‘CORRIE’ STAR SAMIA A REAL ‘SHOW’ STOPPER
For the fifth year in a row now, husband and wife team Anthony and Kara Kearns have produced what has become a must-save date on the social calendar in the midlands. Not only has fashion extravaganza THE SHOW become one of the most glam and fun-filled nights of the year, but more importantly, it’s become an event that raises significant funds for local charities, with Offaly Search & Recovery and Jigsaw being this year’s beneficiaries. With Guy Clothing brand ambassador Mike Denver on board, as well as KODE’s Grainne Walsh, and a host of other celebrities giving up their time to walk the catwalk, THE SHOW has become a perfect embodiment of community spirit at its very best.
This year, THE SHOW, which was once again safe in the hands of M.C. Brian Cunningham (himself a veritable Mr. Showbiz!) was delighted to welcome to Tullamore
CORONATION STREET stars SAMIA LONGCHAMBON who plays the character of Maria in the world-famous soap, and Samia‘s colleague, MIKEY NORTH, who plays Gary. We were delighted to have the chance to spend a little time in Samia‘s company before the night got underway. And as so often seems to be the way, the bigger the star, the kinder they are with their time, and the more delightful they are to chat to. Samia was definitely all of these; a huge star, wonderfully kind, and a delight to interview.
Being one of the most instantly recognisable faces on television, Samia has taken part in loads of other celebrity shows, perhaps most famously Dancing On Ice, of course. But as the waiting crowd outside the doors of the Bridge House ballroom continued to grow and grow, and looked like filling the entire lobby area at one point, I wondered if this was Samia‘s first time doing a fashion show anywhere?
“No, it’s not actually. I’ve not done one for years and years, but I used to do a charity campaign years ago, gosh…I’m going back about fifteen years ago! We used to hold a ladies lunch every year at Christmas, so we used to always do a bit of a fashion show as well. But I’ve not done it since then, so it’s been a long time!”
Was she looking forward to her turn on the runway?
“I am! I’m a bit nervous, actually!”
Why, I wondered, would one of soap’s biggest stars be nervous?
“I don’t know. We’re not used to ‘live’ audiences with what we do [laughs]. It’s always just in a studio. We don’t really perform in front of an audience very much.”
Now we all know Samia as ‘Maria’, the character she portrays so excellently in Coronation Street, but just how quickly can Samia get into character, and actually become ‘Maria’?
“Oh gosh. I think it’s the whole process once I get into work. I have my hair and make-up done, put Maria’s costume on, and I think once I’ve got all that, I kind of feel more like Maria anyway. So yeah, it just takes that to happen, really.”
Having played Maria for twenty years now, does ‘Maria’ feel like an actual person in Samia‘s life now? Can Samia think of Maria as someone separate to herself, for instance, as opposed to a character who only exists because of Samia?
“Oh absolutely, yeah. I look like Maria, but hopefully that’s where the similarity ends [laughs]. I do, I care for her, and I care for the character in a way. I think we’ve both kind of grown up together, it’s been so long.”
With Samia saying she cared about the character of Maria, I wondered how invested she could become in that character without it possibly affecting her real life in some ways from time to time?
“Well I try not to let it do that, affect my real life. On my drive home, I usually, especially if I’ve been filming sad scenes, I tend to put some happy music on in the car and then just forget about it all [laughs].”
Samia is one of THE most famous characters in one of THE most famous soaps in all the world. But is there a flip side to that? Might that same fact stop Samia from doing other things, like films maybe, given that the time commitment to Corrie is huge?
“No, not really. But you know what, we’re not really allowed to do too much else. And to be honest, we don’t have time. But for me, Corrie is great because it’s in my hometown, and I get to go home to my family every night, which is the most important thing for me. So I don’t really think of any down-side to being in Corrie. It’s like having another family in a way. I love it.”
Samia‘s little girl, Freya, has already been described by Samia as a future actress, with her ability to call forth tears in a matter of seconds cited as one reason why…
“Oh absolutely, Freya knows how to work it! She really does! [laughs].”
So would Samia like to see Freya eventually follow her into showbiz one day, perhaps?
“Do you know what? I just want her to be happy, and to do what she wants to do. So whatever she wants to do, I’ll encourage her. But I’m not gonna actively push her into this business, because I know it’s a really tricky business – to not alone grow up in – but to stay in for the long-term. But whatever she wants to do, I’ll encourage her.”
When did Samia first notice that little spark of an actor in Freya?
“Oh it’s always been there! She’s always been great at cryin’! [laughs]. She can just turn on the tears in like a second, she’s really good! [laughs].”
A few years ago when the character of Maria was going through a really intense period, Samia said that for her, in real-life, it was like eighteen months of pure misery. I wondered if she’d found a way to balance or counteract what happens with Maria on-screen and herself, Samia, off-screen?
“Like I say, I just put my music on in my car. And also, I try to learn all my lines at work, and not take it home with me. I think that always helps. And especially having a family now. Freya is ten, and my son Yves is four, so it’s important for me to just be their mum when I’m at home. And not be Maria! [laughs].”
Samia must have one of the most beautifully named families I’ve ever heard of. Her own name, of course. And then her husband, Sylvain, and her children Freya and Yves…
“Aaaw, bless! It’s a bit confusing for some people, though, our names, we have to spell them out to everyone and pronounce them all the time [laughs].”
And as fate would have it, I needed Samia‘s help in pronouncing the surname of her best-friend and Corrie co-star, ‘Kirk’, or Andy Weyment (I was fairly close! Haha). At the time of our chat, Andy was stuck in the Australian jungle, on his way to finishing as runner-up in this year’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Had Samia a chance to keep up to date with how Andy had been getting on up to that point?
“Yeah! Gosh, we’re all glued at work! We’re all chatting about it then the next day! Hopefully – touch wood – he’s doin’ really well, so I think he stands a really good chance of becoming King of the Jungle!”
Was Samia surprised that he went on the show? Is he the kind of guy who would always have been up for something like that?
“Yeah, he is. We’ve all known at work for a while, but obviously we’ve not been able to say anything. But we’ve had lots of chats with him about it, and he’s been properly prepared for it! He’s just goin’ in and gonna have fun, and enjoy the experience.”
Would Samia ever chance it herself?
“Ooooh, I want to say never say never! Because I said I’d never do Dancing On Ice, and I did it! [laughs]. But at the moment, the thought of eating cockroaches doesn’t appeal! But who knows in the future?! I don’t know! [laughs].”