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Ruby Barker burst onto our screens in 2020 as Marina Thompson in Netflix’s cool millennial drama, Bridgerton.
Since then, she has gone from strength to strength, starring in critically acclaimed projects from How to stop a recurring dream for Run with the Lionsand this year in collaboration with Mullerlight as the voice of their new campaign.
MC Feature Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Ruby to learn more about being a Müllerlight Ambassador and to talk about body confidence, Bridgerton and live in a real castle…
Congratulations on the position of ambassador. What attracted you to the collaboration?
I did voice work for Müller and had so much fun. I’ve eaten Müllers all my life and I’m not kidding but it’s a dream come true to say “Müller-licious”. My dad is so proud of me – he’s a huge Müller Rice fan. And my friends can’t believe it either – like, I have some serious Müller fan friends. They don’t care about Bridgerton at all but they are like “Müller? Where’s the yogurt? Give me the yogurt now”. I have a lot of people after Müller merch. I like the limited editions better and the flavors of the desserts are absolutely brilliant. The Müllerlight Tiramisu is a game changer for sure.
Did you like Müller’s positive body message?
Certainly, 100%. I was this girl growing up who looked in the mirror and compared me and compared me. Why am I like this? Why am I like this? Why don’t I look like him? And it’s not really my fault. I mean, look at the world we grew up in – and things are just starting to change. We’re starting to have a much healthier relationship with food and with size, and we’re finally moving in the right direction. It’s important because in the end, if I had a little girl and she looked in the mirror and felt what I felt, it would break my heart.
What message do you want to convey?
I just want people to feel good about themselves because you can’t do anything positive when you’re in a negative state of mind. That’s when it’s hard to get up and be healthy – hit the gym, see friends, go for a walk, whatever. I’ve been there – where you just want to hide from the world and cover up, and I just don’t want people to feel like that. If being honest and open about the issues I’ve faced, where I’m from, and my journey helps people – if it brings comfort to people and makes them feel less alone and I’m taking this journey with them, so be this. It’s the best I can do.
It must have been a surreal experience to become famous overnight and during lockdown…
Yeah it was, but to be honest, I’m kinda grateful I got locked up for it. What if the world was open and the show was coming out and we were all accosted in the street? If we were unable to walk down the street or do anything normal, I think it would have been pretty scary. But because of the lockdown, the nature of that fame and attention has changed. The interactions were mostly online and you can always turn off your phone – you are in control and I appreciate that.
I guess the lockdown kind of made you famous in some way…
Yes, and even more than that, I think we also need to think about the environmental benefits we have gained from this lockdown. Usually we go back and forth to London, we drive everywhere, we spend a lot of money to get into a room with people when in fact, why can’t we do more virtual meetings? You can’t film virtually, but there are castings you can do virtually, meetings you can do virtually, and even award shows you can do virtually.
You’ve already talked about your great support network – has it helped keep you grounded in your transition to stardom?
I have friends who keep me grounded and I keep myself grounded too. I have a very good support network around me. The friends I have, I have had them for a very long time. They’ve known me since I was 14 and they all think it’s really weird because they know me. They know how I am and they just say, “What? Ruby from drama class got all that attention? Really?”
Did you have any idea how tall Bridgerton was?
I certainly didn’t know how much Bridgerton would be, but I knew it was going to be popular because I had read the script. It was in front of me and I could see it was going to be a hit, but I didn’t necessarily know how popular it was. I had no idea people who had never seen period drama before were going to tune in. For many people, it was their first experience of a period drama because something about the more traditional way of doing it just wasn’t. t necessarily appeal to them.
How would you describe the shooting of Bridgerton?
Oh that was really fun and just crazy. You know, I would describe it as kind of a crazy family road trip of almost every stately home in the UK. It was like that. It was just guys on tour – let’s go.
And speaking of living your best life in Bridgerton, is it true that you live at the castle?
