First printed in CLAPA News 2010
Rosamund Hanson first came to fame as an actress for her portrayal of Smell in “This is England”, which she reprised in “This is England ‘86” on Channel 4 television. She has recently made a pilot called “Life’s too Short” with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
Rosamund was born with a cleft palate.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an actress?
I first realised I wanted to be an actress when I took to the stage in Jungle Book as Kaar the psychedelic snake. I found the performance both exciting and exhilarating, I’d never experienced anything so exciting before and then when my teacher handed out the forms for the television workshop I jumped for joy and filled out a form. Six months later I was attending regular workshop sessions
Which actors and actresses have influenced you and why?
Stephen Graham has influenced me because he is such a powerful actor. He says that wherever I go in the world I should always remember that I’m like a sister to him now.
What impact do you think your cleft palate has had on you as a person and as an actress?
It didn’t really affect me later on in life although when I was younger I used to get bullied for having a ´weird voice´ and a funny face, I was lucky I had a lovely speech therapist who helped me build up confidence.
What advice would you give to someone with a cleft lip and/or palate who would like to become a performer?
Just keep it real and remember that you don’t need to change for anyone. What makes you special is your own personal characteristics in life not some stereotypical drama school kid.
Which has been you favourite role so far and why?
My role in “Life’s Too Short” directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant playing Jackie Wilkins is so fun. My character in that is the most gormless person ever!
What has been the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome?
Not slurring my words and making sure I spoke with confidence and diction.
You went straight into acting without going to drama school – do you have any regrets about that?
No, I will go to drama school when I’m ready.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are to become a respected character actress and do lots more shows: film, theatre, and television.
How difficult is it to get an agent when you have a cleft?
I was nervous before I went into my interviews with casting agents, although I’ve never felt that having a cleft palate would get in my way. I’m quite determined when I want something. I would say have as much confidence as you can, people will pick up on your passion for acting in life.
Do you know any other actors/actresses/musicians with clefts?
I don’t know any actors; I met a wardrobe mistress called Jo Thompson who also had a cleft palate. It was a pleasure to meet her, especially on my first major project, “This is England”. We got on like a house on fire, it was great to come across someone I could identify with.
Do you think having a cleft lip and palate has affected your relationships?
It affected me when I was younger, being bullied for being different was hard. I overcame this by having close friends and making sure I was surrounded by decent people. If anything it’s made me stronger, more determined to speak out. I would always make sure that I read aloud in English just to prove that I was able to be articulate.
Is there anything else you would like to say about growing up with a cleft lip and palate?
I have an oral fixation with things because I wasn’t breast fed! It’s quite bizarre, my mum used to have to get beads out of my mouth and stuff. I won’t drink as much. My mum used to spend all day feeding me which was okay because she didn’t have anything to compare me with, it’s a subconscious thing but I leave loads of drinks lying around.