Former Dream Team and Footballers' Wives star Chucky Venn, is somewhat of an all-rounder. Having starred in TV, film and now theatre, he reveals his secrets for staying on top.
How did you get involved with The Brothers?
Two weeks after the last 2005 show Nolan Weekes, who I happened to be friends with, called me and said Angie is looking for a new actor to take on the role of Richard and would I be interested in going for an audition. This was after Footballers' Wives so I jumped at the opportunity; I went for the audition at Hackney Empire and I'd like to think I smashed it. Angie said she liked my look and loved my performance and offered me the role. It had such a meant to be feeling about it.
What was opening night like?
I've done theatre before, but have acquired most of my success through TV and film and I'll never forget the first night I performed. It was the closest I'd ever experienced to feeling like a rock star; when we came on the reception was so warm and powerful. That gave me the energy and the inspiration to see this through and give the best I could. I've been involved with this for three years now and every time I do it I find a different emotional connection with Michelle Gayle [who plays Brenda the mother of Richard's children].
What are the 3 main reasons The Brothers appealed to you?
I could relate to what was going on. The whole story of Richard was of major interest to me, because I'm going through a similar process myself. When I saw the poster of The Brothers it didn't look like a street thing, it just looked like a general drama. The cast, Richard Blackwood who I admired when I was younger; Nolan Weekes who I'd worked with a couple of years ago and Angie Le Mar who is phenomenal. Whenever you speak to her or have an acting session with her, you feel inspired and you believe you can.
What was life like for you growing up? Did you always want to be an actor?
I grew up on Mozart Estate; it was a tough area at that particular time. I was just a regular kid growing up, of Nigerian origin, and I was always a bit of a live one at school. I always remember saying I wanted to be a stunt man, I never harboured ambitions to be an actor. Back then I was more about athletics acting didn't dawn on me until I was about eighteen; I was at Queen's Park with a friend, we concocted a scene and I guess I just lived in the moment. I was in a weird place at that time and I didn't quite know what I wanted to pursue; personal training or go into the sports industry. I thought about it but there was something missing; like there was something else I could do to maximise my full potential. My first acting break was in Dream Team, I played a character called Curtis Alexander.
Was Curtis completely different from any characters you had played in the past?
Yes he was. This character was originally smooth, confident, braggadocio - I can play that [laughs]. As time progressed he started to go through changes, he wasn't scoring as much and started to lose faith in his ability. He became violent and angry about the way his career was switching, he beats up one of his team mates and then decides to look towards God and becomes a born-again Christian.
How did living the life of a character that goes through so many different changes affect you in your real life?
I'm a passionate guy, but playing roles like that has made me tap into areas I wasn't comfortable tapping into before. Generally in life I became more expressive, even when it came to writing; it was just flowing a lot easier. As actors we have to keep an open mind and be in touch with our emotions, so we are able to give ourselves up completely to the role.
What has been a highlight in your career?
The Brothers definitely, as it's the biggest thing I've done theatre-wise and working with Joan Collins on Dream Team was like wow. Working with Matt Damon because he was such a grounded guy and so appreciative of his position; as was Heath Ledger, he was quiet but you definitely felt an air of potential greatness. Also working with Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas and director Chris Nolan.
Who inspires you and why?
Muhammad Ali, he was one of the originals; he had his own vision and done things his own way. Bruce Lee for his training and work ethic and Angela Bassett, she is a great actress. Sydney Poitier and Denzel Washington; they've been out there from day one and Denzel is still doing it. Daniel Craig as well, because I love his style of acting, he has a very unconventional look and people didn't expect him to be successful. Daniel came out with one of the best Bonds ever and I have every intention of being the first black Bond.
Why should people tune in to The Brothers when it hits MTV Base next month?
There's nothing like this on TV at this particular point. The subject matters in the story are ones we can all relate to, though it is coming from a black perspective. You've got the aesthetic element with the combination of smooth, handsome and articulate brothers and beautiful women. Then you have depth, comedy and drama.
What are your career plans after the Brothers?
I'm directing a play called Crossroads, it's primarily a teenage cast. We are in production at the moment and the play will be coming out in mid-April. It's my first play, so it's a labour of love in many ways and I think it's going to be a beautiful thing once it's completed.
What advice do you have for our readers?
Know where you are going, if you're not sure there are people you can speak to and get advice from. Just because someone knocks you down doesn't necessarily mean they are right. If you stick to your plan, have faith in yourself and put in the hard work that is required anything is achievable.
What is your motto for success?
Hard work, faith and dedication. Focus and harness those three qualities.
Words by Rachelle Hull
Photography by TLS Photography