I do, yeah. It is a real 19th century castle – built in 1846 – and set in its own park. It’s not just me. The castle has been converted into apartments and many families live there. I live in one of the sheds, so that’s where the horses and carriages went. We all share the land – the lawn, the woods, the vegetable garden and we all have access to the roof. We call it the Happy Commune. And the kids are so cute. There are all these little children – they are literally real life princes and princesses and they run around the castle all day. It was really nice in Covid times as we all self-isolated together and no one even knows it’s there. Really – when I take a taxi home a lot of taxi drivers say to me, ‘I worked in Leeds for twenty years and never knew this was here’.
It sounds idyllic…
Oh yeah. We garden, we plant apple trees, we all play badminton together. And you’re just surrounded by really cool people. My Favorite Neighbor is like a walking BBC drama. She’s just a cool, really strong woman – she’s a lawyer and she’s a single mom and she’s just a badass.
You already talked about not going to acting school…
I didn’t go to drama school and you don’t have to go to drama school. I didn’t have the money to go and I was really inspired by actors who didn’t either. There are so many talented actors at the top of the game who never went to drama school – we’re talking about the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Cruise. There are lots of people who never went to drama school, especially in America, and I found that they did well. They never needed to go to a school to be broken down and then rebuilt in their idea of what you should be. They managed to enter this industry and perfect their craft and prosper. And I thought, if J-Law can do it, so can I. Why not ?
What advice would you give to someone new to the industry?
My advice would be that there is no formula for getting into this industry. If you don’t go to drama school, fine. Adapt and think about your feet. If you don’t enter the National Youth Theater, fine. Me niether. You have to adapt, you have to think, and you have to do your research. You should be prepared to write lots of emails and market yourself, but be professional. And just know your value and know your potential. Some of your friends are going to think you’ve really lost your mind – they’re going to think, “Billy has this pipe dream – it’s embarrassing”. Every actor or anyone else who said they were going to do something out of the norm has experienced that. You’re not alone. But please believe in yourself and do what you love – you only have one life. It’s that simple.
What can people expect from your amazing game, Running with Lions?
They can expect a hilarious and cathartic experience. It is really worth it. This game is what you need. It will feed your spirit and it will feed your soul. It’s the kind of stuff I live creatively for. It’s so funny, the acting is amazing and one thing I also want to point out is that this play is about mental health. Now, I don’t think anyone struggled with their sanity during this particular lockdown. Mental health is at the forefront of almost everyone’s consciousness right now. And I think this piece will be really educational, helpful, and ultimately supportive. We have the conversations we should have in this play.
The theater troupe is emblematic…
This theater company – Talawa – is the best black theater troupe to deliver black narratives in British theater history. They are number one. So if you want to support my community and what we do, please come see this show. It would mean the world to all of us and I truly believe it will bring you joy as well.
What themes does the play address?
It touches on mental health, grief, loss, love and ultimately hope. It explores mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, questioning their faith, mental health within the community and how it affects family dynamics. My character Imani wants to see the world – she lives with her grandparents because her mother Gloria is bipolar and has unfortunately been in and out of mental hospitals for most of Imani’s life. The play opens with Gloria returning home.
Is there a dream role in theater or on screen that you would like to play one day?
I would love to play Cleopatra – if they had me. And I would like to do a season with the RSC [Royal Shakespeare Company]. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I got into it. When I was in school, our drama teacher – we called him Ducky – took us to see Shakespeare plays. I once saw the best production of Twelfth Night at the Hull Truck Theater – it was crazy. Honestly, they brought people up on stage to drink tequila, they brought in pizza, and they gave us foam balls to throw at the actors. And instead of yellow stockings, Malvolio wore a shiny gold thong and ran around the auditorium like crazy. What I loved so much about this production was the chaos – the madness and the lack of rules and suffocation that you associate with theatre. And that’s what Shakespeare was.
Ruby Barker is the new ambassador for Müllerlight. Müllerlight Greek Lemon is fat-free, no added sugar and high in protein, which means you really can have it all.