The Syndicate star Liberty Hobbs chatted about starring as Gemma in Season 4, currently airing on BBC One.
In the long-running drama, Liberty plays the major role of ‘Gemma’, one of five dog kennel workers who win the lottery. The cast also includes Gaynor Faye, Mark Benton, Neil Morrissey and Kym Marsh, among others.
As well as her current work on The Syndicate, Liberty has also worked across the pond on US television dramas, which is discussed in this interview.
Liberty is on Instagram: @libertyhobbs.
Who or what first inspired you to pursue acting as a career and were you worried about the competitive nature of the industry when starting out?
LH: I don’t think there was ever anyone or anything that inspired me to where I said “Oh I am going to be an actor now”. I never had that aha moment, I have just always wanted to be an actor. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t want to do this for a living. I always say it’s just something I came out of the womb wanting to do.
I was for sure worried about how competitive it is, I still am, but I think that my persistence gets me through that and in those moments of concern I just remember how much I love my job and that’s what keeps me going.
You have worked on American network TV (Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds) as well as in the UK. How would you describe the similarities or differences between the two?
LH: I get asked this a lot and essentially, the industry at its core is the same no matter where you go. However, I think there are a few little differences between working in LA and the UK. Working in LA is much more fast paced and things happen on a quicker schedule and I think that’s because the culture of America is very work orientated, whereas in the UK we are a bit better at balancing our personal lives with our jobs.
Also, little things like the terminology used on set in the UK is different than what I am used to in LA and so I found myself asking what the equivalent was so that I knew what I was doing.
Currently, you’re starring as ‘Gemma’ in Season 4 of The Syndicate on BBC One. How was the process of landing this role?
LH: It’s actually a really cool story! After I sent in my audition tape, my agent called me the next day and said that the casting director, David Shaw and Kay Mellor really liked it. Kay was in New York working on something else and was wondering if I was willing to fly out there to meet her to discuss the role. I was like heck yeah, so I went for the meeting in New York and chatted about the role and the show and a week later, once I was back in LA, I found out that I booked it. Definitely an audition experience I’ll never forget!
To what extent would you say you are similar or different to Gemma?
LH: I actually have a lot of things in common with Gemma. When I first saw the breakdown for the role, it said she was from Hull and that she loved dogs. I was like okay, this is very me. We share a lot of her characteristics which is really what drew me to her and made me feel like I was essentially playing myself in a lot of ways. I would say that our style choices differ quite a bit, but I did learn to love her outfits and headband co-ordination.
Along with the other Syndicate members, Gemma works at a dog kennel. Are you much of a dog person in real life, or were they a challenge to work with on set?
LH: Oh 100% yes! I love dogs…all animals really! My dog sadly passed away not so long ago and he was my best friend for 15 years, so it was really healing for me to be around all those dogs every day on set. I loved every minute of it.
What did you most enjoy about bringing Kay Mellor’s writing to life?
LH: For me, it was the fact that I was able to create Gemma from the ground up. Kay had created such a well- rounded character so the fun part was that I was able create all her little idiosyncrasies and character traits that are not written on the page.
As part of your role on the show, you are in many scenes with four other primary actors. How did the five of you, as actors, bond in real life to convey the characters’ friendship on-screen?
LH: Well, because of COVID, we weren’t able to go anywhere on our days off so we just spent it together, which allowed us to become friends in real life and I think that genuinely shows on screen. I believe that was a real asset to us because I don’t think we would have been as close as we are if it wasn’t for the fact that we were confined to our apartment building and seeing each other 24/7.
In addition to those cast members, well-established actors such as Neil Morrissey, Gaynor Faye and Mark Benton star in this season of The Syndicate. How was your experience of working with them?
LH: Oh I loved every minute of it. I learned so much from all of them. Mark Benton is a comedic genius and the amount of times we all cracked up in the middle of a scene because of something he did during the take is countless. Gaynor is incredible to watch, the way she handles a dramatic scene is brilliant to me. Neil is just amazing! I learned so much from him just by watching him on set. I hope to work with them all again one day.
What advice would give to anyone who wants to become an actor professionally, or is just starting out?
LH: First, I would say if it is truly what you want to do then don’t let anyone stop you and never give up because this industry has a way of weaning out those who are not strong enough to keep going. If it’s practical advice you are looking for, I would say take any and every acting class you can and just learn and absorb everything. In those classes is where you will meet the people that will help you reach your goals.
Aside from your work on The Syndicate, what else do you hope to accomplish in 2021?
LH: COVID has definitely stopped a lot of work in this industry, as it has in every industry, so hopefully now that we have the vaccine, more productions can get back up and running and I can get back on set working on my next project.