Isis Davis: ‘The internet can be a scary place. I’m grateful I didn’t have it as a child’

Isis Davis, 35, won the Best Script Award at the British Urban Film Festival for her screenplay Draw and recently joined the writing team for TV show Killing Eve. She has appeared in the BBC’s Silent Witness and Channel 4’s Electric Dreams and in the films Bruno and Lie Low.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I didn’t have any positive ambitions as a child — my desire was just to have a bad reputation, sadly. What led me to that point caused me to play out this damaged role for my early years, until I left London at 21.

Private school or state school? University or straight into work?
State school until I was 13, then I was excluded from mainstream school. I attended a pupil referral unit. When I left London, I re-educated myself, got my key skills, got a BTec [a vocational qualification] and went to university. I proudly got a first-class degree in performing arts from the University of Gloucestershire.

Who was or still is your mentor?
My dad. He got the worst of me as a troubled teen, but he’s always been by my side and supported me. Professionally, Sheila Mander, a theatre director, one of the practitioners who established the performing arts class at the university. She believed in me from day one. She really championed me and she directed my one-woman show This Is Who I Am.

How physically fit are you?
I go through phases of bingeing on the gym, signing up with a personal trainer and going hard for months. Or I can go the other way. I broke my foot so currently I’m not very fit.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
The mixture. Without ambition, talent can be wasted. Talent is a great start but you have to push forward.

How politically committed are you?
As a mixed-race, working-class gay woman, life is a political commitment. I stand very firm in my core social beliefs. I always want my children to know where we’ve come from as a family. Their start in life has come from the hard work and determination of both me and my wife. I want them to know that if they work hard, they can achieve their goals and dreams. I want them to be aware of social inequalities and stand up against them.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A holiday home in Ibiza.

What’s your biggest extravagance?
My eldest daughter’s birthday party plans. She’s only five but when she has a party, the next day she’s talking about what she wants to do the next year.

In what place are you happiest?
At home with my family.

What ambitions do you still have?
So many! As a performer, one of my dreams is a long run on stage in the West End — theatre was my first love, though I’m so grateful for all the screen work. As a writer, getting my own series greenlit is the ultimate goal.

What drives you on?
Seeing how far I’ve come and how many hurdles I’ve jumped. Knowing there’s still so much I want to achieve. And my kids — my two girls.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
My children and my little family.

What do you find most irritating in other people?
Unreliability and insincerity.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
She wouldn’t believe it could be true. She’d be relieved and overwhelmed that the hard times were going to come to an end, that change was going to happen, that she would live a happy life.

Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
Before the Cloud existed, the most heartbreaking thing was to lose a phone with photos on it that you could never get back.

What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Personally, protecting my children from the evils of the internet and social media. The internet can be a scary place. I’m so grateful I didn’t have it as a child.

Do you believe in an afterlife?
Yes. Don’t ask me what it looks like, though. I don’t believe there’s just nothing.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Eight. There’s so much more to come, to do, to achieve.

Isis Davis appears in ‘The Secret Garden’, available now on Sky Cinema on Demand

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