Born and raised in Nottingham and Mansfield, Cassie Bradley is a British actress known for her work with Sam Mendes and Marianne Elliott at the National Theatre and her screen appearances on BBC, ITV and Channel 5.
In her final year of training at The Oxford School of Drama she performed an original short play written for her by Patrick Marber. Upon graduating, she was cast by Mendes in the National Theatre’s production of King Lear, starring alongside Simon Russell Beale.
She returned for her second season with the National Theatre Company in 2016, playing Maggie Pearson in Marianne Elliott & Ben Power’s celebrated production of Husbands and Sons with Anne-Marie Duff. She received critical acclaim for her role as Dimitri Mitropoulos in the ground-breaking 2017 all-female production of Posh by Laura Wade.
On screen she is best known for playing Leigh-Anne Carr in Casualty (BBC: 2017/2018), Natalie Watkins in Coronation Street (ITV: 2018/2019). Showing just how versatile she is, Cassie Bradley has also played Mary Magdalene in Jesus: His Life (Amazon Prime Video May 2020)
In 2019 she joined the cast of Coronation Street for ITV. Her portrayal of impulsive trainee barber Natalie made waves in the British press and earned her national award nominations, including Best Bad Girl at the Inside Soap Awards.
Bradley is a passionate advocate for working class actors. She works with outreach programmes at the National Theatre, Luminary Bakery and Arts Emergency. She regularly contributes to articles and panels campaigning for greater opportunities for actors from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
What made you choose the oxford school of drama over other schools?
Coming from a single parent, working class background I had no connections to the acting industry, I just knew I wanted to act. I would never have been able to afford drama school training without a government Dance & Drama Award (DaDA) and The Oxford School of Drama had a fantastic level of support available, even at application level. Their ethos is that training should be accessible to all and that was evident from the very first audition.
I remember my final recall being the most honest, rigorous and challenging audition of all the schools I applied to; they really got to the heart of who I was, and I experienced tutors that cared, and teaching founded upon honesty, individuality and raw emotion. I remember thinking: “I want that in a training”.
What do you think makes the training at the oxford school of drama so special?
It’s special because it’s driven by passion. George Peck founded the school with a bank loan and a dilapidated barn with no heating. People said he was mad and that it was doomed to fail… but it didn’t. I think that spirit is built into the character of the school, its tutors and its students. OSD isn’t ‘shiny’, ‘polished’ or focused on appearances, it’s got depth and it demands an extraordinary level of commitment from everyone under its roof. The training is tough; it takes guts, it takes dedication, it encourages you to fail and pick yourself up again. I think it’s this spirit that makes OSD actors unique.
Can you remember a time at the school that was of particular significance for you?
I remember sitting in George’s living room by the log fire receiving my second-year report and having such a frank conversation about my life and what it had taken to get me to drama school. It was a real turning point in how I saw myself and how I then approached the work.
I think the school chooses and nurtures individuals. It’s built upon honesty. I take that into every job and always remember the Beckett quote that George used to recite:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”
Looking back, what aspects of the training do you particularly value now you are in the profession?
Everything. I think it’s an incredible training that prepares you for absolutely anything the profession (and life) has to throw at you! It’s 3 years of hard work, laughter, tears, joy, therapy, imagination, creativity… It gave me resilience and made me value grit. It’s fully immersive; it demands your heart and soul and so does the life of an actor.
You’ve been involved in campaigning for greater diversity and representation for working class actors in the industry, why is this is so important to you?
I think it’s essential, to our culture and the way our stories are told. In recent years there have been many positive steps towards greater representation in the arts but there’s still a long way to go. Diversity includes class and unless we fight to protect government arts funding (schemes like the DaDA) and council run drama programmes opportunities for young people will disappear.
For me it’s about challenging unspoken value systems. I’m not a politician but I’ve lived it. I know I’m very lucky to have had the opportunities and breaks that I have but I don’t want to be an exception. I believe the people and voices in our stories (on TV, in film, on stage and on the radio) set a precedent and should reflect the people who listen and watch them.