Andrea Ware was sitting in her apartment in East Vancouver explaining how she came to book her latest role as Lucky, the tough, take-no-prisoners female resistance fighter in the hit show, Van Helsing.
“I've never played anyone so tough,” she said proudly, giving thanks to her gun, which she says is the biggest on set. “Lucky also wears a bandana without fail every day, so it’s pretty easy to get into the mindset of that character,” she laughs.
“For this role, they wanted someone physically unique — they needed a strong, powerful and tall woman — and since I’m just over 6ft tall, this was a character I immediately gravitated towards.”
Andrea went on to talk about the trials and tribulations for an actress who frequently towers above her male co-stars.
“Being over 6ft tall in the movie industry has its ups and downs, she says. “90 percent of the time my height plays a part in the story — which is the high. The lows — I don't fit into every story. I have lost out on roles for being too tall, but I'm okay with that because I'm proud of my differences. When I see fellow high and mighty female actresses killing it, I love it.”
I ask her if there are any strong female leads in the film industry she sees as role models. Without hesitation, she answers, “Gwendoline Christie. I met her once back in a London at an honorary dinner for the late John Hurt, and she rocked up with designer, Henry Holland, wearing one of his pieces — a pink lycra cow print dress paired with killer 6inch heels. I looked up to her then and I still do now!”
Andrea has kept herself firmly planted in two very different worlds. She’s both the hugely talented, tremendously focused actress with her sights set firmly on a long-term career in the film industry, and the small-town girl flying back home to catch up with family at any given opportunity.
But just like her character, she’s a confident “lone wolf” — and it was her fierce independence that first pushed her to book a one-way ticket to Vancouver, where she has lived for over five years now. Originally from a tiny English village in West Wellow, Hampshire, Andrea had the connection to Vancouver because her parents had lived here for a period of time in the ‘80s, and chose the city for its growing film industry.
Andrea had been passionate about a career in acting long before moving to Vancouver, though. After completing a three-year Performing Degree at London Metropolitan University, she got the news she’d been hoping for.
“The day I handed in my final dissertation, I found out I’d booked a role on a BBC show — which really was the best day ever,” she said. “The show was called ‘After You've Gone’ and starred Nicholas Lyndhurst. It was a great first professional gig.”
Following that, she landed a role in the Ridley Scott adaptation of Robin Hood. “It was a complete dream,” beams Andrea. She continued to act in London, dabbling in both film and theatre. When I asked her to talk about the comparability between acting in London and in Vancouver, she told me they’re completely different.
“London is obviously huge,” she said. “The talent pool is large and there’s also far more variety since you’ve got film and theatre. It’s mostly TV and film over here, but I would say it's more manageable. I’ve also made amazing friends and connections in Vancouver.
“I find you can get lost in London and it’s a little more of a hard graft. Having the accent makes things a little easier though.”
Being in a similar situation myself, I asked Andrea if she plans on moving back home in the near future.
“Moving to a new place, you’re always going to be torn between your home country and your new country,” she said. “I never say I’ll be in one place forever, but I do love traveling — especially if work takes you to a new place.”
I ask her about the most unique place she’s traveled to.
“I visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia,” she replies. “It’s considered an unwritten wonder of the world and it’s this incredible hidden ancient city with miles of temples. The roots of the trees that surround the temples cascade over some of the ruins,” she says, excitedly.
Andrea continues to tell me about a gap year she took before University, where she visited South East Asia and New Zealand.
“I also have a trip booked for Columbia next summer for my cousin’s hen party,” she laughs. “But a lot of my travel is going back to England when I have time off.”
Her current home, in British Columbia, Canada, also happens to be the shooting location for Van Helsing. Andrea tells me that much of the show was shot on location outside of a studio.
“The locations include Metro Vancouver, as well as outside areas like Langley and Surrey,” she said.
“Shooting on location brings a truthful element to the story — especially with what’s happening in the show, which is largely centered around the survival of characters.”
While the first season, which drew comparisons to The Walking Dead, received mixed reviews, the second series — in which Andrea joined the cast — has been rather more well-received. The season two premiere sees Vanessa, who is played by Kelly Overton, standing before the daughter she’s devoted every waking hour to finding (for those who missed the season one finale *spoiler alert* Vanessa’s daughter Dylan was has been turned into a vampire and she’s trying to free her from a vampire’s clutches).
But how easy will it be for Vanessa to recover her daughter, and what other secrets are buried about the Rising, the Van Helsing heritage, and the survival of humankind? Watch Van Helsing on the SyFy channel* on Thursdays 9/8c to find out and see Andrea and the rest of the cast in action.
*Van Helsing will also be available on Netflix in the new year.