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Everybody’s talking about Layton and his crew

As part of our Pride campaign and our collaboration with Ditch The Label, we got to know some special members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Layton, the West End star playing Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, joins us with his friends, professional dancer Poppy Radford, and award-winning actor and the first ever Jamie to grace the stage, John McCrea. After meeting at drama school, it wasn’t love at first sight! But once they got to know each other, they’ve been inseparable ever since. All extra in their own fabulous ways, this power group supports and lifts each other up every single day. Believing that friends are your chosen family, this trio have grown up together and will continue to smash life by each other’s side.

We spoke to the group about their chosen tribe, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and even got a little RI exclusive… 

Who is your Pride family, Layton?

Layton: My Pride family is John McCrae and Poppy Radford, my best friends.


How did you all meet?

Layton: So we all go back at least 10+ years, we met at high school. Me and John went to a high school, Sylvia Young's, and then I met Poppy a couple of years after that at a new one. I like to get around.


Poppy, what were your first impressions of Layton and John?

Poppy: Well I loved John when we first met, but I didn’t love Layton when we first met!

Layton: You were actually quite shady to me, weren’t you?

Poppy: Yeah, we didn’t get on at first.

Layton: At first!

Poppy: At first! Because I was really annoyed because I was the oldest in the class…

Layton: This is how young we were, because this is how childish things were!

Poppy: It was really cool to be the oldest in the class and I was and then Layton came along and he was older than me so I was really upset. But we got over it and then we were best friends so it's fine now!


How long did it take for you to become friends?

Layton: Pretty rapid. You were into me. I was the new boy in town, you know.

Poppy: Yeah, a couple of weeks. And then we clicked and we were together, forever.

Layton: Forever!

John, what was your first impression of Layton?

John: The same.

Layton: Oh my God, it was the same! You both hated me!

John: I didn't really love him at first. He's like a fine wine, it takes time to appreciate him. He struck up a really strong friendship with my best friend and I think I felt a bit threatened at first but then I soon got over it.

Layton: He actually chased me round the school on a bike and I remember being terrified thinking he is about to just end me! But, like I said, this is all behind us now hence why they're here. I didn't pay them, I promise!


Who’s who in the group?

Layton: I feel like we all bring different vibes to the group. I feel like I'm more…

John: Extra.

Layton: Extra?

John: Yeah.

Layton: Yeah maybe. I'm a bit more extra, but you're extra in a different way. Like, wacky.

Poppy: Yeah I have different moods, sometimes I’ll be chilled and sometimes I’ll be out there.

Layton: Yeah, I'm just always on 100! And you're always on…

John: About 30.

Layton: But it’s good because it levels us out if not we’d just be too much.

John: If I was more relaxed I’d be dead I think.

Poppy: Yeah, John’s definitely relaxed. Zen.


Do you think you all balance each other out?

Layton: Absolutely, otherwise if everyone was on 100, it's too much. We'd all be fighting for our moment. They just sit there and I can just talk at them. It's great.

Poppy: But we also are very overwhelming for other people as well, as a group sometimes I think. But we're nice!


How would you say your friendship has grown over the years?

Poppy: It was always strong in the first place, apart from when we first met each other because we didn't like each other, but it's always been strong. I guess as you grow up, you grow into friendships and you find out who are going to be your friends forever and I feel like we're definitely friends forever because we've all got really busy lives and we don't get that much time to see each other but we all make effort to see each other, so when we do see each other, we know it's very important.

Layton: Like Ibiza in two weeks!

Poppy: Yeah! I think we’ve grown and we just know that we’re going to be there for each other forever.

Layton: That's the best thing about friends, you pick your friends. It's not like family, even though I do love my family, but some people don't and they're family because of blood but we chose our tribe and that's beautiful.


What does family mean to you?

Layton: A huge part of my family is my friendship group. Without my friends, I do not know what I would be. I moved away from home when I was 12 years old, not being with my actual family so I lived at Poppy's house for months on end, we'd spend whole summers together. My friends are a huge part of my family without them I wouldn't really be ticking still I don't think. I'm really thankful for them.


What’s the thing that makes you the most proud of each other?

Layton: Seeing my people slay! Killing their work, their life! John's just got a house, grown up stuff. She's got a cat!

Poppy: I’ve got my own cat, really grown up stuff!

Layton: Just smashing life! You train and you spend years trying to work and succeed in this crazy industry and it doesn't happen for everybody but we're just all so lucky. We inspire each other to continue to keep working.

John: Hitting milestones.

Poppy: Yeah, and achieving stuff that we spoke about when we were younger at school and then seeing each other actually doing it is crazy.

Layton: Wild!

Poppy: And that’s what makes me really proud.

Layton: When I saw you dancing for whoever and watch the music videos, I literally watch them and I cry! She's there being all sexy and I'm just like I'm so proud of her! It literally makes me bawl!

Can you tell us a little about your history of playing Jamie?

Layton: Well John is the OG Jamie, so you go.

John: Thanks Layton. I created the role I guess and then passed it on.

Layton: It was weird how it happened. The show is called Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and it’s about a boy who’s from a council estate up north in Sheffield. It’s about him coming to terms with his relationship with his dad, and figuring out stuff as a 16 year old boy. When we first auditioned for it, we were on our way to a party and I said to John that I’d got this audition through and that I was going to smash it and it seemed like I’d got it in the bag. John was like, “what’s this audition for?” And I said it’s called Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and then he said “me too” and I was like… oh! Anyway, the rest is history, he got the job! He got the job! But then everything worked out in the end and I ended up doing it second so win, win! 

John, what was it like passing on the torch to Layton?

John: It was nice and I felt very secure, I knew I could trust him to do his own thing with it. I actually based a lot of it on him when I was creating it.

Layton: You’ve never told me that before!

John: Have I not? River Island exclusive. It felt nice to pass the baton on to someone I knew and it felt great. I haven't seen it yet but I'm looking forward to seeing it!

Layton: Yeah he's still actually yet to come and see me. You've got until January so it's fine.

John: But yeah, it was a nice feeling.


What does Pride mean to you?

Layton: Pride means to me, being my authentic self, being proud of who I am, hopefully inspiring others to be proud of who they are through the work that I do and the roles that I play, especially at the moment and the activism I do. Just making sure that the kids have someone to look up to in the LGBTQ+ community so they can see that it's going to be ok. It makes me proud to hopefully do that, so that's my Pride. Spread love.

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