Emily Atack: ‘I still receive criticism for talking openly about sex, men do it and get a gold star’

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  • Emily Atack talks typecasting, online harassment and her hopes for women in TV. Not to mention her hilarious new programme, The Emily Atack Show...

    Emily Atack is the dream role model – hilarious, hard-working, smart, independent, brave and according to everyone ever, she’s absolutely lovely – something I will personally vouch for.

    So, when it was announced that she had created her own female-fronted comedy, The Emily Atack Show, it came as no surprise that we all tuned in.

    If you’re one of the few who hasn’t, go catch up now on ITV.

    What can you expect from the sketch show? Emily’s uncanny impressions, unfiltered skits about life as a young woman and a lot of laughs, with each episode covering a different theme, from dating and friends, to image and growing up.

    Styled by our very own Fashion Editor Sarah-Rose Harrison, expect playful yet empowering stage looks from Emily within the series. The red Reformation dress Emily wears in the promo, has already sold out twice.

    Emily and her new show are just the tonic for everyone’s mood right now, and when she’s not dominating the screen, she’s speaking up about wildly under-discussed issues and using her platform to call out injustice.

    We’re here for it and we wanted to find out more.

    Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot caught up with the incredible Emily Atack to talk typecasting, her hopes for women in TV and what we can expect from the female-fronted Emily Atack Show

    How have you found the past few months?

    It’s been a crazy, sad but bittersweet few months for me. It has been the most successful year I’ve ever had career-wise, but it’s happening at such a weird time. My heart breaks for every single person on the planet. Happiness is so limited at the moment, but I’m so lucky to be working, and that I’m healthy, and if you have those two things then that is all we can ask for right now. We need to all keep strong, be kind and get through it together as best we can.

    Congratulations on your new show! What can we expect from The Emily Atack Show?

    Thank you! I can’t quite believe that it’s my name above the door. It’s been such a life long dream of mine, so it’s surreal to have it finally out there. I’d describe it more like ‘an audience with’. The show is a mix of stand up, skits, impressions and sketches which are all based on life as a young woman. I’ve tried to include my own experiences along with what everyone else goes through when reaching adulthood. Each episode is based on a particular theme, such as Dating, Friends, Family, Adulting, Going Out, and Image. I’d say it was mischievous, cheeky and not one to watch in front of your mum and dad!

    Credit: Monkey/ITV2

    What was your favourite part of the process?

    I would say getting to work with all the magnificent and talented writers, actors, producers, wardrobe and everyone who was involved in bringing my vision to life. Seeing it all come together into a show that I’ve always wanted to make was just a dream come true.

    Why was it important for you to create a female-fronted comedy?

    I’ve grown up with a wonderful, talented family. I would say my mum has always been my biggest inspiration with her successful career in comedy, which became a huge part of my childhood. I grew up idolising all these other incredible female comediennes such as Kathy Burke, Tracey Ullman, Victoria Wood and Dawn French who all made me laugh to the points of tears, and I wanted to be just like them.

    Have you encountered discrimination throughout your career?

    There were definitely moments in my career where I noticed I was being type cast. After I got my break playing pin-up girl Charlotte in The Inbetweeners, the work that was coming in off the back of that show all felt very one dimensional. I know people look at me and put me in a box. If you’ve posed in lads’ mags in your pants, you get pigeon-holed, ALOT. But I know I am a good person, I’m not a dick. I want to assure all young girls out there that you can still have blonde hair, fake tan and big boobs to have a dream and still be taken seriously.

    It’s still very hard of course, and I still receive negative criticism because I am a woman who talks openly about sex, and one night stands and getting drunk. Just because we are women, it doesn’t make us disgusting or dirty slags, it’s a part of everyday life. But men do it and have done for years, but yet they get given a gold star.

    Credit: Monkey/ITV2

    Why was it important for you to speak openly about experiencing harassment and abusive cyber messages?

    Since I spoke publicly about what I was experiencing – and I am still receiving these sorts of messages by the way – the response has been phenomenal. My stomach was in knots before I spoke out, part of me thought people would laugh at me and say I’ve been asking for it and stop begging for attention. But I’ve had so many girls come forward and get in touch to tell me thank you for speaking out. It’s a massive blind spot which is completely going under the radar and it’s happening to thousands and thousands of other women and shockingly, very young girls too.

    It’s important we open up about this sort of thing, because if it was happening in the middle of the street or on a night out, we would do something about it, so why is social media any different? It’s calling out one of the many dark sides of social media and it has to stop. The mental impact it can have can be extremely damaging, and it’s something I want social media companies to get on top of, and fast.

    What is your hope for women in TV?

    I mean there are so many insanely talented women dominating TV at the moment. I’m a huge fan of Michaela Coel, Jodie Comer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sara Pascoe who are all just absolutely incredible and are setting the benchmark. I hope to see women being offered the same professional and financial opportunities as men. Whether it’s in acting, writing, comedy, directing or producing – we are proving that we are more than capable and can do the same job just as well as anyone else.

    What’s your advice for women in TV?

    For me personally, it’s important to say that you don’t have to look a certain way or talk about certain things to work in comedy. You don’t have to be a bookish Cambridge graduate and talk about politics to do stand-up and be funny. You can be a Love Island fan, wear false eyelashes and fake tan and have blonde hair extensions too!

    Credit: Monkey/ITV2

    How does it feel to know that your show will bring people joy at such a difficult time?

    I definitely want people to watch the show as a form of escapism. I consciously made a choice to not include any reference to or mention of coronavirus. We’ve seen and heard enough of it. The show is a place where we can all feel relatable, to just laugh at ourselves (and at me) and just let go. 2020 has been hard for us all, and I think mentally we all need a break from what seems to be a constant river of sad news. Everyone is feeling very scared and uncertain right now and we can get away from all that for 45 minutes at least.

    What do you hope people take away from The Emily Atack Show?

    To step away from all the doom and gloom of what is on the news grab a drink, and have a laugh with me. We all need some light in our lives and I think this show will bring that. It’s not to be taken seriously, because as we all know, life is too short.

    Watch The Emily Atack Show on Wednesday’s 10pm on ITV2 or on ITV Hub.

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