‘No one thought I’d keep the weight off but I did – I’ll prove everyone wrong again’, says Tina Malone

Tina Malone beams as she introduces the members of her self-named drama school at Manchester’s Hotel Brooklyn. The former Shameless star is determined to give the diverse group of young actors the best start to their drama careers, sharing her own experiences after 30-odd eventful years in showbiz.

And she’s got a big goal in mind to do just that. She’s aiming to raise enough funds on a crowdfunder to take them all to perform off Broadway in New York.

She needs to raise £70,000 and she knows it’s a massive target – but Tina knows all about defying expectations. Tina says: “I know what it’s like to beat the odds. I got a gastric band ten years ago and I know people said: “oh bless her she thinks she can be a size 8” – but you know what? I got to to size 6.

Read more : Where the cast of hit show Shameless all are now

“Then people were saying: “Oh bless her, she thinks she can have a baby at her age – and you know what? I did, at the age of 50. So, I know I’ll raise this money for these kids.”

Tina (centre) with students from her acting academy

It has been ten years since Tina had her gastric band fitted – and she went on to lose a huge 12 stone – dropping from a size 32 at her biggest to a size 6 at her slimmest. She’s managed to keep the weight off all that time and says having the band fitted is one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

“It’s the best thing I ever did,” she says. “I did it because I was getting married and I didn’t want to look like a pig in a frock. I went to see a doctor and he said ‘you’re morbidly clincally obese’ so I knew I had to do something about my weight.”

Tina, who played Mimi Maguire in hit drama Shameless, is now determined with her latest goal to raise the £95,000 needed (with the hope of £70,000 by Crowdfunder donation) to take her students on their American Dream. She has been running the Tina Malone Academy for acting students for the past 25 years across Liverpool and Manchester.

Tina pictured as Mimi in Shameless (left) and how she appears today

Tina, 59, says: “It’s always been a dream of mine to do off-Broadway theatre, and I just thought these kids are so talented it’s frightening. They’re a very mixed, diverse group and some have been horrendously bullied in the past.

“The way I work is I’m not as big as all the other drama schools, they’re much more polished, but my parents pay me to teach them and I get them into work. I’m about the education, everything from Shakespeare to acting to camera. The way I teach is quite unique – I’m a realist, I teach them the pitfalls, and goodness the past few years have taught me a lot about that.”

For Tina has fought some of the toughest battles of her life over the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic. She has been struck TWICE by Covid, and ended up in hospital three times with the after-effects.

Tina says: “In April I lost the biggest job of my life because of Covid. I’ve had the virus twice now and I’ve been hospitalized with a blood clot, pneumonia, kidney failure, low potassium, the lot.

“I’ve now got Long Covid and the biggest effect it has had on me is the fog, the drain on my energy. It sometimes feels like I’m wading in molasses.”

But Tina continues to plow her energies into her acting classes, with the goal of directing and starring in the play alongside them off Broadway, New York’s legendary theater district. Tina and her students de ella met up with the MEN at Manchester’s New York-themed Hotel Brooklyn as they spoke of their hopes for the trip later this year.

Tina has shared her NYC dreams – pictured outside Manchester’s Hotel Brooklyn

She says: “Some of these kids would never dream of going to America in a million years. They see the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch up in lights, but there are very few Kathy Burkes and Ray Winstones, the working classes, where would these kids get the chance to audition, if your dad is not at the RSC?

“They’re so brave, and they’ve got talent in abundance, I’m sharing the stage with them, I think it’s an incredible opportunity. A writer from Leeds has written the play and I’m in it, my nine young people all have different issues and I just want to show these people on stage they’re not just good, they’re not just able, they’re brilliant.

“It’s an uplifting story but it deals with a story from Liverpool to New York – it’s about spreading your wings and looking at the bigger picture of life, and young people who are in care or institutions or dealing with what’s the norm now of broken homes .

“It will be a two week run in a theater in Manhattan and we’re raising money on a Crowdfunder. We still need £58,000 and you might say there’s far more worthy charities, but you’re giving these people hope.

“You’re giving one of nine people opportunity. 20 years ago everyone said why do acting? What a precarious job but do you know what? What’s not precarious any more? Why not go to Broadway you’ve got nothing to lose.”

Tina says she’s still as driven as she ever was with her acting career, having recently appeared in Tin Star and Clink. And her de ella straight talking about the highs and lows of the acting world have been appreciated by her young students.

All of them spoke of how the acting classes have given them confidence and how they could never have dreamed of the chance to appear in a play off Broadway until Tina came up with the idea.

Tina Malone with students from her acting academy pictured at the NYC themed Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester

Alex O’Hara, 18, from Runcorn has been at Tina’s academy for four years and said: “I’ve always been quite shy but this has helped with my confidence. I was bullied at primary school because I was a bit different, but being around other people who maybe have also felt like outcasts at some point in their life has really helped me come into my own.”

Lexie Ferguson, also 18 and from Runcorn, said: “I used to be so shy, I just love acting and I never wanted to work in office. Tina can be straight with us, but she’s like a friend. We are so excited about the chance to go to New York.”

You can support the Liverpool to New York crowdfunder project by clicking here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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