Limerick actress, Michelle Fox has just been cast as a regular in the popular BBC drama Casualty and is also filming a new series alongside Hugh Grant.
In 2010 Limerick Youth Theatre presented ‘Women in Power’, Kenneth McLeish’s adaptation of Aristophane’s ‘Women in Assembly’. The poster for the show was captivating.
Central to the poster was an image that featured Michelle Fox, a young actress from Caherdavin. With crimson hair, striking cheekbones and eyes that hypnotised there was something about Fox that meant business. Her performance in the youth theatre production exuded an energy that got people talking.
A review of the show in Irish Theatre Magazine at the time singled out Fox’s performance as: “Humorous, articulate, sly and manipulative but well intentioned……..expertly performed by Fox. Imparting all these characteristics with subtlety and skill, Fox is a bit of a show”.
If I was a betting man I would have put a few quid on Michelle Fox going on to make a name for herself. Seven years on she is doing just that.
I took some time to chat with Michelle and discovered a young Limerick talent who has quietly gone about her business in the world of acting with results that would be the envy of many.
Fox is the youngest in her family and sees this as one of the reasons for the entertainer in her coming to the fore.
“Doing speech & drama in primary school let me go a bit wild therefore my poor parents were dragged to drama competitions nearly every month. They never complained though”, she tells me.
Her first introduction to Limerick audiences was with Barespace Theatre Company in 2008 where she played Little Red Riding Hood in this critically acclaimed production of Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’ at the Belltable.
“I struggled to fit in at school as a young girl. The world of theatre was an escape for me. I must say that Limerick Youth Theatre was a particular saviour for me in my teens. I made lifelong friends there and the whole experience convinced me that I wanted to go into acting”, she says.
The impact she made at Limerick Youth Theatre not only convinced Limerick audiences that she had a talent. The experience she took from those early days convinced her to pursue drama as a career.
At the age of 17 she decided to study Drama and Spanish degree in UCC.
“Moving down to Cork was quite daunting at first but I fell in love with Cork in the end. It gave me huge independence and that’s helped through this roller coaster that being a working actor is”, Fox notes.
With graduation from UCC came a moment of panic for Fox.
“You feel a bit lost after University ends and I wanted a big change. London was always a big acting hub for me so I packed my bags and made the move”, she says.
“When I first arrived, I felt a bit lost- not knowing where to start or who to contact. A friend suggested auditioning for Drama schools so that’s what I did. I was lucky enough to get into Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the training I received there was invaluable. There are lots of ways to get involved in acting but drama school worked for me”.
Fox graduated from the Bristol Old Vic last year and success started to come her way. She was cast in a one-off episode of BBC’s Doctors and then went on to be cast in a theatre tour of Medea.
“During the run of Medea I auditioned for the lead in a new BBC series called Overshadowed and managed to get the part”, she tells me.
“It’s about a Youtube blogger who develops anorexia over the course of the show. It was hard but rewarding to film and it came out last Sunday. It’s been really well received and I’m glad of what we achieved. It also helped me to get my foot in the door so to speak so I’m grateful for that”.
In fact, her performance of Overshadowed resulted in the London newspaper Metro featuring her as part of their Ones to Watch series.
Fox’s star is now quickly on the rise. She has recently been cast as a series regular on Casualty, a show that boasts audience figures of over 4.3 million.
“I’m playing a gutsy junior doctor called Bea”, she says.
“It’s been great filming so far but I’m still getting my head round the medical jargon!”.
Away from filming Casualty she is also current filming ‘A very English Scandal’ for BBC 1. Starring alongside Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, and directed by Stephen Frears the new show is about the Jeremy Thorpe scandal in the 1960’s.
Fox says she is particularly influenced as an actor by women who write their own material.
“Women like Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum) and Eva O’ Connor (Overshadowed) are all people who I admire”, she notes.
“Parts for women have always been lacking. No one wants to just play the mother/sister/girlfriend to the male protagonist all the time so sometimes we have to write our own TV/Theatre to show how diverse and brilliant women can be. I’m liking the way things are slowly but surely turning around”.
Fox has been based in London for over 4 years but this Caherdavin girl has never lost her love for home.
“I’m a homebird and miss home a lot so I try to get back as often as I can”, she says.
“I love Limerick- the people, the pubs, the craic have always lured me back. Can’t miss out on pints in Tom Collins and strolling through the market on a Saturday! My schedule is a bit crazy at the moment but the next time I have a few days off, you can be sure I’ll be on a flight back to Shannon”.
Michelle Fox is in the process of filming her first scenes this month and is likely to make her on screen Casualty debut towards the end of the year. A Very English Scandal is also likely to hit BBC 1 in Spring 2018.
You can watch a clip of Fox in BBC 3’s Overshadowed here: