e l a g a r F e u q i n e m o D Photographed by ADXN
TABLE OF CONTENTS JULY 2021
ON THE COVER DOMENIQUE FRAGALE PHOTOGRAPHED BY ADXN FOR VIEWTIES.
Editor's note, p5
The Nevers and why you must watch it!
Welcome to the July edition - issue 24.
TABLE OF CONTENTS JULY 2021
PAGE 16 VIKASH BHAI PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL SHELFORD
Domenique Fragale, p8
Vikash Bhai, p16 talks about playing the leading role of Farhad in his feature debut LIMBO.
The Nevers star speaks about passions close to her heart and immigration.
A MAGAZINE WRITTEN & DESIGNED BY
Published monthly at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ad sales agent: Anny Andrades - firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: viewties.co.uk @viewtiesmag
r e t t e L A the Editor from
elcome to the July 2021 editon #24 of Viewties!
Inside this issue, we embrace a common theme portrayed in two beautiful stories of immigration and refugees. On the one hand, we have the story of immigration in the UK told by the lovely talent from our front cover and on the other hand, we have the talent from the back cover who shares with us all about his character in a refugee's movie. Two beautiful approaches, one same passion.
As y o u h a v e a l r e a d y r e a d i n p r e v i o u s i s s u e s , h e r e i n V i e w t i e s w e a r e huge fans of HBO original series The Nevers. But if you are a new reader, welcome then and celebrate with us our madness for this amazing action pack series that also emphasizes women power and many social issues. The Nevers is set in Victorian London, 1899, where society has been rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people – mostly women – abnormal abilities. But no matter their particular “turn,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger and face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind. … You can think X-Men meets Sherlock Holmes. In this special edition of Viewties, I wanted to discuss one of these issues exposed in the series, which is immigration, and many other interesting things brought to us by a beautiful mind of one of the stars of this show.
DOMENIQUE FRAGALE Photographed by ADXN
DF Do m e n i q u e F r a g a l e s h o n e i n H B O s e r i e s , T h e N e v e r s , p l a y i n g t h e r o l e o f B e t h Cassini - an Italian immigrant with a Superpower. This role is extremely close to her heart as Beth experiences hardships and is looked down upon because of her status, Domenique's grandparents went through exactly the same thing. You’d probably know Domenique for her leading role in Amazon Prime’s My Best Friend's Famous, but perhaps you don’t know that, outside of acting, she’s also a BBC Radio Presenter and Ambassador for the Princess Diana Award Against Bullying and Ambassador for MQ Mental Health Foundation. She’s the Exec Producer for DBK Studios, in collaboration with Sky Arts (with Koby Adom (Dir: Noughts + Crosses, Top Boy) - where they recognise undiscovered talent, primarily BAME creatives. In a pause from the set where she’s filming Part 2 of HBO successful series The Nevers, Domenique speaks to Viewties about passions close to her heart - her family's immigration, charities, mental health and awareness, among other things.
Domenique Fragale Photographed by ADXN
V: First of all, I would like to know how you booked the role of Beth Cassini in the HBO series The Nevers, a character very close to your heart that seemed inspired by your family story. Could you tell us what the casting process was like and your reaction when you knew this role is very similar to what people you loved lived through? Domenique - It was all secretive. I knew the name of the series and who was involved but when it came to the audition I was given 'dummy-sides', a different name to the character's now and she had a different power. There was a lot of work that had to go into it; translating two scenes into Italian and performing both for Nina Gold's office. I spoke to my dad a lot, ensuring I was translating authentically and spoke to my cousin who still lives in Italy, replicating her accent. I care about any role I'm seen for but this one felt distinctive; I wanted it badly because it felt so close for me. I was taped twice and then had to wait a few days to hear the news. That's the worst part about any actor's job - the waiting. I had to forget about it. When I got the news though I was viewing flats and I was so excited. I think I gave the estate agent a scare when I started shouting all kinds of happy things down the phone to my agent when I got the news. I play Beth Cassini, an Italian immigrant who wants to live a simple life, but was one of the women who were given a ‘turn’. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her power and tries to keep it a secret. She knows the public aren’t accepting of the Touched, her own family cast her out because of her ability so she’s completely alone in a time where people don’t understand her, don’t want change and considered of lower class because she’s a foreigner. She’s got double the difficulty to deal with.
Beth made me realise what my Italian immigrant grandparents went through and the hardships that came with it.
