Thursday, September 16

Lily Allen: From Chart-topping Bag Girl to the Heart of London’s West End | Iily Allen

THere in the background, sporting some pearl earrings, is 13-year-old Lily Allen dressed like a little bridesmaid. Movie audiences see Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth, when the film of that name came out in 1998, might have been concentrating on the queen’s courtly dance in the middle of the frame, but yes, it really was Allen playing a mini-royal favorite in director Shekhar Kapur’s lavish production. .

Now, more than two decades later, the 36-year-old singer-songwriter is taking center stage as an actress in the West End, appearing in a spooky new play. 2:22 – A ghost story, which opens this week.

Speaking about the show, Allen has said, “I can explore mature themes, be a woman with a real point of view, and show the West End audience how much I love live performances and being in front of an audience.”

It has never been a surprise to Allen’s friends and family that she became an animator, whether topping the charts as an Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter, or now pure drama. It’s also not surprising that she likes to play “a woman with a real point of view.” From the beginning, her surprisingly developed attitude was one of the key things this Hammersmith-born girl was going through. Talking with him From the observer Miranda Sawyer at the beginning of her journey to fame in 2006, Allen said that her confident singing performance at a school assembly had been a relief to everyone: finally, something she could do with all that precociousness.

There were many schools. More than a dozen. Allen’s parents were in show business and they were constantly on the go. Keith Allen, her father, has built a career on the basis of charismatic and haunting appearances on screen, from comic books to serial killer dramas. Last week it was revealed that he will soon be appearing alongside Vinnie Jones in a gangster movie called Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins.

A poster for 2:22 - A ghost story.  Lily Allen will be joined on stage by EastEnders star Jake Wood, City Of Angels actor Hadley Fraser and Silent House's Julia Chan.
A poster for 2:22 – A ghost story. Lily Allen will be joined on stage by EastEnders star Jake Wood, City Of Angels actor Hadley Fraser and Silent House’s Julia Chan. Photograph: Brochure / PA

His mother, film producer Alison Owen, traveled regularly for work and was often asked to uproot her three children, Sarah, Lily and Alfie, who is now an actor. For much of her childhood, her mother’s former partner, Harry Enfield, was an additional father, following Owen’s separation from Allen’s father in 1989. The singer and Enfield remain friends and were seen walking through London together to early this year. Rumors that their teens were the basis for Enfield and Kathy Burke’s perennial pubescent “Kevin and Perry” are partly true, though Allen claims his older sister was the true inspiration.

“I was a bag girl, so I don’t think I was in one place long enough to see my surroundings,” she told Sawyer in that first interview, at a time when she was hailed as the poster girl. from MySpace. the first social networking site. Her ideal future, she said, involved retiring from the entertainment business in her 30s. Have children. I really want to spend a lot of time with my kids and sit around the table every night, cook a Sunday barbecue, and grow pretty flowers. “

Sawyer, a great admirer of Allen’s talents, said that as an interviewer it was not necessary to be a child psychologist to detect the roots of Allen’s longing for stability in his unstable childhood.

Far from being retired, Allen, now a mother of two, will make her West End debut at the Noël Coward Theater on Tuesday. It’s not her only breakout role as an actress, having joined her brother and an all-star cast a couple of years ago to appear as Elizabeth Taylor in the Caitlin Moran movie. How to build a girl. This time, however, she will be on stage live with a cast of actors, including Hadley Fraser, Julia Chan, and Jake Wood. The opportunity to have such an experience has been a big part of the appeal: “The live performance aspect of my career has always been the most exciting part for me, connecting with a group of people and the spontaneity of what happens in the night. “

Allen plays a newlywed young woman who thinks her home is haunted in a play by Danny Robbins, creator of the recent hit podcast series. The Poltergeist of Battersea.

Keith Allen on the go-kart track in Clapham, South London, flanked by his daughter Lily and son Alfie on the 1994 TV show Time Out With… Keith Allen.
Keith Allen on the go-kart track in Clapham, South London, flanked by his daughter Lily and son Alfie on the 1994 TV show Time Out With… Keith Allen.
Photograph: Rex / Shutterstock

“Danny’s work is a brilliant investigation into the ghosts that haunt us and how and why they happen,” Allen said. “It’s everything I love; wit, a meditation on marriage, relationships and family, all centered around a terrifying plot. “

The curtain follows recent headlines about Allen’s public celebration of two years of sobriety. She tweeted a photo of a unicorn cake baked by a friend to mark the occasion. Twitter, Allen has admitted, may be the only problematic addiction he has yet to overcome.

It might not be too selfish to say that the Observer has helped Allen mark several scenic spots in his life. When asked recently what she thought she would be doing 10 years from now, she replied, “I’m probably interviewed by Miranda Sawyer, again… it’s about once a decade. I don’t know … my kids will be 15 and 16 so I’ll probably be out there banging [their] boyfriends or girlfriends “.

For his part, Sawyer’s admiration for Allen has only grown. (“She’s brilliant: honest, funny and smart, what can’t you like?”) But aside from that first prophetic interview, Allen also chose to speak to this newspaper in 2016 when he revealed the terrible impact of a stalker.

“I can’t stress how much it affected me,” Allen said two years ago. “After he broke in, I completely isolated myself from my entire social group and my family. He was too scared to go to any public event, because of course people would know he was there. And I had just separated from my husband, so I was really very, very lonely. He was legitimately terrified. I stayed home for about two and a half years. I went to the studio and that was it. “

Lily Allen and David Harbor attend the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California in 2020.
Lily Allen and David Harbor attend the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California in 2020. Photograph: Rich Fury / Getty Images

The multi-award winning singer with five million albums sold worldwide, not to mention the contagious debut single Smile forever in her backpack, has faced several other social demons in recent years. The Grenfell Tower fire sparked a period of campaigning for justice and, more controversially, greater honesty about the official death toll, which he initially believed was deliberately kept low.

Her work on this and other social justice issues, such as the #MeToo movement that protects women in the entertainment industry, has impressed more than one high-profile politician. Jeremy Corbyn is an avowed fan and so is David Lammy, who paid tribute to him this weekend. “Lily Allen has brought joy to many homes in Britain through her music, as well as showing an unwavering commitment to campaigning for the most just causes,” Lammy said this weekend. “She has never let her fame get in the way of her feminism or her support for underserved communities in this country and abroad. She epitomizes a genuine ally in an industry where looking the other way is too often seen as a surefire path to success. “

And what about that adolescent plan to bond with their children in family happiness? Well, shortly after their last album. Without shame was nominated for a Mercury Award and his memoirs My thoughts exactly became a bestseller, Allen agreed to marry a second time. Last year’s Las Vegas wedding to American actor David Harbor was prompted in part by a comment from his two daughters about his first marriage to Sam Cooper, Marnie and Ethel. Harbor, 46, said he was determined to be much more than “a guy in our lives.” As for Allen’s early retirement plan, he is not withdrawing payments yet.

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