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Five Minutes With The Kissing Booth’s Frances Sholto-Douglas

A few weeks ago, Netflix released the sequel to their popular original movie ‘The Kissing Booth’ – and it was every bit as magical as the first. The film was partly shot in and around Cape Town which is why a few familiar faces have made their way into the film. One of these faces is Frances Sholto-Douglas who returned for the sequel to reprise her role as the British beauty Vivian.

Born and raised in Cape Town, with a degree in Theatre and Performance from the University of Cape Town, Sholto-Douglas is no newcomer to acting. Her acting résumé includes work on movies and series such as Samson, The Dating Game Killer, Troy: Fall of a City, The Kissing Booth, and Black Mirror; and also includes theatre and singing performances, as well as work on short films and television commercials.

As the film continues to make waves around the world, we get up close with Frances as she opens up about her involvement in the series, her character and shares some advice on how you can crack it in the movie business.

What attracted you to being part of a film like The Kissing Booth and its sequel?

I auditioned for the Kissing Booth in 2016 and had no idea it would be the huge Netflix hit that it is today. I wasn’t given access to the whole script at that point, so I was drawn to the movie simply because I enjoyed playing around with the character. She was written with great comedic timing and I had a blast getting into her skin. I had been playing a lot of morose and traumatised characters at the time (whether in film or at drama school) so getting to play a role that was light-hearted and fun was a much-needed break from all the tragedy.

While she’s not part of the main cast, Vivian holds her own in the franchise. Talk to us a little bit about the character and how you see she fits into the bigger picture.

I’m so glad you think so! I see her as a sort of grounding force of the high school, holding high standards of those around her but also offering inspiration where she can. She’s there to provide a reality check every once in a while (“I’m British, you wanker”), but often reminds her fellow students to appreciate their high school experience. I think that’s most important in moments where Elle is feeling disheartened (i.e. at Prom or Homecoming when she’s worried about her relationship with Noah).

You’re quite the seasoned actress for just 24 years of age. What stories do you hope to tell through your roles?

Thank you so much! I like to keep an open mind about the future. As an actor, if you plan everything you want to achieve, you’re bound to wind up disappointed as it’s such a fickle and dynamic industry. I would rather surprise myself with the roles I am able to play than set any limitations and be too stuck in my hopes and dreams. That being said, I really want to be a part of more South African cinema. There is a lot to talk about in this country and I feel that we’ve gotten too comfortable with the status quo. I believe that we should see film, television and theatre narratives constantly change and challenge audiences – they are powerful societal tools. I’ve done a lot of international work versus local work, and I want to be more involved in what’s happening here.

Why do you think teenage rom-com films are still so popular around the world? How do you think they resonate with audiences?

Well, for starters, we still have teens! And they are more passionate about television than ever before. I think movies like The Kissing Booth offer some escapism to young people who are dealing with a swarm of growing pains – bodies changing, bullies, etc… When these young people turn on a rom-com, they can get lost in their imagination, laugh, and hopefully feel seen in some way. Still, my parents watched the whole film and loved it (I even walked in on them gossiping about the leads’ personal lives). So, it seems a lot of us – regardless of age – like getting lost in some feel-good, easy watching. There’s a lot going on in the world. We all need a distraction every once in a while.

What has been the most exciting thing about working on a Hollywood film?

Specifically in a big-budget film, the locations and sets give the experience an extra spark. Whether it’s being able to rent out a castle (in The Kissing Booth 2) or build an entire town (in Samson), big-budget locations allow your imagination to go that extra mile and you can really get lost in the story you’re telling.

What is the biggest piece of advice Joey King has shared with you about the acting space?

I honestly just learned from watching Joey perform on set. She manages to balance being kind to every single person on the team with being an incredibly focused and hard-working actor. I have never seen anyone manage that oscillation with so much ease. She once went from bantering with the cast to crying her eyes out for a scene in about 20 seconds. She’s fearless and beyond her years in many ways. Not to mention hilarious!

What was the vibe like on set while filming in Cape Town?

Fun. Very fun! There were countless hours where the actors were waiting around in their trailers or in the green room, so we had plenty of time to bond and joke around. The shoot took place during winter and we were in swimsuits and shorts half the time, so it was also freezing. But we had a great time nonetheless. Being on set is an unparalleled experience.

Why do you think big Hollywood productions continue coming to Mzansi to film?

We have some of the most hard-working and affordable production companies in the world and we just so happen to be home to magnificent natural scenery. We also have heaps of talented, eager actors. I’m surprised there aren’t even more Hollywood productions down here.

What is your ideal role?

I love getting my hands on a meaty, emotionally volatile role. I played Andromache in Charles Duncombe’s Trojan Women in 2017, which was definitely one of my most gratifying acting experiences so far. I do also secretly wish to play a Disney princess one day (I’ll bet I’m not alone there).

You’re working on a new project titled ‘Grow’. Tell us more about that?

“Grow” started through a lockdown Facebook group for creatives trying to take advantage of this difficult time. It’s a comedy series that sees a variety of South Africans deal with the new, immobile way of life that Covid19 has thrust us into. Estelle Terblanche really proved her versatility as an actress and writer/director by creating the series. My character, Melissa, is a workaholic who channels her anxiety into taking on as much work as she possibly can. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t relate.

What piece of advice do you have for young actors who want to make it in the business?

I get asked the question “how do I become an actor?” a lot, mostly on my Instagram. I get the sense that a lot of young actors are looking for a quick fix. I would advise young actors to focus on building their craft. Ask yourself, do I want to be an actor, or do I want to be a famous movie star? I can’t give advice on the latter, but if you really do want to be an actor, there is a lot to learn. You should be auditioning for plays (amateur theatre is a great place to start) and going to as many classes as you can. You can find a lot of information online if money is an issue – search for acting tips on YouTube. Ask your friends to practice scenes with you. Be open to criticism but always respect yourself. Expect rejection – you will get a lot of it. Don’t ever do anything that compromises your values because you think it will help your career. It won’t. Lastly, find an agent who believes in your abilities when the time is right. Good luck!

Watch ‘The Kissing Booth’ on Netflix now.

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