V: Do you think this was an advantage or disadvantage getting involved sentimentally with the character? Domenique - I think it helps when an actor can connect with the character they play; a relatability, but also the importance of making that character your own. Everyone's born with something that drives them, it's an actor's job to find out what that is and use it. I didn't realise the vast similarities between Beth and my grandparent's experience until I got the role and really researched it. I think that's a major advantage as well as adding even more joy for me to play the role. It also made me realise what my Italian immigrant grandparents went through and the hardships that came with it. It was meant to be a time of great excitement and new opportunities but family and friends would have been left behind, as well as grasping a new culture shock. V: Did you suggest adding something to the storyline to make justice to what your character wants to leave as a message for the audience? Domenique - In Part 1 the writing is so well done that it was easy for me to fall into what Beth wants to convey. Part 2's writing is just as captivating and our new showrunner, Philippa Goslett, has made it abundantly clear that she likes hearing actors' suggestions and any ideas we may have for our characters. Being able to have that collaborative relationship opportunity is very rare, but it's what makes walking onto set such an enjoyable experience when you have a team around you that clearly cares and loves what they do.
V: I can’t help feeling this connection with you as we both are descendants from Italians and I would really love to be an immigrant in your country one day. With what you have researched about the subject, which are the differences you notice now regarding immigration in England? Domenique - My Nonno and Nonna moved over from Calabria in Southern Italy in their early 20's to make more of a life for themselves and their family. They barely spoke any English, my Nonna spoke nothing at all, so they had no friends. They worked in a local factory in my home-town of Lincolnshire and were isolated and looked down upon by the locals at the time. They had no money but with hard work, they created a solid foundation for their generations after, myself included. I love going back to their small village in Italy. It's so peaceful and it's the type of town where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone's busy. Barely anyone speaks English and the food is out of this world (that's not an exaggeration either.) I feel very fortunate to be able to feel both at home there, in England and the US. My mum is from the US originally so I have both UK and US Citizenship but I'm not oblivious to the fact that it is hard for individuals to be able to move and get the best opportunities out in other countries because of tighter restrictions. Immigriation offers diversity and economic opportunities. I really hope you do make it over here!
Everyone has their own internal battles they're dealing with every single day, let's not add to them.
V: Outside acting, you use your platform involving in charities where you raised £55,000 for Leukemia Research in the past several years, as your father was diagnosed with the cancer. You’re also the Ambassador for the Princess Diana Award Against Bullying and Ambassador for MQ Mental Health Foundation. Beside personal experiences, what motivated you to spark conversation regarding these issues and collaborate to do something about it? Domenique - My dad was diagnosed with Leukeamia when I was younger, he was told he only had 10 years to live, that absolutely frightened my family and I remember thinking, even at such a young age, "This isn't fair." He was cared for at Nottingham City Hospital and there offered a trial drug. He took well to it, thankfully, and has been taking it ever since, with regular checkups. The medical staff there are brilliant. I'm so thankful. My family and I know how fortunate we are though so together we raise funds and support for Leukaemia charities in any way we can. It's just over £55,000 so far but we won't be stopping. I was bullied when I was a kid, mainly because of how I looked and my interests. As I became a teenager, the ...
bullying became more mentally toxic with a lot of mind-games and peerpressure, so when I had the opportunity to take part in an anti-bullying and gun crime awareness short film, I jumped at it. It was shown nationally in school's around the country and got a lot more recognition than we imagined. The cast and crew were nominated for the Diana Award and we received them at BAFTA when I was 13, I've been working with the organisation ever since. They believe that young people can change the world and have their mentoring programme set up in schools across the country to give young people an insight into the world of work and career skills training. I've had the honour of going into schools to speak about my experiences growing up and how the Diana Award can help others. When I moved out to Los Angeles after graduating from drama school, I was working as an actress out there and it can be a hard place to make genuine friends. I was on a night shoot for a feature called 'The Maestro' and I met Haigan; she played the role of Rita Hayworth to my Ava Gardner. We hit it off straight away and became close. She seemed to have everything the perfect family, a loving boyfriend, a great career in front of her and was truly beautiful inside and out. She told me once that she had difficulty with bullying from people back in her hometown, but it was nothing she couldn't handle. At one point I didn't hear from her for about a month, which was rare. I was scrolling through Twitter one day and came across a tweet through a mutual friend of ours that she had passed away. I remember messaging them ...
straight away, being so confused, but they told me she had taken her own life. She seemed like she had no cares in the world but it came to light that she was dealing with more online bullying and depression. When I got back to London I was in a numb state. I still didn't fully comprehend what had happened or why. I knew I wanted to get more involved with a mental health charity, even to understand a small amount of what she was feeling. I stumbled upon an exhibition by MQ Mental Health one day and have believed in what they want to achieve - creating a world where mental illness is better understood, diagnosed, treated and maybe someday prevented. V: From our side, how can we promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of mental health problems? Domenique - When I was experiencing what I did, after coming back to London, I remember feeling like I was bottling so much up but when someone actually asked me "Are you okay?" I realised I wasn't and that it was okay for me to speak about how I was feeling and a step in the right direction to let go of pent-up confusion, hatred and sadness. I'm not someone who can say that they have felt severe mental health issues and I don't claim to be, but I do understand now how important it is for someone to check in with another person and ask how they're doing. It's so easy for us to judge but everyone has their own internal battles they're dealing with every single day, let's not add to them.
Domenique Fragale Photographed by ADXN
V: There is something that almost anyone can’t escape from, which are our insecurities. With social media it gets worse because they sell a perfection that doesn’t exist, comparison and there also lies a huge amount of hate. How do we navigate through the benefits of socials without getting our mental health damage in the process? Domenique - I'll admit that I've definitely seen a picture of someone on social media and thought "Why can't I look like her?" but then I remember that you can't believe everything you see. We say it all the time, don't we? I bet people get tired of hearing it but it doesn't hurt to remind ourselves. There's so much pressure for everyone to look and behave a certain way but that pressure will only affect you if you let it, so I think it's vital to take a break from it all. The biggest thing that helped me was when I realised that what I wanted in life was not going to be dictated to me by followers or who I was following. Thankfully feedback for The Nevers and on my work has been positive, from what I've been told, but I don't go looking for it. I don't even like to watch myself on screen so there's no way I'm going to go looking for what people have said about me. I don't need to, unless it's our director... or my mum! V: Do you think that the industry needs to tell more stories about Mental Health to reach awareness? Domenique - Absolutely. I don't think ...
there could ever be a limit to hearing real-life experiences from those in the industry, and not just our Entertainment industry, but all industries and especially men. We continue to strive for equality in this world but the amount of men who feel like they can't show that side of themselves is still significant. V: If you could pick, what would be your dream role? What sort of personality do you believe the world needs to see on screen right now? Domenique - I'm a huge Shakespeare geek so being able to play Cleopatra on stage, or screen, would be a dream come true. As well as being in a Greek tragedy. I think the world needs to see truthful stories and people telling them; stories from people who only they can tell them. I'm also working as an Executive Producer with DBK Studios (founded by Koby Adom - director: Noughts + Crosses, Top Boy) and our drive is to tell stories from unrepresented individuals within the industry. We have 5 incredible writers and filmmakers who have created short films to be shown on Sky this year, just in time for Black History Month, and each time I've been on set we've laughed, we've cried, we've been shocked and amazed at what these individuals have gone through. It's exactly what needs to be shown.
The world needs to see truthful stories and people telling them. V: Last question, as my nationality is Argentinean, I’m curious to ask you if you have ever seen or experienced any type of art/culture from Argentina? Domenique - I have this huge fascination with travelling to Latin America, which obviously includes Argentina. I also love to Salsa dance, so getting the Argentinean Tango down is on the bucket list! I also know that it's an old tradition that on the 29th of each month gnocchi is supposed to be eaten over there - something to do with the Italian immigrants coming over. Clearly Argentinians and Italian's are meant to get along!
Domenique Fragale Photographed by ADXN
VIKASH BHAI Photographed by Michael Shelford
VB V ikash Bhai makes his feature debut playing the role of Farhad in Ben Sharrock’s LIMBO. A film that explores refugees and tells a bittersweet tale that portrays the journey of those in need. Besides the raving positive reviews, Limbo won the Golden Pyramid for Best Film at the Cairo Film Festival and has received numerous nominations at this year’s BIFAs and BAFTA’s including the BAFTA nomination for Outstanding British Film in 2021. The film follows the story of Omar, a promising young musician, who is separated from his family in Syria. Omar and a group of new arrivals are stuck on a remote Scottish island waiting for the fate of their asylum claims. Viewties spoke to Vikash about the film, where he proudly shares the joy of having connected with Farhad and the background story of Limbo.
