Turning up at a homely flat in South London to meet Hollywood actress Debra Lamb for the first time during her recent stay in Great Britain excites me, because not having met somebody before is what makes interviewing them all the more intriguing, but more importantly authentic.
In her fifties now (so the Internet tells me); I don’t want to ask her age, I am not sure if this is due to adhering to politeness rules, or because I am taken aback by her stark nudity… but I imagine most women half her age would probably admit to envying her body, as well as her confidence.
I recognise the actress instantly – her face that is, but her fantastic figure has also graced the screen many times. Debra has nearly seventy film credits to her name; you only have to check out YouTube to see various versions of herself from over the years.
I ask her, ‘how would you describe your acting career in just one sentence?’
“That is really hard… [pause] What a wild ride it’s been… [longer pause, this time with a pensive expression, she asks for suggestions through a giggle before continuing]. I am just so happy that as I embarked on my acting career I didn’t really think about it and I didn’t think how impossible it actual is to be an actor and I just went for it and did it, and here I am.”
Debra is tiny in stature but bursting with big energy; an energy that is vibrant yet at the same time calm and collected. We briefly discuss her assets as she climbs into a cocktail dress, which is too loose for her small frame; far from fazed, Debra suggests posing for the photographer wearing nothing except her body ink, or in one of her own corsets that she has placed across the back of the daybed in the room.
Russell Hand the photographer usually shoots on film by a tradition of his art but chooses to shoot most of Debra’s photos today digitally, using the natural light flooding through the French doors and large windows of the top floor Woolwich apartment. The outside view is a combination of murky Thames waters and fifty shades of grey London skies. Russell’s aim is to capture the inner and outer beauty of Debra, with subtle sexiness, including Debra’s wealth of experience as an actress.
How have you lasted so long in the acting world?
“Self believe and passion are the top important things going into this industry, but you also have to be prepared… your passion, your drive, your self-propulsion will get you there… but then you have to turn up and you have to perform too. YOU HAVE TO BRING IT!”
Kelli Waldock, industry hair and makeup artist spends several minutes discussing Debra’s look, and Debra makes it clear that she likes to apply a little makeup before a makeup artist gets to work, just so they can see how she likes it done, paying particular attention to her eyebrows.
Kelli tells me, as she cleanses the actresses skin, “Sometimes there is a tight brief and other times it is completely up to the MUA, but because this is a shoot and interview about Debra herself then it is good to have her signature look, and it is helpful too… quite a few people swear by their own brand and favourite colour of lipstick for example, even some bridal clients.”
Debra appears to enjoy the pampering and snaps a few selfies of having her hair styled and makeup applied.
To the team’s delight, Belinda, designer of Beyond Burlesque, arrives with a plethora of skirts and corsets that fit Debra like a glove.
Russell shoots inside the flat, moving a few items on the wall to create the composition he is looking for, and he also shoots some in the basement garage using the little natural light available and the headlights from his own car to shine a spotlight and cast a shadow. These images are reflective of his distinct artistic style of photography and show Debra in a strong, sexy, but mysterious light. Debra definitely shines and proves she was born to be in front of the camera.
The outfits show off her sexuality, but also a demure, rockiness that seems to sum up her overall persona… a free loving, wild woman with a sense of fun about her, yet a grounding knowledge too; a wisdom that can only be gained from years of working in this tough industry we have already started to discuss.
Why is it tough to get into the performance industry?
“You have to have total belief that it is your destiny, because like any career there is competition, but anything in the arts is extra harder… and there is more rejection, so staying in the industry can be hard.”
Do you like competition?
“A certain amount of competition is healthy, but when you are routing for a fellow performer then it gives you a certain type of energy… being angry about someone else getting the part is not going to give you the right energy to propel you forward… [wide eyed and passionate] Your energy will shine through and people will want to be around you. There is room enough for us all to be successful. There is room enough for us all to have our dreams come true.”
What really inspires you Debra?
“When I see acts of bravery and love these are the most inspirational moments for me! Love! The love is a form of collective consciousness and we are all in this together. The great acts of kindness that one human or one group of people will do for other people that is what truly inspires me.”