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Soaps Interview

'EastEnders' star Tameka Empson talks awards, Kim and Ray - interview

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Tameka Empson

© PA Images / Ian West/PA Wire

EastEnders star Tameka Empson could add another Inside Soap Award to her mantelpiece next month after receiving a nomination for 'Funniest Female' ahead of the upcoming ceremony.

The actress, who plays Kim Fox, received the comedy gong at the 2011 event and will be hoping for more success when this year's winner is announced in September.

Digital Spy recently chatted to Tameka about her nomination and Kim's current storylines.

Congratulations on being nominated for 'Funniest Female' at the Inside Soap Awards. How does it feel to be up for the prize?
"It feels great! As it's the second year running, it hopefully shows that I'm still doing something right, which is good. I don't know whether I'll win or not, but it's always good to be nominated."

As you won the comedy prize last year, is there any pressure to be equally successful this time around?
"I try not to think about it too much! I think if you keep it real, don't get big-headed and keep doing what you do, hopefully you're in with a good chance. It's good that I've got it once before - nobody can take that award out of my living room! But it would be nice to have a twin for it!"

Your EastEnders colleague Ann Mitchell, who plays Cora, is among your competitors for the award…
"I know - and I think she's hilarious! I think it's a tough call between us, because sometimes when I watch Cora, I laugh out loud. It's her one-liners, how she delivers them, and her body language. I think she's brilliant."

Tameka Empson as Kim Fox in EastEnders

© BBC

Tameka Empson as Kim Fox

Inside Soap Awards 2012 Logo

© Inside Soap Magazine



Kim is always entertaining to watch on screen. How similar are you to her in real life?
"Well, people tend to think that I am Kim, or that I'm playing myself. But I think she's more fit than me, because I couldn't get away with the clothes that she wears - they're a bit tight and a bit short! She actually keeps me going to the gym and using my abs!

"I'd say we both like to have a good time and be the life of a party. I don't like to go out and just sit around - if a good tune comes on, I've got to get up and dance. So I think that's what we have in common. I also like a tipple or two, but in moderation! I don't think waking up in a skip like Kim is a good look - I can't say I've done it, and I can't say I want to do it!"

Do you feel that comedy comes quite naturally to you?
"Yes, previous roles that I've played have tended to have a bit of comedy coming through, too. I think I get it from my mother, who is very funny without trying and often gets things wrong! For example, at school I had a friend called Tracy, who always used to come round to do her homework and have dinner. But my mum would forever call her 'Sharon'!

"That's how the whole thing came about where Kim always says 'Janice' instead of Janine, as I told that story in work. I think the drama can be there with Kim, but I find that people do tend to like the comedy."

Is there an element of improvisation to your performances, or do you always stick to the script?
"It's a bit of both, really. The writers here are very good, but if I feel like I can add a bit of sparkle to a scene, I will. The directors here are very good when it comes to that, because we all want the show to be the best it possibly can be."

When it comes to the Inside Soap Awards, your on-screen partner Chucky Venn (Ray) is also up for a couple of prizes. Do you think he's in with a chance of the 'Sexiest Male' and 'Best Newcomer' titles?
"I do think so! He's got nice shoulders and nice arms, and he's a great addition to the cast. If he won both prizes, it would be such a great night for him."

Ray is furious that Kim lied about Sasha's work experience placement.

© BBC

Kim becomes suspicious of Ray and his dishonest behaviour.

© BBC



How do you feel about Ray being ruled out of Kat's affair mystery?
"That's a bit of a relief! It's quite nice to know that he's out of the running, because it would have been handbags and heels at dawn with Kat and Kim otherwise. But I do think that Kat wouldn't have gone there with Ray, because Kim is her friend. As for who else it could be, I don't know. The saga continues!"

Even though Ray isn't having an affair with Kat, it sometimes still seems like he's hiding something. Do you agree?
"Yes! He does seem a bit secretive. There are times where I feel he sometimes holds back, but we don't know why - not yet anyway! That all adds to the drama, though, because the story continues and that's what keeps you tuning in."

Do you think Kim and Ray will have a long-term future?
"I think so, and it'd be nice to see how the relationship develops. It won't always be happy go lucky - there's always going to be testing times in the relationship, but it'll be interesting to see how they both deal with that.

"I'd like them to have a bit of longevity - will they break up, won't they break up? But it'd be nice to see them always come back to each other, like Tanya and Max. We'll have to see what happens!"

If things became more serious, what kind of a wedding would Kim want with Ray?
"Oh, it would have to be a blinged out wedding - definitely! It would be a lot of fun, as Kim would make it the wedding of the century. Kate Middleton, eat your heart out! It would have everything, from the chocolate fountain to the 16-tier cake."

Kim fills Sasha's head with gruesome tales of how Heather died.

© BBC

Sasha flees Heather's house and runs to find Ray.

© BBC



How would Kim cope with being a potential step mum to Sasha?
"I think Kim will probably start out by treating Sasha like a walking doll. She'd want to try and make her into a mini-Kim, because she had that sort of relationship with Chelsea in the past. I think Kim will be very focused on how Sasha looks, walks, talks and all the rest of it. She'd try to mould Sasha into herself, but I don't think Ray would like that - as it's too much, too soon!

"Kim does have the potential to be a good mother, though. When you push her buttons and her back is against the wall, that's when you see the power of Kim."

Would you like Sasha's mum to arrive in Walford and stir things up?
"It could be interesting, because we haven't met her yet. I think if she were to come to the Square, there could be fireworks - although it would depend on whether she was trying to win Ray back. Kim is quite settled with Ray and she doesn't want to lose him. Let's see what happens!"

EastEnders fans seem to be buzzing about Letitia Dean's return. Have you filmed any scenes with her yet?
"Yes, there's been a few - which has been quite nice because I've always been a fan of the show, so to meet Letitia now and to work with her is amazing. She giggles all the time and we have a great laugh on set."

Last year, you had a more serious storyline with Kim's HIV scare. Do you enjoy the opportunities where you can show another side to your character?
"Yeah, I do! I think Kim does have different sides to her, and nobody's ever happy all the time. It's good for me to challenge myself as an actress. I find doing comedy quite easy, but it's nice to try something different. It's great if you can have a rounded character, so I really enjoyed that and it'd be nice to have a few more of those serious scenes in the future."

> Read more 'EastEnders' spoilers and news
> Read more of our Inside Soap Awards 2012 coverage

The 2012 Inside Soap Awards - sponsored by online fashion retailer boohoo.com - take place in September. Voting is open via the Inside Soap website.

EastEnders airs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on BBC One. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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