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Leigh-Anne Pinnock says she channelled Julia Roberts in film acting debut

The Little Mix star is one of the leads in Aml Ameen's festive romcom Boxing Day.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock Boxing Day
Published: Friday, 3rd December 2021 at 10:43 am

The path from popstar to film star is a road well-travelled – and one of the latest to make the journey is Little Mix member Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

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Pinnock stars as one of the leads in Aml Ameen's festive romcom Boxing Day, and speaking to RadioTimes.com to mark the release she revealed she had looked to one of the legends of the genre for inspiration.

"[Ameen] said [he was] looking basically for his Julia Roberts, like that sort of vibe – so I literally went away and watched every Julia Roberts film," she revealed.

"That was the first time I'd watched Notting Hill and My Best Friend's Wedding – I'd never seen those two films. And there's something about her and I think it's that sort of, I don't know, it's the fact that she's super relatable. And like she would be that character slightly off-screen as well."

Pinnock shares the screen with some far more experienced actors in the film – including Marianne Jean-Baptiste – and she said the prospect of starring in her first movie was one she initially found very "daunting".

"Petrifying," she said. "I was so scared – these actors have been doing it for years as professionals and are just incredible with their work. So yeah, I was very scared.

"But at the same time, it was like stepping into a family, a second family. And everyone just held me and helped me and gave me some amazing advice that I'm going to take on to whatever I do next."

Given her musical roots, it's perhaps no surprise that Pinnock gets the chance to show off her singing voice in the film – her character is a popstar, and as well as featuring two new original songs, the movie also includes a showcase performance of classic hit I Say a Little Prayer, made famous by Aretha Franklin.

Ameen said he chose this particular song for two reasons – it's one of his mother's favourites and it works as a nice reference to the aforementioned My Best Friend's Wedding, in which it also appears – and Pinnock was grateful to have the chance to sing it on camera.

"When he said that this is going to be the song, inside I was like, 'Oh, that is a big song.' Like, that's not a song that you just sing, you know, it's iconic," she explained.

"And I remember my mum actually saying as well, when I was speaking to her about it, she was like, 'Leanne, are you sure you want to do that?' And then obviously, she watched the scene back and she was just bawling. She just loved it.

"But yeah, I mean, that day of filming, I was super nervous. It was the first time I've ever sung on my own for 10 years on a stage – like, that's mad to me. But as much as I felt petrified, it was also slightly home to me, because I got to do what I love, and that is sing."

The chance to sing was just one of many reasons Pinnock was so excited to take part in the project – and another thing that attracted her to the role was the opportunity to be in "a beautiful Black British film".

"Whan Aml and Aja [Naomi King] come out of a beautiful fancy car and go and check into a beautiful hotel – that is a Black experience and that should be normalised," she said.

"Because actually, it is normal. And I think, why isn't that portrayed on TV? So thank goodness, we have this film to show that. But it's not just a film for our community and our culture, it's a film for everyone – it's just a great fun film that makes you feel happy. And everyone just needs to go and see it this year, because it's what we all need."

So now that she's had her first taste of acting, will Pinnock be back for more any time soon?

"I really hope that it opens up more doors," she said. "I loved the experience, and I definitely want to keep going and see where it takes me, and keep finessing my newfound talent and craft."

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Boxing Day is currently showing in UK cinemas. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our Film hub for all the latest news and features. 

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