Actor Jemal Felix has starred in a number of productions including Whistle Down The Wind, Hairspray, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Kinky Boots. I was fortunate enough to talk to Jemal all about how he has been keeping himself occupied during the lockdown and his hopes for the future when the theatres are finally allowed to reopen
First of all, how are you feeling about the whole virus and lockdown situation?
I’m trying to enjoy it. I think in this industry nothing ever stops, there’s always something going on. So for everyone to have to stop and have a chance to recuperate without feeling like they’re missing out is quite nice.
Obviously I’m excited for everything to start getting back to how it was but it’s been a welcome break.
How have you been keeping yourself occupied during the lockdown?
Lots and lots of colouring. Haha, I’ve become addicted. It’s such a good way to pass the time.
What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown is over?
Meeting up with my friends! Before this I’d been on tour for a nearly a year so I feel like I’ve been out of the loop. Trying to cram in seeing friends is hard when you get a week off here and there. So i cannot wait to get a group of friends together in Hyde park and have a laugh.
Is there anything we, as theatre fans, can do to help the arts industry in these trying times?
Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s been amazing to see fans really open to helping the arts. From donating the money from tickets to shows they can no longer see to taking part in zoom workshops. It all helps.
What is your favourite thing about the theatre industry as a whole?
That’s a hard one. I think it’s as cheesy as saying a good audience reaction at the end of a show. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe.
With the theatres closed and so much being moved online, do you think that we are seeing a big change in how the industry works?
I do. I think people have been really inventive with ways of making money during all of this. Especially with zoom workshops and online concerts. But, it also relies heavily on having a social media presence and being in (or playing a part in) a show with a large fan base. A lot of people who were out of work at the time, or are not big on social media have found it a bit harder to adapt to the ‘online’ thing.
How have you been managing day to day life in quarantine? Do you have a routine, or do you just go with the flow?
For the first month, I’d just come back off of tour so I literally hardly did anything but then I realised I need to start getting into a routine again. So now I try and get up, do a 10k walk and then see where the rest of the day takes me. To be honest it’s been nice just being able to be at my flat for more than one night. So I’ve been working through a list of small things that I need to sort out. Still haven’t managed to finish the spare bedroom yet though. I’ve got a while.
Do you have any advice for people who are perhaps finding lockdown and the gradual easing of lockdown hard to manage?
Walk, walk and then walk some more. I think it’s really important to get outside and get some fresh air everyday. Write lists, try and find a routine and listen to music.
Also there are a lot of us in the same position, so try and remember that you’re not alone.
Do you think that it is important to talk about mental health in these challenging times?
I think open conversations about mental health are always important. Being aware of how your mind works and what your coping mechanisms are can be really helpful. I know throughout this pandemic a lot of people have been very up and down and that’s normal. That is okay.
I would like to thank Jemal for his time and his answers to this interview, as well as wish him the very best for the future. Stay safe x