Lashana Lynch has made her big screen debut with British movie Fast Girls that has seen her team up with Lenora Crichlow, Lily James and Noel Clarke.
I caught up with her to talk about the movie, training for the role and what lies ahead for her.
- Fast Girls has hit the big screen today so can you tell me a little bit about the movie?
It’s essentially about the female GB relay team but there are a lot of lovely stories for each of the characters in the team.
We have Shania, who is played by Lenora Crichlow, who is from an underprivileged background and is a bit of an underdog but she somehow makes it onto the relay team and qualifies as a 100m finalist and beats one of the country’s favourites played by Lily James.
And they have a lot of female rivalry throughout the film and the film is about their journey and overcoming that to make a very successful relay team.
They eventually stop the loggerheads and realise that if they work as a team then they could be successful. So there is a lot of drama and a lot of sexiness in the film but that is essentially the story.
- The movie marks you big screen debut so how did you feel stepping onto the movie set for the first time?
It was great. We were in character five or six weeks before we stepped on set anyway because we had trained before hand and we had such a great bond before we even got onto set.
And then when we got on set it was about putting everything we had practised to the test really.
To me it was not so much about acting it was more about executing the job right and really making athletes proud. So we just when on set and did our job and had massive fun while we did that.
It was very very cold and that was probably the low point of the film as it was in the minuses at the end of last year and we were in crop top and knickers so, as you can imagine, it was difficult.
But once we had got over that it was so much fun and me and the girls bonded well and had a good time.
- You take on the role of Belle in the movie so what was it about this character and Noel Clarke’s script that really drew you to it?
Well the script when I read it I kept turning the page and thinking ‘how many more female roles can you fit into one script?’
It was a little bit unbelievable to have so many strong and bold females as you never really see that as every single character in strong in their own right and they don’t rely on men, they are not down-trodden and they are not waiting for big break they are just heading for the future full throttle and I admired that about the characters.
And then when I read mine I recognised a tiny bit of myself in there through how driven she was and how she separates her life from work, she is very classy and comedic in her general life and then get her on track and she can be a bit of a monster. So I related that to myself in terms of my career.
I just enjoyed the read, if I can sit on the train and read a script and want to continue to turn the pages and laugh out loud and have people think that I am a mad woman then the script has done the job for me so I couldn’t wait to get involved.
- So can you tell me a little bit about the training regime that you went on before shooting the movie?
The training for me started in the audition process actually, I did two normal auditions and then our third re-call was a running session with Jeanette Kwakye, who is one of Britain’s finest, so that was a bit daunting.
We would leisurely jogged around the track and tried to make it look like we knew what we were doing and we did a couple of abs with her as well - that was crazy but that prepared me nicely for what was about to come.
Shani Anderson our trainer made it very clear from the start that we weren’t actresses we were athletes and being an actress was secondary and we admired that about her because she treated us like Olympians and she trained us like Olympians.
The first day of training I was on my own with Hannah Frankson, who plays a long-jumper in the movie, but she is an athlete so I was like ’oh my gosh I am the only one who doesn’t know what they are doing’.
So we did a couple of runs around the track and them some stadium stairs and talked about the diet and I found myself shaking on the ground and throwing up and I just though ‘oh gosh what have I got myself into?’
But after that initial shock it was great as once all the girls were together we got on the track and it was a daily routine of drills, learning how to run and I had to learn how to hurdle in two or three weeks - it takes years so that was the shock of my life.
And then after the track stuff we would head indoors to gym to do weights, bench pressing, rowing - every single piece of machinery you see in the gym we were doing that.
On top of that we had the diet which was a low carb high protein diet and we were eating small portions every two and half hours so we were essentially eating six meals a day - it sounds like a lot but as your metabolism builds up you get use to it.
It was a strange feeling of making the food before leaving the house and putting it all in Tupperware and snacking on them throughout training and throughout the day. And when you have done all the hours of training you just go home and crash out because you are knackered and you can’t do anything else.
So it was tough but it was so rewarding as our bodies changed in a matter of two or three weeks and after that we made a great film.
- Was there any rivalry between the cast as to who was the fastest?
Ooohhh you know what there is always going to be a bit of rivalry between us and there was some healthy competition. Myself, Dominique and Lorraine trained together with our coach Shani Anderson and you do always want to be the best and the teachers pet and show the trainer that you are taking in the work and you know what you are doing.
I am very competitive and I have always wanted to stand out and be the best but I have always been like that. But yeah a bit of healthy competition doesn’t do us any harm - it was nothing to serious.
We were all helping each other so when I was flagging by the wayside the others would be like ‘come on you can do it’ and so we had a healthy bond, which was nice.
- Much like yourself director Regan Hall is also a newcomer so how did you find working with him?
Good, good and I felt that we were in the same boat as newcomers and trying to make out mark in the industry. He has got a very unique eye and he is very particular about his work as he comes from quite a beauty background so I new that I was in safe hands in terms of the film looking good.
But he takes care of his actors and he knows how to control a set and he knows what he is doing on set and it didn’t seem to me that he was inexperienced it just seemed like he had a plan and he executed that plan.
I am sure in the future that he will do that plan and some and his future film will be successful just like Fast Girls will be, hopefully.
- You are at the Fast Girls Roadshow with Aviva today so what have you got planned for the rest of the day.
Well we have more interviews with people like yourself and then we are doing some signings and some photographs with the public.
And just supporting Aviva as they have done so much for athletics in general over the years and I am just happy to be involved with it and am happy to be representing smoothing positive for London. And while the film is not about the Olympics I feel like I am part of history in a way and that is exciting.
- Finally as I said earlier this is your first movie so are you looking to continue in film? What about TV?
I have got some TV work coming up actually but definitely film as I just loved being on set and being the buzz of it - I come from a theatre background and it’s so different.
You literally do theatre once and whoever came has that one experience and they leave and that’s that but on set you get to try loads of different things at one time and it’s exciting - you film something and you think ‘how is it going to look?’ ‘I hope that they choose the right take’ ‘I hope I came across well’ or ‘I hope I did the character justice’ and you see it back and it’s like a sigh of relief as you know that you have done your job and it’s being received well.
So I am hoping for a mix of mediums for me in the industry so watch this space.
Fast Girls is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw