Andrea Valls is probably best known by kids and parents alike as Jess from the CBeebies hit show Waffle The Wonder Dog, however Andrea has been taking the online comedy world by storm creating content for Comedy Centrals 'Comedians In Quarantine' series and through her YouTube channel amassing tens of thousands of views.
We caught up with Andrea to talk about the entertainment industry, how it will bounce back post lock down and of course all things Waffle.
Having spent a lot of time in Devon visiting friends living in Barnstaple, Essex based Andrea stated "it's gorgeous [in Devon] if I could be there right now I would be, by the sea, why wouldn't you want to be there? I love it".
We asked Andrea how she's been dealing with lock down and what’s been keeping her sane to which we received a refreshingly positive reply, "I feel like the whole thing about everyone feeling like they need to be really creative is great but there’s no pressure and also I feel like it’s such a time for creators, it’s a really really cool time for people that can write their own material, film their own material, and edit it. I'm no technical wizard at all, it’s a really really cool time to be able to make your own stuff and then see what can happen with it, because no-one is expecting you to go out and get a job or go to loads of auditions because there aren’t any, so if you can make your own work in this time or at least keep yourself busy it’s a really nice exercise in productivity and also just self-motivation, which is so important".
Speaking of Waffle The Wonder Dog Andrea says she still finds it surprising when people recognise her from Waffle, a combination of not having children herself yet but understanding how children can become obsessed "you know when kids are obsessed it's like that’s all they watch all the damn day, whether its Andy's Dinosaur Adventures, Bing, whatever, like they are celebrities in your household". She told us from the very start they knew they were making a hit show "I think we knew we had all the elements to make it wonderful to watch, a really nice script, it was funny, it was fun, it had a bit of heart and it had a bit of seriousness in it with the serious themes we touch on and it’s got a talking dog! I love it!".
Having supportive parents that work within the arts industry, her dad being an artist and teacher, and her mum always had an affection for theatre and acted prior to meeting Andrea's father, she had known she wanted to be an actor from an incredibly young age. Despite initially intending to play serious romantic lead roles it wasn't until leaving drama school some 6 years ago that Andrea decided to explore comedy professionally, "as soon as I left drama school I did a couple of short films for my friends and that was all comedy and suddenly I just went into comedy from coming out of drama school. So, I never really considered it but that is just what naturally happened, I think that is the best way to go about it, I was not trying to force a round peg into a square hole.
It was coming really easily, it felt so comfortable, I would say Jess in Waffle isn't the funniest character but I remember when I went to the audition, I just made a weird face and made her have a bit of my sense of humour and a bit of comedy I injected and it’s what got me the role".
With her favourite comedians being that of Nish Kumar, Steph Todd and Mo the Comedian, Andrea admits the idea of performing stand-up comedy makes her want to "curl up in a ball and die" she did however add that she's keen to try her hand at improvised comedy when lock down ends having recently been binge watching new Netflix series 'Middleditch & Schwartz' which consists of three completely improvised comedy specials ... what could go wrong?
We wanted to know Andrea's opinions on how she feels the entertainment industry and the arts will bounce back following the ongoing Covid-19 issues, "I feel like the arts always suffers the most in a recession. There were so many great shows, great comedy and obviously people are like “I want my money back for that show that I’ve not seen” and it’s so hard to ask people for their cold hard cash if they’re not going to the theatre but at the same time these theatres are asking "please can you not ask for a refund and just wait until we can put it back on again" because otherwise its genuinely going to be quite devastating. I really feel that theatres, bars, cinemas will be the last things to come back, restaurants might come back sooner socially distanced. I feel like the arts will suffer, the only thing that’s done really well from all of this is television and online content, honestly I think the quality of television that’s going out at the moment is incredible but I feel like we’ve got to hurry up and be able to film some more because otherwise we’re going to run out of stuff before too long!
Live entertainment will suffer and it's just tragic, it's expensive enough as it is now [to visit the theatre] let alone when we have to start increasing ticket prices because we're only able to fill them to half capacity, who’s going to be able to pay for that ticket? You’re isolating a really big group of people who would benefit so much from having access to the theatre and it is sad because I thought we were making really great progress in terms of making the theatre a really diverse place to be, we were watching some incredible actors from all walks of life and the theatre was really paving the way in the UK for being really diverse, I feel like television has got a long way to go.
A whole group of children is going to miss out on seeing themselves reflected on the stage, but it just means we’ve all got to find a way to making it work and adapting".
Asking Andrea about what she would like the public to know about how they can help the entertainment industry bounce back she had this great advice " I think it would just be pay for stuff, people will perform no matter what and artists will always be underpaid because there is always someone who will do it cheaper or do it for free, but I do feel like people should value themselves but also that we should value them and we should value the content.
Go down and see a local show as soon as we are back.
I think we’re all going to want to be extremely social and we’re all going to want to experience things and I feel like we can have going to the theatre or a comedy show or a cinema as something we start doing a bit more often because we’ve missed it.
And make it a part of your social calendar instead of just going out for a drink go out for a drink and some comedy, some stand up it will enrich your life".
As a final send-off Andrea asked if the Torquay Comedy Club would have her when she decides to pursue stand-up comedy? Of course, we would love to.
Perhaps we should host an improv night in the future?
What do you think?
Let us know in the comments below.