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Profiles in Pink: Blake Harrison

The London- born actor takes to the streets of Soho wearing our classic shirts and talks style, stage fright and Speedos.

When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?

I’ve never known wanting to be anything else. My nan would say she asked me at three years old what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said actor. It’s been my dream my whole life and I’m incredibly fortunate that it worked out because I had no plan B. As an older man now, I see how risky that was but maybe if I’d divided my time and passion to mitigate that risk it may never have happened for me.

Professionally speaking, what’s been your proudest moment to date?

Probably being brave enough to say no to things. It would have been very easy for me to keep repeating what I did in The Inbetweeners, but I wanted to do other things and challenge myself. If you come from a working-class background, it can be tougher to turn jobs down. You have people around you saying, ‘take the money’ or ‘a job’s a job’. They don’t always understand that you’re trying to achieve something more than just making money. You also have a voice in your head telling you that you probably won’t get another job. It takes strength to hear that and still say ‘no’.

Do you have a dream role?

No dream roles but I certainly have a bucket list of genres or types of shows I want to be a part of. I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy geek so being a part of one of those worlds would really excite me. I haven’t done any Shakespeare since drama school and I miss that very much. More importantly, I want to keep doing an eclectic array of work. If I can do a farce on stage then a gritty Indie film and a high-budget fantasy TV show all in the same year, that would be the dream for me.

As well as film and TV, you’ve also starred in plays. Do you ever get stage fright?

I definitely get nervous. Particularly early in the run but once the first line or two is done those nerves settle and you just give yourself over to the show. There’s nothing quite like being on stage, especially when something goes wrong early in the run – you get a shot of adrenaline, and you have to be on your toes and improvise to cover it up. It’s terrifying but exhilarating. Towards the end of the run, it’s just funny and all your energy goes into not breaking character and p*ssing yourself laughing in front of hundreds of people.

Who are your style icons?

I can’t say I have a specific style icon. I have a lot of respect for people that are doing things differently and turning fashion into art. Harry Styles is an obvious example of that and, in a more relatable way, my mate [the actor] Jonah Hauer-King is someone that has a good eye for what works for him day-to-day but is also brave and makes bold choices in photoshoots. He’s not my icon though, I reserve the right to take the p*ss out of him if he wears something I think is ridiculous!

What’s your go-to everyday look?

My everyday look when I’m not really trying is probably just jeans and a jumper or T-shirt that has a print on it. Something that I feel someone will look at and enjoy, something artistic or funny. I like the idea that my clothes can sometimes put someone else in a better mood.

What’s the worst outfit you’ve been made to wear for a role?

Easily what I wore in the Thorpe Park episode of The Inbetweeners. It was Speedos and a vest. We were an unknown show at that point and the park was open to the public, so people kept commenting and saying things like: ‘ewww’, and ‘what is that?!’ Not ‘who is that’, but ‘what is that?!’ Like I was some grotesque Narnian creature.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I adore the words by Mary Schmich used in Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) song. Particularly the line: “don’t waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself.” This is brilliant advice, especially for actors during a time when social media is so prevalent. Auditioning is tough and exposing. Not only do you put yourself out there, but you may not hear back until a month later when someone announces they got the role on Instagram. Comparing yourself to others is natural but can ultimately be depressing. It’s best to try and focus on your own journey and be happy for others doing well – unless you know they’re a d*ckhead! Another quote from Schmich’s essay is “don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”

What are your ambitions for the future?

I suppose it’s to just keep improving everywhere I can. I love my job and I want to keep working on different types of projects. I’m a very proud dad and I want to make sure I grow and evolve with their needs [my kids] and be a source of comfort and inspiration for them. I’ve also started a sort of side career following my passion for the sport of MMA and I want to improve as an interviewer and podcaster for The MMA Fan Podcast. There’s no shortage of interesting challenges.