Inspire Magazine meets Sophie Stone

This article first published in the Signature Inspire Magazine – Spring 2016

Sophie Stone took time out of her very busy theatre schedule to tell us about her drive for acting and her experience as a deaf person in the industry.

Where did your passion for acting come from? It came from a need to express myself before I could fully access language due to my deafness & pure escapism from my own reality. I enjoyed stories and as a child would lose myself for days in books. My imagination was very vivid and colourful and performing allowed me to give life to that visual world. And then when I discovered the taste of new words in my mouth (and later, my hands: sign language) I relished creating new ways to play with these tools and share stories on stage. How has your deafness affected your acting? It has enabled me to appreciate language in all its layered forms and there’s a richness to the way things are ‘observed’ (physically, emotionally, metaphorically) that can be tuned into when a sense is limited. There are things I have to work a little bit harder at, like voice work and reassuring those around me that my presence is not a burden. In many areas being deaf has given me the journey I’m on and for that I’ll always be grateful, but it does have areas of limitations imposed by others but that’s true for a lot of actors, deaf or not. How does it make you feel that you were first deaf woman to train at RADA? I felt incredibly fortunate to get in as an aspiring actor, before deafness was even a factor, many actors desire to train there and it’s notoriously hard to enter. Being the first deaf person wasn’t a huge deal to me, I was more concerned that I wouldn’t be the last.

At what age did you start to learn to sign? And why did you start to learn? I learnt a tiny bit of sign at primary school and aside from all the kids signing ‘Dog’ ‘House’ ‘tree’ at me every lunch break, it didn’t become a shared language. It was only from deciding I wanted to go to a deaf boarding school at the age of 12 that I acquired the skills to communicate with other deaf people & in turn developed an identity and a sense of belonging. Does your daughter Angel sign too? Yes she does, mostly for demonstrative purposes or necessity but she’s incredibly articulate, patient and clear that we mostly lip read. She’s a better lip reader than me and that’s saying something! What do you do in your spare time? Spare time? Haha. Sometimes I find work and life balance a bit of a challenge so when I’m not working we like to camp or take random road trips and explore new places. But my down time usually consists of writing, reading and painting, which isn’t often enough for my liking. I also have a theatre company that I’m a co-founder of, so we occasionally try and create new material when we’re not committed to other jobs.

Which roles have been your favourite and why? Doctor Who and Marchlands have been close to my heart because of the storylines, the way they’ve been written and the opportunity to play interesting, whole characters with depth and purpose. Being a part of Mother Courage as Kattrin at the National Theatre was a pivotal point in my career that I’m very proud of and learnt a lot from and grew as an actor. What has been your biggest achievement in the field of acting? Being employed in the field of acting! Finding my voice & trusting my ability. Being able to make a difference and give something back – I’m on the board of governors for the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama and am hoping to be in a position of supportive positive change within the training field for future deaf/disabled actors. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become an actor? Treat every job as an audition for the next. Everyone you meet could have the ability to make or break your next step, so treat yourself as a business on the outside but a child in the room – meaning be brave, make mistakes, be hungry to learn, open to new things and be kind. Convince yourself you’re the right person for the job then prove it – you always have something to offer.

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