Darci Shaw talks debuts in the industry and her never-give-up mentality

PHOTOS: mollie rose
WORDS: Jasmine Perrier

This feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.17, available soon in digital and print worldwide
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Darci Shaw landed her first credited role at the age of 15 in Rupert Goold’s Judy. Flash forward two years after her big screen debut, she is one of the leads in the Netflix adaptation of The Irregulars. We first met up with Darci at the Kimpton Fitzroy London on March 26th, the day of the series premiere. There was no place like the enchanting ballroom where the young actress was full of life and playfulness for our photoshoot. Two weeks later, she connected with us from her home in Liverpool to share her experience in the short time since entering the industry and how she has built a resilient mindset until now to keep going. 

Following The Irregulars’ release, Darci appears smiling and happy. “It’s a bit weird releasing something in this climate where everything is online and we don’t really get to see people in person anymore. [But] from what I’ve heard, [the feedback] has been really nice and positive.” As far back as Darci can remember, she was into the creative field. “I started off in musical theater, and as a child I was in a stage school in Liverpool called LIPA,” she says. “I used to force my little sister to do performances for my parents with me. And I was quite forceful [laughs]. So I think me wanting to pursue it as a career was a natural thing.”

Darci adds, “I did a stage production of Fiddler on the Roof, and there were professional actors when I was doing that. They were so brilliant and watching them, I was like, ‘I want to do that for a living.’ I knew it was difficult, but I was going to try and see what happens.” On navigating the film industry at such a young age, she realizes, “I think a lot of this industry is [about] looking, being honest, and being in the right place at the right time. I’ve been fortunate that it’s worked out so far.” For her feature film debut, she played the young Judy Garland in the critically-acclaimed biographical musical-drama Judy. “Rupert Goold called me in, and I got to audition for him. I thought I’d blown it because I was 15 and so nervous. I’m still really grateful for him giving me that chance because I don’t know whether I’d be here if I hadn’t done it.”

“When I stepped onto my first film set, it was Judy, and I was very scared and overwhelmed. But I think your best work happens [when] you feel more relaxed and confident.” From her different on-set experiences so far, the actress admits she has discovered something surprising about herself. “I don’t like being cold, that’s probably the biggest things I’ve learned,” she says, before adding with a laugh, “I always have a hot water bottle on me, heat packs, and hot drinks because I think when you sit still for too long and you get really cold, then you start to get grouchy and that’s not good for anyone.” On an unexpected note, the native of Liverpool reveals they had a snow blizzard the day before, which gives us an idea of what filming The Irregulars in her hometown was like. “It felt like a bit too good to be true, but it was really fun. I showed them around, we went to nice restaurants, and we did escape rooms.”

Netflix’s The Irregulars offers a modern twist on the classic tale of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, with some supernatural elements thrown in, and dives into the Baker Street Irregulars’ relationship with the famous detective. “It was a very exciting script, because it was so wild and crazy. Every second, there is a new character, or a new scenario. Every day, when I walked onto set, I was so pleasantly surprised at how brilliant everything was and how great it looked.” On the show, Darci acknowledges she was surrounded by a committed group of people who had the same drive and determination, which made it easier for her to approach this job. “It does push you to be the best you can be,” she states, before explaining how she dealt with the shooting of scenes using CGI. “When we had all these scenes [with] birds chasing us, there was nothing there. It was just a man on a crane with a camera, and we had to run for our lives [laughs]. I think having other people there really helped.”


Playing Jessie, the only member of the Irregulars who has psychic powers and is the younger sister of the crew leader Bea [Thaddea Graham], who she shares a strong bond with, Darci enjoyed that her character was able to find her own strength throughout the 8-episode series. “I think when we leave Jessie, she does have a lot more self-belief. Having a really strong female character was always one I wanted to play anyway.” Whereas the group worries about Jessie’s mental health when she starts experiencing nightmares, she learns to accept her differences and to embrace them to help solve the paranormal mystery in Victorian London. “You can use [the things that make you different and special] to set you apart from everyone else in a good way. That’s probably the biggest takeaway that I would say for her character.”

While Darci may just be at the beginning of her career, she takes a second to reflect on the reality of working in the industry. “There’s certainly times where you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions because you go for 80 auditions and you’ll only hear back from five percent of them, but you’ve got to keep pushing forward. I think I’m now [getting] used to [that savage industry that we work in].” For now, Darci is already filming another project called The Colour Room. Starring opposite Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor in the lead role, among others, the film is about ceramicist Clarice Cliff who changed the face of pottery in the 1920s. “I’m playing Dot, Clarice’s sister. I’m really excited to work on that at the moment.” As the budding actress just turned 19, she concludes our chat with her birthday wish. “I hope that life starts to slowly return to normal and we can go to the cinema again because I miss [that] a lot, seeing friends, and giving people hugs.”


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