Emily Atack on her struggle to be taken seriously an an actor: 'We were aiming for the wrong target'

Amy West
·Contributor
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12:  Emily Atack attends the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards 2019 at The Royal Festival Hall on May 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Emily Atack has revealed he was hard to shake off her earlier roles when trying to pursue more "serious" acting. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Emily Atack has opened up about her struggles within the acting industry, from transitioning to more serious roles after years of playing the “sexy girl” to the pressures surrounding body image.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the former I’m a Celeb... Get Me Out of Here! contestant touched on how her first major role as popular girl Charlotte Hinchcliffe in comedy series The Inbetweeners influenced how casting directors saw her from then on.

“I was getting all of these glamorous, sexy, girl-next-door-type roles, and that’s great,” the 29-year-old began. “I was all: ‘Hey, I’m sexy!’ Posing in my pants. But you can’t do that for ever.

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“You especially can’t do that, if – like me – you love going to the pub and you love Christmas Day dinners every weekend. The point is, my body was becoming way more womanly, and I wasn’t looking like the girl next door any more.”

She went on to explain that what she was looking for, were roles that were a little more diverse. You know, “police officers” and things like that.

“I did this whole thing of going: ‘I want to be taken seriously as an actor, I don’t want to be this pin-uppy type any more, I’m going to dye my hair brown and try and do that. I’m an actor now.

“[But] once you’ve cemented a vision in people’s minds of what you are in the industry, that’s the only way people see you.”

Atack continues, saying that her years of trying to break the mould she’d found herself was like “trying to get into a party I just wasn’t invited to.” But that she was still getting offers to do light entertainment and one day, she decided that that’s where she should be focusing her effort.

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“You know what? This is the party I’m going to go to, where I’m invited, and where I can be the best version of myself that I can be,” she recalled thinking at the time.

“I had to be honest with [my agency] and just be like: ‘Guys, I’m not trying to be the next Keira Knightley. Let’s stop banging on this door. We were aiming for the wrong target.’”

Nowadays, Atack has found a way to combine her comedy leanings with more serious issues, like in her recent stand-up tour Talk Thirty To Me and new documentary series Adulting - which started on W last night (Wednesday 26 June).

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The latter is set to see her explore different subjects from dating and parenthood and reliance on social media. One episode will tackle body image issues; something that Atack admits to finding a challenge.

“I so badly want to sit here and go: ‘I love my body.’ But I can’t lie and say it doesn’t upset me when I get called fat,” she told the publication. “If I wasn’t in the industry and I just had a regular job, working in an office, I would probably love the way I look.”