Brooke Vincent and Sacha Parkinson have been friends since they
went to drama school together aged six. "We used to cuddle up in
the car," recalls Sacha. "We'd pull up and get dropped off by my
mum and I'd go upstairs and Brooke'd be downstairs sat in my mum's
car being sarky like a 30-year-old woman."
"We're like sisters," adds Brooke, who has been on the show since
2004. "It's mad because when Sacha came onto Corrie [in 2008] we
kind of realized why we'd been friends all them years ago. Because
we didn't see each other for a bit, did we? We were on our way to
KFC at dinner, before, and Sacha said, 'Will we still know each
other when we're 30?' and I was like, 'It's mad, I hope so'."
Suffice to say, they're pretty close. As we chat, Sacha in the
make-up chair, Brooke stretched out on the bed fiddling with her
phone, they pick up and finish one another's sentences, laughing
and talking over each other. They're a lot of fun to be around,
chatting away animatedly about opinionated cab drivers and magnetic
bogeys before remembering that the tape recorder's running. "What
was the question again?" Sacha asks, laughing, after one such
DIVA: So the two of you are best friends in real
life? What kinds of things do you do together in your time
Brooke: We always say we'll go to the gym but we
never do that. We go shopping, don't we? We mainly eat, to be
honest. We eat quite a lot. Our mums get on as well so we do a lot
with our mums. They have a laugh with each other so it makes
everything quite easy.
Sacha: When we go to awards and stuff we take our
mums. They get dead shirty with us if we ever… well, we never say
we're going to take someone else.
Brooke: They just assume…
Sacha: They've got their outfits before we
Brooke: When we went to the NTA's I was like, "We
can't take a guest," and my mum was like, "What do you mean, you
can't take a guest?!" [They laugh.] They love it, don't they, our
Sacha and Brooke do have their serious sides, however, most
evident when we discuss the impact of their shared lesbian
storyline, a first for Corrie, the UK's longest-running soap, which
has just celebrated its 50th year on television. Sian and Sophie's
relationship began as a friendship, but blossomed into romance with
the pair sharing their first on-screen kiss last April. Since then
they have experienced their fair share of soap drama, coming out to
their respective parents, running away together and, memorably,
being caught in bed by Sophie's mother during the New Year's Day
episode earlier this year. There's evidently much more drama to
come, too, with Sophie due to take a serious fall from the church
roof in a storyline scheduled to air this spring. Will Sophie
survive this latest challenge? "I can't tell you that she's not
going to die," Brooke says, "but I can tell you it's been eventful
LESBIAN ROLE MODELS
It's a curious, if not particularly unusual, situation: a pair of
straight teenage actresses who play gay have become two of the
country's most visible lesbian role models. Brooke and Sacha seem
up to the challenge, however, explaining that they have felt
"privileged" to have been trusted with such a major storyline, and
speaking of the "amazing support" they've had from the general
public and the debt they owe the show's writers. It's clear that
they, and those who work behind the scenes on the show, take
seriously the responsibility attached to what in some quarters is
still deemed "controversial" same-sex content.
DIVA: Do you think the show is doing a good job
of representing the issues that lesbian teenagers face?
Brooke: Definitely. There have been so many
people that have twittered, emailed or Facebooked us to say,
"You've helped me come out to me mum and dad", and "I'm so glad
youse are not stereotypical lesbians, I'm glad you're both pretty
and normal". It's mad how much you get into [the habit] of sticking
up for the gay community. But to us and to most people, it doesn't
matter who you fancy, where you live, it's the person that matters.
It's just the same as being straight. The only difference is that
you fancy a girl instead of a lad.
DIVA: When you first found out about the lesbian
storyline, did you realize how much of a focus it would become for
Brooke: Not at first, no. I got told when I was
16 and the first thing I thought at 16 was, "What are people at
college going to say?" I was so scared, and then you kind of get
over that and you think, you know, this could be really, really
good for me and for my character. And it is, and we never ever
thought we would get this much attention and this much support off
people, like the general public. It's amazing.
Sacha: When you're acting, it's just your job,
it's your script and you think, "Ah, it's good for me", but you
forget actually how good it is for other people.
DIVA: Are you happy with the way the storyline's
gone so far?
Brooke: I am. I think they could have been a bit
more with just us…
Sacha: Rather than arguing all the time…
Brooke: But I'm glad they've not made us split up
Sacha: Or for it to be a phase….
Brooke: Because that's not what it is to most
people. So I'm so proud that they've actually trusted us with such
a big storyline, especially in the 50th year.
Sacha: And also, most of the soaps that have
explored being gay, or being lesbian it's generally been just like
Brooke: Yeah, they've just kind of touched on it.
And I think that's what most people have actually said. They're
thankful that we've not just run the story down, you know, and it's
carried on going. We're really privileged and as well as anything
we owe our thanks to the writers that have found different things
to explore in our relationship. We really enjoy playing lesbians.
Not that I didn't enjoy playing Sophie before she was a lesbian,
but it just gives it a bit of a twist and a bit of an edge.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback from the LGBT community to the pair's
representation of lesbians has been positive. "U girls are amazing!
Make me proud to be a lesbian" one fan tweeted recently. Another
told @DIVAmagazine: "gotta love Sacha & Brooke modern role
models for all the girls out there :)" During our conversation,
Brooke mentions a woman who pulled up next to her at traffic
lights, identified herself as gay and congratulated her on her
portrayal of a lesbian character. Other Coronation Street cast and
crew, some of whom are gay, have also "said we're doing well", she
Read the rest of the interview, including Reader Questions
and amazing photo shoot, by purchasing a copy of DIVA's April 2011
DIVAdirect.com while stocks last!