord of the Rings Movie star Hugo Weaving, best known for playing the role of Agent Smith. I've also worked with Pineapple Express Hollywood director Daivd Gordon Green, Comedian and actor Russel Brand, Eurythmics’ Singer Annie Lennox and Kiss of the Dragon star John Forgham.
What projects do you have coming up?
JP: We've just wrapped shooting in Munich on a short film written and directed by myself, which is my directorial debut. We're now working on editing the film and then will be putting it forward to be shown at various film festivals including the Berlin film festival. Everything regarding filming went smoothly and we have some great footage. Most of my time at the moment will be putting everything together to create the finished product.
What are your plans for the future?
JP: I did some fantastic work in Australia last year and now I've returned to England. My agent here is working hard and supplying me with lots of auditions, so it makes sense to stay here while the demand is high. Ultimately, I would like to work in Los Angeles and see what sort of acting career I could carve out there. I feel like the work out there would be a lot more diverse with a demand for actors within my category. I'm very determined and resourceful and I also can pull off various American accents, so I think I'll do well at auditions.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
JP: To be the best that I can be. I want to be known for producing and delivering great performances consistently and have enough diversity within my talent that I could be potentially be cast for nearly any type of role. I am the type of person to always shoot for the stars, so winning an Oscar would be the ultimate goal.
What kind of training have you done?
JP: Most of my acting training has been one-on-one private coaching. Although expensive, I find this the best way to learn. At the moment I'm being tutored by actor Guy Masterson, who is in fact the nephew of the great Richard Burton. I also had extensive tuition from actor John Forgeham who is probably best known for appearing in Kiss of The Dragon alongside Jet Li. John trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, considered by many to be the best drama school in the world, so I knew the training I was getting was of high quality.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
JP: I think the thing I love about acting the most is that you have ability to be whoever you want to be. Growing up I was so indecisive about what I wanted to be, I'd think 'Shall I be an architect, or a athlete or even a police officer?' But then I thought if I was an actor then I could be all of these things together within the roles that I play! I find it intriguing to step outside your own body for a while and put yourself into the position of the character you are portraying. I love being to entertain people and it gives me a real buzz when people enjoy and compliment you on your performances.