Vikash Bhai Photographed by Michael Shelford
V: Limbo explores the journey of a refugee, capturing humanity in a very artistic way. When you opened the script for the first time, what drew you to the storyline? Vikash - When I read the opening scene, where we meet Helga (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Boris (Kenneth Collard), I remember laughing out loud and thinking ‘OK, I’m in!’. By the time I’d finished, I didn’t want it to end. I thought that this was something really special. Also, something about Farhad resonated with me instantly. I said to my wife, ‘I have to do everything that I can to be a part of this!’. V: Why do you think Limbo has been so well received? Vikash - In short - I think it’s the heart, the humour and the humanity throughout that makes Limbo such a joy to watch. Ben Sharrock, our director, uses comedy and pathos to humanise the refugee experience. As an audience we aren’t beaten over the head with a story about victims who we should feel sorry for, which can often be the case in films of this nature. I think this is a story about a young musician looking for belonging and it’s that very human aspect that makes Limbo so relatable. Not least because of all the beautiful cinematography work by our DOP Nick Cooke and the masterful and nuanced performance of our lead Amir El’Masry who plays Omar.
As an audience we aren’t beaten over the head with a story about victims who we should feel sorry for, which can often be the case in films of this nature.
V: What was it like working with Limbo’s director and creator Ben Sharrock? Vikash - Well, to give you an idea, about a month before we ferried off to Uist [in the outer Hebredes], we spent around a week or so in rehearsal, in Edinburgh. Not only did we explore the scenes in the text, but Ben also created scenarios for us to fully improvise, which in turn enriched our characters and our relationships with each other. Ben has a real openness to trying things out and improvising and that collaborative element is just one of the many reasons why working with Ben would be a wonderful experience for anyone. An actor’s director for sure! V: Tell us about your character, Farhad. What is he like? Vikash - To me, Farhad is a “the wind in your sails” kind of a friend. Loyal to a fault, honest to a T and eternally optimistic. It’s not so much that he sees the world through rose tinted glasses, to me it’s more that he he has a new lease of life. He too is awaiting the outcome of his asylum application and ever hopeful that it WILL pan out. He is an Afghan man and a Freddie Mercury superfan.
He’s not afraid to speak his mind and be unapologetically himself. He’s a man that’s not without his own traumas but it's that faith he has in things turning out for the best that made him such a delight to play. V: What research did you do in preparation for this role? Vikash - There was a lot of research that went into bringing Farhad to life. I met with the Afghan society in London, who were incredibly generous with their own experiences. Their time was invaluable. We’d meet regularly for about a month, during which time I also started learning to speak Dari, which helped a lot with the accent work I was doing. I worked with Neil Swain who was our wonderful accent coach. I’d listen to Queen almost every day. I watched interviews with Freddie Mercury, clips on YouTube of where I’d decided Farhad’s hometown was; you know it’s amazing the wealth of resources now available to us with the likes of YouTube. I could see what people wore, what the shops looked like, food people ate, you name it! I’d even go to some of my local Afghan restaurants to eat, that counts as research too, right?!
V: Were there any elements of Farhad that you added yourself? Vikash - Not sure which bits I’d added myself. I think I shaved some of my hair at the front to give myself a receding hairline during the audition process, they must have liked that because we kept it! To be quite honest with you, a lot was found in the moment - during rehearsals or putting on the costume designed by Holly Rebecca. I remember when Holly handed me the panda hat and we just looked at each other and thought ‘YES. Farhad would absolutely pick this up from the charity box!’. Most of the elements of his backstory I’d created myself, so although we don’t see much of that onscreen those experiences certainly shaped his behaviour and character.
V: The world is going through a crazy time. However, it’s given us all a chance to take a step back and appreciate the small things in life. Looking back on your time making this film, what inspiration did you take from your role? How does it feel to be sharing this story with the world? Vikash - During a screening at the Zurich International Film Festival there was a young man from Lebanon sitting in the audience. At the end he told us how much it meant to him to see his own experience portrayed on screen so truthfully. Moments like that you never forget. I hope we can reach more people in the same way. One take away for me from having played Farhad is to try and make the best of any situation and to find the beauty in the seemingly mundane. Especially in this “crazy time” that we are currently living through.
Try and make the best of any situation and find the beauty in the seemingly mundane. V: Last question - as this is a publication from Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was wondering if you have ever experienced any type of art from Argentina? Vikash - Does drinking Argentinian red wine count? I’ve not experienced as much as I’d like to. My taste in music is pretty eclectic - I have Misa Criolla by Mercedes Sosa in my Spotify library. A great listen when in need of a little creativity boost. Saw “Wild Tales/ Relatos Salvejes” by Damian Szifron a few years ago, darkly comical, right up my street! Any recommendations please send my way, would love to discover more.
LIMBO is coming to cinemas in the UK & Ireland from July 30.
Vikash Bhai Photographed by Michael Shelford
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i a h B h s a k Vi Photographed by Michael Shelford