Hollyoaks stars Bobby Gordon and Andrea Ali, who play Toby and Celeste Faroe respectively, have opened up about the people who have most inspired them while speaking about Black History Month.
The pair appeared on the latest Don't Filter Feelings podcast, a series which has seen Hollyoaks cast members and guests discussing racism and their personal experiences.
Speaking to host Yinka Bokinni on the episode 'Black History Month', the pair spoke about their acting inspirations growing up, with Bobby revealing that he's actually now working with one of his icons.
"I've always wanted to be the English Will Smith, that was me in a nutshell," he said. "I really had two icons and it's crazy that I'm even saying this because it's Will Smith and Richard Blackwood."
Richard Blackwood actually stars in Hollyoaks as Toby and Celeste's dad Felix Westwood, so although Felix might not have the best relationship with his children, it sounds like it's a very different story off-screen.
Andrea added that she "couldn't believe it" when she heard the news about Richard's casting, saying: "This is someone that we grew up watching on TV and listening to his music, then fast forward and he's now a part of our family.
"He's just such an amazing, wonderful human being and just listening to him even talk about the things that he went through in the industry when he was coming up ... all of these things just inspire me to keep going."
Adding that she was also inspired to get into acting by fellow soap actresses Tiana Benjamin, who played EastEnders' Chelsea Fox, and Zaraah Abrahams, who starred as Michaela White in Waterloo Road and Joanne Jackson in Coronation Street, Andrea spoke about the difficulties that face Black actors.
"We didn't have that many Black female actresses on TV in the UK that we could look up to or aspire to be like because we tended to look over to the US," she said. "Now as an adult and being in this industry, a lot of the Black people that inspire me are my friends and are my peers.
"It blows my mind every day that I wake up feeling like I now know the people that inspire me and that keep me going. And that (they) are doing amazing things every single day, despite being told no or despite being told that we have a glass ceiling.
"And then you have a double glass ceiling if you're Black and you're a woman and then you have three glass ceilings if you are Black, you're a woman and you identify as LGBTQ+. We are constantly being told that it's hard for us to break these barriers but yet every single day our peers are doing it."
Host Yinka also spoke about the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that she feels it is "about being human".
"I think humanising the Black experience, it's not just about being the best at sport, the best on camera, the best singer... it's about being a human being and living that I think is super important ... I think that is more visible in 2020 than before," she said.
You can listen to the Don't Filter Feelings podcast on all well-known podcast platforms, including Spotify, Podfollow, Apple Podcasts, and Acast.
Hollyoaks currently airs new episodes from Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4. Classic episodes, titled Hollyoaks Favourites, air on Fridays at 7pm on E4.
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