I get this fuzzy feeling inside when I think about women chasing their dreams and creating the life they deserve. It takes guts, brawn and a slayer mindset to really commit yourself to doing what you love and not taking no for an answer. That's why I was thrilled when a friend brought Miss Munday to my attention. A talented actress who took a leap of faith and left UK life to embark on a new and exciting journey in New York. Gretel has found her place in the US and is building her career, taking every opportunity by the horns and also creating her own. From building a lasting sisterhood in the US, to having the support system of friends and family in the UK. Gretel is a testament to any woman who bets on them selves. You win, when you believe you can!.....
Welcome Gretel to Women Who Slay, thank you for featuring!
Firstly, I wanted to ask you how have you been keeping under lock down and what have you been doing to keep yourself pre-occupied?
I feel especially lucky in these crazy times to be in an apartment I love with people I love and able to still work on my craft. As a working actress I am constantly applying for roles, auditioning by self taping or Skype calls. It has really been my savior keeping me sane and busy at times. But I have really had time to reflect and say to myself and friends I am in contact with, that it is OK not to be productive constantly. These are uncertain times and because of that, sometimes you need to take time to relax and reflect. Self care is really important.
This current situation has in many ways created chaos within the entertainment industry as a whole. How are you adapting to this 'new normal' and what steps; if any have you taken to maintain a positive mindset through it?
I have had friends lose their jobs due to the closure of Broadway, and I myself have had several projects put on uncertain ‘hold’ due to the fact we don’t know when we truly will be out of this. However on the positive side of things, I have had a lot of time to audition, I have time to learn my lines for projects that will be happening in our post Covid world, and I have time to write my own short films to pursue the kind of strong female lead roles that I would love to see portrayed more in the industry.
We are in love with women who take a leap of faith to chase their dreams. A woman who slays is a woman who is ambitious and unapologetic in her life choices and is committed to living a no-limits life. You are the embodiment of that having left the UK to embark on a career in acting in the US. What made you decide to take this major step and why did you not choose to launch your career in the UK?
Something called me to New York. I never really could put my finger on it until after graduating as a trained actress and when l started really working in the industry in this city. This is exactly the place I am supposed to be. New York's’ hustle and pace is the perfect place for an acting career. It reflects in my work; I work harder, I work at a faster pace, I have so much more of a drive and truly believe it comes from living in this fabulous city. I have made connections here and true relationships with so many creative people that it has in return made me more creative. Reflecting back on auditioning in London, it felt like so many doors were closed to me whereas New York has never made me feel that way.
How did you begin to adapt to your new life in the US and what would you say are the best parts about living in New York?
Adapting to the hustle of the city was instinctual, it truly is electrifying. Funnily enough the things I had to actively adapt to were things like grocery shopping, the stores are so different! And kitting out a whole apartment…buying bedding was a complete feat of its own. Forget the word duvet, and duvet covers, its comforters, and comforter sets (?!?!) I actually cried my eyes out in a Bed Bath and Beyond, I was so overwhelmed, moving alone, to a city I had never visited, I started to completely question myself, two days in! Then the cashier said to me, “You’re not a true New Yorker, until you’ve cried in public” It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Ever since I have learnt to take the good with the bad and know that its earning me an experience that I will benefit from someday.
New York is so magical I have so many favorite places. Every neighborhood in Manhattan is phenomenal. I’ve had the best experiences from the steps of the MET, all the way down to Wall St. Last year I was lucky to be living on the Upper East side just blocks from Central Park. I was constantly seeing shows on Broadway, having cocktails alongside the Hudson in the summer! Every inch of Manhattan has new fun things to do, it's truly the best city in the world! I love when people visit, NYC’s No1 tour guide over here!
Congratulations on landing a series of commercial work, short films ad a lead in the feature film Grim; which is based on conspiracies between Law Enforcement and top government officials. (right up my street!). How long did it take you to begin landing acting opportunities in the US and how would you rate this overall experience so far?
Being an international student, I had to wait for my work permit to come through so I had a slight break between my graduation in April, and being able to even audition for roles! So August rolled around and I was then legally able to work in the US, and I booked my first commercial by the end of the month! It was a kick-starter into the world of professional sets and pursuing my love for acting on camera. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career. Since I have starred in several short films and am now having weekly readings for my first feature film role.
I was thrilled to read that you are a feminist and have forged a positive circle of like-minded women who are also pursuing their careers in acting; having left their countries to chase their dreams. Empowered women empower women and this is definitely the case for you. How vital have the support of these women been in you continuing to make the dream a reality?
