Ahead of her first TV role airing Lily Allen has spoken to Sky News about why she’s moved from music to drama and how her own “dysfunctional” family helped inform her character.
In new comedy Dreamland she plays a woman returning to her family in Margate, who soon finds out she’s brought more than she expected home with her when she discovers she’s pregnant.
It’s not Allen‘s first acting gig, but it is her first TV role and the Brit Award-winning artist, who has lived much of her life in the public eye, says it’s given her a way to express herself while she takes a break from music.
“I feel like one of the reasons I’m not really writing music and putting it out there or spending a lot of time on social media is that it feels very heavy out there at the moment and I feel a bit too exposed and I feel a bit sensitive in that environment,” she said.
“I don’t really want to put myself out there and my experiences, but I still want to talk about the human experience and dive into those experiences a little bit more, try and make sense of the world I guess?
“And I think drama or drama comedy in this instance has enabled me to do that, it’s a different medium but it’s still doing the same thing – we’re just telling stories.”
Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts
Dreamland is about four sisters and explores the complexities of sibling relationships.
Despite growing up in a very different environment to her character – Allen is the daughter of the comedian and actor Keith Allen – she says there was still plenty to relate to.
“The sort of similarities and not the differences is obviously the things that I honed in on and, you know, my family is quite dysfunctional,” she laughed.
“So there was a lot for me to draw on there.”
Weaving serious issues in with comedy, the show isn’t all fun in the sun – tackling themes of racism, homophobia and misogyny.
Former Dr Who star Freema Agyeman plays Allen’s half-sister – and the only one of the four who isn’t white.
She told Sky News she was impressed by the way the more serious topics were handled.
“There’s a book, The Mixed Race Experienced by Natalie and Naomi Evans, who write about what it was like being mixed race growing up in Margate specifically,” Agyeman said.
“So that was very much pulled on and then, of course, I can identify with so much of that, but also have my own experiences that [the showmakers] were very open for me to share.
“I like it when it’s done with thought and care and collaboration, and I felt like that was happening here… You can’t deep dive into everything, but you can have discussions, or raise issues and address themes and hope that people will go away and think about that.”
Dreamland will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW from 6 April.