Emily Buchan talks about her journey as an actor from the Norfolk, UK to LA, and her role opposite Malcolm McDowell in the upcoming 'The Mystery of Casa Matusita'
"Saying that my dreams are coming true seems so silly to say…" says British actress Emily Buchan, "but it just feels like it's true right now." Compared to her home of Norfolk, East Anglia, the LA landscape she now calls home looks rather different. "There's not this much sun in Norwich," she jokes, "I love the place, but this," she gestures, "is where it all happens." It's certainly happening for Emily right now. She is a short time away from starting work on two big projects. She stars in Marilyn! The New Musical at Prospect House Entertainment, which is set to have a residency in Las Vegas in the coming year. Not only that, but she will also be working alongside the legendary Malcolm McDowell (of A Clockwork Orange fame) in the upcoming feature film The Mystery of Casa Matusita. "That's still a little surreal," she confesses, "to be sharing the screen with someone who's that… known. It doesn't seem like it should be possible."
Emily Buchan on stage
As anyone working in the business will tell you, success doesn't happen overnight. This is likely why Emily has been building her skill set since age nine. "Maid Marion in Robin Hood," she declares, "That's where it all began, in my school's production. One performance and I was hooked." She'd been taking singing and dancing lessons since the age of four, "I just liked doing it, I never realized how much it would pay off!" She eventually won a drama and music scholarship to the Langley school, where she began taking exams with the famed London Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts (the school that produced Donald Sutherland, Anthony Head, and, coincidentally, Malcolm McDowell). "Not to brag, but I earned my Gold Award, and got distinctions throughout," she brags, "oh wait, I was bragging, wasn't I… Sorry!" She laughs.
Wanting to spread her wings beyond school theatre, she auditioned for the National Youth Music Theatre. She was cast solidly with them for three years, performing in Aberdeen, Plymouth, and even in locations as prestigious as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. At sixteen, she toured across the US with the Imago Theatre Company. She played (on alternating nights) the roles of Inez, Estelle and the Valet in No Exit by Jean Paul-Sartre. "We started in New York and performed in theaters all the way through to San Fransisco. It was when I reached the West Coast that I fell in love," she says, "So I asked around and researched about where to study."
That search lead her directly to the LA campus of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Alumni of the Academy include Paul Rudd, Adam Scott, Danny DeVito, and Grace Kelly. "Grace Kelly has always been an idol of mine. The fact that she attended the Academy made me confident that I was doing the right thing," she laughs at herself, "when I found out I got in I was so happy that I cried for an hour straight." That's how she found herself in LA.
"The Academy was more than I could have imagined it would be," she explains, "It taught me who I am, and how to find myself in every Character. They gave me the chance to play Velma in Chicago. That was something special." After completing her training she found herself in work fast. Early gigs included web series Support, then a production of Legally Blonde: the Musical in which she played Brooke. This was followed by roles in two feature films now bound for the festival circuit. One for Jams155 Entertainment, and another called Wine Tasting. She picked up bit TV work on shows Get Shorty and Kingdom, and began working with Theatre68, but the best was yet to come.
"McDowell is such an inspiration," she confesses, "always has been. A fellow Brit who made it over here, and who just continues to be incredible." Casa Matusita is, as the title suggests, a mystery thriller. An American writer and his wife temporarily move into the infamous "Casa Matusita" in Lima, Peru for a journalistic investigation. They encounter seemingly supernatural events, changing their lives in ways they could never imagine. "It's a spooky read," she laughs, "I can't wait to get started. We should be shooting next year, all going to plan." Emily has yet to meet McDowell. "I can't wait! But I have to remember to be a professional. That might be the toughest part of the shoot for me. Wish me luck," she crosses her fingers.
Of course, luck doesn't seem to be a thing Emily needs much of at the moment. Casa Matusita being only one of two big jobs she's soon to be working on. "Marilyn is shaping up to be such a fun time," she says, "Monroe had such a difficult, yet incredible life. I just hope we're doing that justice." Marilyn! The New Musical is set to have a residency in Las Vegas. "We have a lot to do before then," she admits, "but it's not really work, is it? Noel Coward said 'Work is more fun than fun'. I feel like that idea has followed me around my whole life. Helped make me what I am, and brought me to the places I want to be." She takes a moment as this sinks in for herself, then adds: "Also, we're going to be in Las Vegas, it can't be that difficult a town to have fun in, right?" And there you have Emily Buchan, a girl who knows what she wants, evidently knows how to get it, and enjoys every second of it.
- Emily Buchan - IMDb ›
- The Mystery of Casa Matusita (2017) - IMDb ›
- The Mystery of Casa Matusita | Prospect House Entertainment ›
- Malcolm McDowell - IMDb ›
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.