Essential. I would not be the woman I am without the strong females around me. I have such a strong group of women, mainly actresses, who all share the same passion and drive for their own careers as I do for mine. It’s inspiring. And we are all there for each other when life has its ups and downs. We all actively try and reflect what we want to see in the world, which is women empowering women, helping each other achieve our wildest dreams. There’s room for all of us at the top, and we’re all gonna get there together.
So many women struggle to know what they want to become as they grow up. How and when did you know that you wanted to embark on a career in the arts and what were the action steps you took to moving it from an idea into an active realisation?
I knew from a really young age that acting was my passion. Some rejections from acting schools in London really led me down path a of questioning my worth and talent. It wasn’t until my acceptance to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts that I really took a step back and said, I gotta make this happen. I let the confidence boost of my acceptance push me to believe in myself. And I quickly realised I have the guts and the work ethic to do this; to uproot my life, move to another country and get the training I needed to excel in my career.
How supportive were your friends and family of your choice to go and live and work in the US?
I am so fortunate to have parents that support me unconditionally . All my family and friends had faith in me when I didn't have faith in myself. I even recall a conversation with my best friend after my academy audition, I was certain I wasn't going to get in. She told me to have a little faith and that she believed I was going to get accepted. A week later when I got my acceptance letter, she sent me a bouquet of flowers with a card that said“I told you so!”
No matter who you are or where you are from, there is no denying that sometimes life will present stumbling blocks and setbacks that can either make or break you. What challenges have you had to face in your life so far that have helped to make you who you are today?
I definitely feel like I've had heartbreaks that have at the time felt like my world had been shattered. It definitely came from seeking my own worth in others and trying to have a safety net. After realising I needed to set out on my own, to be independent and not rely on a guy in my life to feel wanted or create this ‘safe’ life. I was then able to focus on my career so much more, not plan out the rest of my life and then freak when it wasn’t going to plan. To become so much more myself, to be the strong woman I see in my mother and my close family friends. It helped me become who I am today, and I’m happy that it also welcomed the best relationship into my life too!
What drives and motivates you the most within your life and your career?
I really want to make some sort of change in the world, I don’t want to not have made an imprint. That's my drive and true motivation.
Who are your biggest cheerleaders?
My friends.T I truly could not live without them! Whether its face-timing the girls in the UK, my roommates over here in the US, or being accepted completely into my besties families on trips to their hometowns. I’ve been lucky to have been accepted into so many fabulous lives and to have met the most supportive and fabulous people!
What actors and actresses are your inspirations and why?
I take such inspiration from Reese Witherspoon. Her whole work ethic, the comedic roles she has been in, her production company that solely focuses on creating work for strong female-driven stories. From ‘Legally blonde’ to ‘Little Fires Everywhere’. The kind of career I would love to have. Other actresses I admire for their roles include Rachel McAdams, Emily Blunt, Allison Janney and Ellen Pompeo.
What would your dream character be?
Madeline from Big little Lies. The 'type A' on the outside looking like you have it all, but completely unraveling on the inside. Plus she’s confident and not afraid to stick up for her friends, an ultimate power woman!
Aside from acting, do you have any other talents that you may one day pursue?
In another life I would love to have a career in fashion. Vogue is the bible. I am the friend who always has the perfect outfit to borrow for that certain event or audition, I should have been a stylist!
I respect the fact that you actively participate in women's marches while in the US and last year marched against America's strict abortion ban! How important is it for your to stand for causes like this while pursuing your career?
I feel with this particular cause, It goes without saying that women should have the right to whatever they want to do with their own bodies and to take that right away is so antiquated and wrong, that’s why I attended the rally.
I also just know that in my industry, there is a real imbalance of women to men, whether it be female directors and producers, or storylines driven by women… not just as a love interest. That's one reason why I’m such a passionate feminist; I want to see more representation of women in the arts.
What has been the best advice you have been given so far in your career?
Such a simple one, always do your best. That's if you give it your best and it doesn’t work out, you can look back and have no regrets. I’ve applied this so much in my career, especially in an industry that is going to give you rejections. You can be proud of what you achieved, and move on to the next.
What advice would you give to our readers who may be scared of following their passions and embarking on a new beginning; whatever that may look like for them?
Take the Leap! Don’t tell yourself you’re not able. Oh and cry in public! It's freeing!
How can Women Who Slay readers keep up with you?
W | Interview by Sasha Shantel @women_who_slay_