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20 Questions: Yolanda Kettle - 'Jennifer Lawrence astounds me'

The actress who recently appeared opposite Andrew Scott in ''Birdland'' is currently starring in a trilogy of American plays, ''Shutters'', at the Park Theatre as part of an all-female cast

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Yolanda Kettle
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

1. Where and when were you born?
I was born in 1988 in Birmingham and grew up there until I came to London to go to drama school.

2. What made you want to become an actor?
I knew from about the age of four that I wanted to be an actor. We had a random drama class when I was in reception. I remember it so vividly and loving every second of it.

3. If you hadn't become an actor, what might you have done professionally?
Who knows?! There was never a plan B.

4. First big break?
Leaving drama school to play Nina in The Seagull at the Arcola.

5. Career highlights to date?
So many, but I think Birdland at the Royal Court because it was quite literally a dream come true.

6. Any regrets?

7. What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
I remember coming to see Hedda Gabler in the West End when I was 16 starring Eve Best and Lisa Dillon. I was mesmerised.

8. And the last?
A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic.

9. Who are your acting heroes?
Hattie Morahan has been a source of huge inspiration for me. Jennifer Lawrence also astounds me.

10. What's the best advice you've ever been given?
"Calm is key", and also my brother sent me a football newspaper clipping a few years ago to cheer me up which said "If you don't believe in yourself, why should anyone else?". It was stuck to my mirror for a long time.

11. Why did you want to get involved in Shutters?
I worked with Jack [Thorpe Baker, director] last year at Regent's Park and so to have a chance to work with him again was a privilege. Performing two new American plays was an attraction and this coupled with the opportunity to be part of an all-female cast at my local theatre was what made me want to be involved.

12. What's it like performing as part of an all-female ensemble?
It's delightful, but no different to working with any other cast really. It's refreshing to have so many women in a room and to get a chance to play parts that you would ordinarily never be cast as.

Yolanda Kettle (r) with Nicola Blackman and Beverley Longhurst in rehearsals for Shutters

13. You play a range of characters in three plays - do you have a favourite?
I don't actually have a favourite but playing a 52 year-old Texan is really fun.

14. Any rehearsal room mishaps?
We are terrible for corpsing.

15. What do you hope people take away from the evening?
Well of course I hope people enjoy themselves but also gain an altered perception of how they see theatre. It would be great to encourage audiences to be more open to the idea of blind casting.

16. What's your favourite post-show haunt?
A glass of red wine with my best friends in my kitchen.

17. How are you likely to spend a day off?
I often try to muster the will power to go to the gym or do some yoga. I live in North London with a close circle of friends and we hang out as much as we can. If it's a nice day me and my housemate will sit in the garden and paint. I'm also really into Orange is the New Black.

18. If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Anyone who owns a vineyard in the Mediterranean. Or Yotam Ottolenghi so I could make delicious food all day.

19. Favourite theatre anecdote?
Cheese club in the boys' dressing room during the final break up scene of A Doll's House.

20. What's next?
Who knows? But most probably a holiday.

Shutters opens at Park Theatre tonight (11 July 2014) and runs until 3 August - more info here