Emma Laird is not the ‘Kingstown’ woman you thought she was | Television
Emma Laird had no idea where her character was going when she read audition scenes for “The Mayor of Kingstown”.
“I had a vague idea of ââwhat she looked like,” says the British actress. Then after saying yes to Iris, a sex worker called to make things happen in Kingstown, she got on a plane and started reading what happens in episodes 5-10.
“This girl is not who I thought she was,” Laird recalls, reading the scripts. “It was devastating and heartbreaking just to read it.”
Iris, however, had scenes so meaty that Laird knew she couldn’t refuse. “It was the best role I could have asked for as a newbie.”
Already regarded as one of the new actresses to follow in Hollywood, Laird jumped into the business through modeling.
âPlaying was the only thing I loved when I was a kid,â she said in an interview with Zoom. “It transfers to so many outlets.”
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Modeling, however, was not one of them. âIt’s so boring,â Laird says of the business. âI used to blame myself, but it funded my career, my education, my training. And it took me out of my hometown, which is a very quiet little town in the middle of England. So I owe a lot to modeling, but certainly not to my acting skills. “
What Laird got instead was the ability to separate from his body. âWe changed out and there weren’t any unions in modeling, so I got used to being okay with nudity and not too focused on body image.â
Actresses, she says, need to let go of any insecurities they might have. But the two professions do not intersect. In fact, âwhen modeling was really bad, acting classes opened my eyes to acting theory. I didn’t even know it was a thing. But I had this âclickâ moment about five years ago: âI want to do this and I can do it. “
While “Mayor of Kingstown” is the first big thing she will have on her resume, her 20s have been chosen as one of Variety magazine’s “10 Brits to Watch”.
She laughs about the attention, but says, âWhen I get ready I’m always nervous. It’s nice to have someone (say something like that) because I’ve always believed in my artistry. But it’s nice not to have to prove to too many people that I can do these things.
Laird received countless offers when the âmayor’sâ offer came in and realized she had to make a strong first statement to last in the business.
âI am a massive character actor,â she explains. âI will always want to take on a different role – a completely different role from myself. Something mythical and eccentric and bizarre would be interesting. âI read for a witch and turned it down for that, but I really like that stuff. You see what Gary Oldman does with his career, with Dracula. I just want completely different roles, which transform physically. I don’t know what the next step is, but I just know it won’t be “Iris.”
Performing most of her scenes opposite Jeremy Renner, a power broker in a prison-ruled town, Laird says she could feel she had taken the right first step.
âOne of my first days with Jeremy, it was so electric. We were bouncing things on top of each other and the chemistry and the energy was there. When I got home I sat down and I said, ‘I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m doing it. I can do it, but it was terrifying.
Eager for a second season, Laird says she would like to know more about Iris. âIt really put my toes in the first season. But season two? I know who she is. I am interested in being able to explore it.