'This Country’ star Daisy May Cooper talks about making it big: ‘Life after RADA was very bleak’

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4 min read
'This Country' star Daisy May Cooper struggled to find work after she first left university (Getty Images)
'This Country' star Daisy May Cooper struggled to find work after she first left university (Getty Images)

Daisy May Cooper may now have two BAFTAs and a hit comedy series to her name, but when she first left the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), life was a lot harder.

The This Country actress, who was recently seen on Celebrity Gogglebox, was chatting to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time about her path to success and one particularly low time when she visited her local job centre.

“I think one of the bleakest was going into the job centre actually after finishing RADA,” she told Thornton.

“I went to the job advisor and I just thought… I shouldn't be here. I am somebody. I don't want to be claiming jobseeker's allowance, I want to be out there pursuing my dream, but I just am at rock bottom.”

To make matters worse the only jobs on offer were a Father Christmas in a shopping centre, a DJ in a club in Cheltenham or a kitchen porter at a local curry house.

“He phoned up the curry house and they said ‘Sorry, the job's taken’” she recalled.

Read more: This Country's Paul Cooper based Martin Mucklowe on serial killer Fred West

“Over 40 people had applied for the pot wash job and that made me think if it’s that hard to get a pot wash job, then I've got to put my energy into the acting and doing something that I want to do rather than fighting the f*****s to work. I think that was like a kind of massive moment for me!”

She continued: “I never kind of wanted a full-time job because I knew that if I did, like if I got a retail job or something, that would be the end because I would be comfortable there, and then I wouldn't ever change my life.”

Daisy May Cooper said it was hard to see her RADA contemporaries like James Norton doing so well (Getty Images)
Daisy May Cooper said it was hard to see her RADA contemporaries like James Norton doing so well (Getty Images)

What didn’t help either is that many of Cooper’s RADA contemporaries were working, appearing on TV or in films, straight after graduating.

“All my kind of peers have gone on to be really successful,” she told Kate. “My friend, Alex [Roach], who was in my year, was in the Margaret Thatcher film [The Iron Lady]. James Norton had gone off and done all these amazing things - and I was back home and I was having to go into the job centre.”

Read more: James Norton responds to ‘crazy’ James Bond speculation

In an Instagram post from last year, Cooper references the time that she and her brother Charlie were sharing a room and living off Tesco Value noodles. It was also the time that they wrote their hit comedy ‘This Country’

“It was just so bleak - and I don't actually know what got us through,” she said. “We just had this kind of unbelievable faith like that something had to go our way at some point, because everything had been so s**t like that - this perpetual kind of optimism. I don't know where that came from, but you kind of have to have that to get yourself through.”

Now her position allows her to champion new talent – and she really does believe that you can do anything you put your mind to, even if it’s not a path you previously thought was open to you.

“Everybody has a talent,” said the Cirencester-born actress. “Everybody has something that they're really good at, but you only have a certain amount of subjects that are at school.

“Especially in small places, there's a lot of small mindedness. It's like the thought of even doing acting if you come from where we did - it's like, don't even think about it!

“I just wish that there was kind of more encouragement and that kids know that if you're not academic, then it doesn't matter - you can do anything!”

Hear Daisy May Cooper talk more about working with her brother and why she’s hoping for a commercial deal with Greggs in this week’s episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.