Posted: 15 October 2013
He has acted in ‘The Lion King’ on London’s West End and sang his heart out on ‘The Voice’ on national TV. He’s been coached by Will.I.Am and Jessie J, and has plans to release an EP early next year, however Matt Henry’s path to success has its roots in Roehampton. We caught up with Matt to ask him a few questions about his time at Roehampton and life since.
Matt arrived in 1997 to study Drama and Sociology in Digby Stuart. “When I first started I was living off campus. I then realised that I didn’t want that as I was missing out on a lot so I made a late application for residence. A few days later I was given a room in Bede House. But in those days they used to separate the boys and the girls and I was allocated the only room available and I ended up living in the girls section! But it was fine, I really enjoyed life in residence, and I made lots of friends there. I returned to Bede in my 3rd year as a flat rep.”
During his time at Roehampton, Matt was involved in several extra-curricular , most significantly he was part of the Roehampton Players. In his first year with the players he sang in the chorus of a production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical ‘Merrily We Roll Along.’ But the following year he took a step up to acting by landing the role of the pharaoh in the Player’s production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.’
Matt happily reminisced about his time outside of class and the Players. “I really enjoyed being on campus in Roehampton, every Friday there was a ‘Bop’ that my friends and I would go too. The Summer Ball was also amazing. I loved doing all the typical student things, I really did love my time there.”
After Matt graduated from Roehampton in 2001 he gained a scholarship to study at the URDang Academy – a Performing Arts School in Covent Garden. “I was there for 2 years, but I didn’t finish my 3rd year as I landed my first professional job in The Lion King in the West End. I was first cover to the lead role of Simba. I spent just over 2 years with The Lion King, after that I went on to do other shows like Miss Saigon, Saturday Night Fever, Avenue Q, The Rat Pack and Shakespeare’s Globe. I’ve been doing theatre for the past 10-15 years now.”
While Matt has an extensive portfolio in theatre, most people know him today as one of the stand out stars of this years ‘The Voice’ on BBC. Matt recalled the fear that he felt when he first stepped out onto stage to the back of 4 chairs. “That was the most nerve racking thing in the world. As a performer when you audition, people see you and you see them and there is no cameras there. If you do a bad audition it’s only a few people that see you. But here it was different. I was taking a big career risk as I was auditioning for the nation. It was the most stressful thing in the world but also one of my biggest achievements.” At the end of his audition all 4 coaches had turned to face him.
Over the next few weeks Matt made it through round after round and was initially coached by Will.I.Am. “People have always said I look like Will.I.Am so it was a weird experience meeting him face-to-face, because one of the first things he said to me was ‘Matt you look like my brother! Could your dad be my dad?’ Then I moved to Team Jessie. She was a great coach, always pushing me to get the best vocals out of me. She is an amazing vocalist. To have the opportunity to work with her was a big deal for me.”
Matt finished in fourth place and has fond memories of his time on ‘The Voice’. “The show is a huge machine, but and it gives singers the opportunities to showcase to a wider audience. It has helped me a great deal, I’ve gone from being offered understudy roles to being offered the lead roles in theatre. I’m in the studio now working with great producers and I’m looking to put an EP out next year. The show has presented me more opportunities for myself. It’s a good machine and it’s great for performers.”
Before ending the interview Matt had some words for the current and prospective drama students of Roehampton. “Compared to my day, Roehampton has come on a long way. I would recommend Roehampton to any aspiring drama student or actor today.”
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