Virgin Q&A w/ Sinta & Anna-Kay
Mark Summers Casting recently cast the brilliant, new commercial for Virgin directed by Frederik Bond. Packed with iconic characters, it featured many of Mark Summers Management’s talented performers including Anna-Kay Gayle and Sinta Soekadarova who fill us in on what really went down, behind-the-scenes.
Q. Was it a lengthy casting experience? Were there Callbacks?
Anna-Kay: There were two stages. I organically auditioned for the female warrior, but got a recall for the prisoner roll. I was thankful that I did a good enough job that they considered me for another role.
Sinta: I was not in the country for the initial casting, as I was teaching a retreat in Croatia. On my way home from the airport I received a message from Sarah at Mark Summers Management if I could come in the next morning for the recalls, as the role of the warrior queen was not cast yet. Super charged and empowered from the retreat the role reflected exactly how I felt in that moment!
The recall was super fun – movement director Aaron Sillis made us really play with the character, experimenting with many different forms of expression.
Q. What are your backgrounds? Are you an actor, dancer, model or multi-talented hyphenate?
Anna-Kay Gayle: I am a dancer and model, but have studied drama and performing arts. I have used my acting skills much more in the past year in auditions and castings.
Sinta: I started modelling while still in school; I was lucky to experience stage, film, TV, commercials and fashion shows.
After being in the business for many years, I qualified as a PT, Natural Movement Coach and yoga teacher. I love to share how to live a sustainable, happy, healthy lifestyle where you find joy in everything, and therefore draw the most out of life.
Q. Did you both train? Still training? Or learning on the job?
Anna-Kay: I believe you are always a student, I always danced in mainly Dancehall because it is a big part of my culture, but when I was 18 I started my formal dance training at Lewisham College, and then moved on to London Contemporary Dance School.
Sinta: I completed musical theatre stage school in Germany, where I grew up. My nature is never to stop learning, so I believe you are always in training, either perfecting the skills you have, or learning new ones.
Being 43 now, curiosity is what keeps me young and then opportunities flow. At the moment my playground is aerial skills; I love flying and making shapes in the air. In fact, the love for that was fuelled when filming a Baileys commercial a few years back – also for BBH advertising who created this Virgin campaign. And I was suspended on wires and flew into the glass of Baileys at the end!
Q. How was the actual experience of filming?
Anna-Kay: It was very fun to work on such a large production with so many cast.
Sinta: The filming days were scheduled like clockwork. Firstly, we had two days of rehearsals in a dance studio, to create groups and experiment with how the proposed shots could work. Most of the featured characters came from London, and there were also dancers and actors from Prague.
When we came on set for the actual filming, it was make-up/hair, wardrobe and then running the proposed scene on set. I was in awe of director Frederik Bond; he has such creative magical vision. As we shot the on-site editor edited as we went along, so there was a rough edit of the finished commercial by the time we wrapped the shoot.
Q. What was the hair prep & wardrobe?
Anna-Kay: I have a shaved head so not much got done to my hair. However, I was in wardrobe for almost 3 hours the second day because I was being mummified. That was an experience I will never forget.
Sinta: First wardrobe call was at Angels in North London, but the warrior queen dress was specially made – it weighed about 15 kg in real metal.
Q. Where did you shoot and what was best part of that?
Anna-Kay: We shot it in Prague, it is always a blessing to do what I love, but also get the opportunity to travel and see new cities. The hotel was amazing and a short walk away from the main tourist attractions.
Sinta: I am half Czech and the hotel was two minutes away from where my grandparents had lived. The job couldn’t get any better for me, having time off to see old friends as well as showing a few of the English cast some traditional restaurants.
Also, I am an ambassador for Vivobarefoot, a British barefoot shoe company. I teach the principles of how all movement, misalignments and most injuries are because of weakness in the feet. I produce their photographic campaigns and model for them. They have a flagship store in Prague with me on the wall. I got to see that too!
Q. Anything that surprised you about this production?
Anna-Kay: I was surprised at the amount of talent that was involved and the size (height) of some of the Vikings; I felt so small.
Sinta: The set had three walls of LED lights and a big floor space for the action. There were a lot of special effects: Usain Bolt, their brand ambassador, was projected onto the wall and a lightshow synchronised with the music and the video.
Ben Turner, from the Baileys campaign, was pinning markers and lines, so it could all be synched in post-production.
Q. Anything learned you’d like to share with our readers?
Anna-Kay: Don’t get too comfortable and embrace change; there were a lot of changes on set and within each take.
Sinta: I was so inspired by the talent, artistry and teamwork involved. Everyone was absolutely passionate about what they were doing so that it didn’t feel like work. It was an honour to work with Frederik Bond, and choreographer Aaron Sillis who brought out our individual strengths and made each artist shine. What is done in love is done well!
Q. Where are you both hoping & planning to go from here?
Anna-Kay: I am hoping to do more commercials using both my dance and acting skills.
Sinta: I would love to work with Frederik and Aaron again. I am also so grateful to Mark Summers Management for making this experience possible, as well as so many others in the past- you absolutely rock!
One of the things on my bucket list is a Bond girl/luxury car commercial, so let’s go 2018.
See more of Sinta here: https://youtu.be/XniOJbxaoRU
Insta/Twitter : Sintasworld
Facebook : Sintasworld / Sinta Soekadarova
Insta/Twitter for Anna-Kay: gayleannakay
By Clea Myers @camtweak
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