Sarah Jayne Dunn is best known for her long running character, Mandy Richardson in Channel 4's soap, Hollyoaks. But taking regular breaks from her soap character has given her the chance to play various characters on stage in well established plays such as 'The Vagina Monologues' and 'When Harry Met Sally' aswell as films such as Hollywood blockbuster, The Dark Knight.
She will be back on screen shortly playing a character in the much anticipated film 'Death'. K9 Magazine caught up with Sarah to find all about her love of dogs, what's next and the new love of her life - a Beagle called Wilson.
Tell us about your dog, Wilson - we'd like to know everything about him!
Wilson is an 11 week old Beagle, so still very much a baby. He's been with us around 3 weeks now and gets his final injection in the next few days so we're really excited to be able to start taking him out after that. He's such a funny boy, he's a real character.
Before we got him we really researched the breed. I've always had Shih Tzus, but my fiance, Darren, wanted a dog bigger than a Shih Tzu so we looked at the different breeds we thought we could own, Springer Spaniels, King Charles Spaniels and we have friends with a Beagle, so we started looking into the breed and found they were good with kids, good with dogs and short haired. So I spoke with the Beagle Association to get some advice on finding breeders and she put us in touch with Eardley Hall Farm in Staffordshire.
We were going on holiday so we knew we couldn't do much more before we were back and we were told they'd just had two litters of puppies with puppies in each litter. We'd decided we wanted a boy and there were three boys.
We were encouraged to visit every week to see the puppies as they grew and developed and we got a lot of great advice from the breeders. They've been brilliant and it was great to see both of Wilson's parents to get a feel for how big he might grow.
Deep down we knew we wanted Wilson, but the breeders who show aswell were deciding between two of the boys and we waited for their decision before and I think it was fate that Wilson came home with us.
When did your interest in pets/animals begin and how long have you been a pet owner?
Well we've owned Shih Tzus, we have a picture of me as a little baby around 1 year old with Westley. My mum's such a softie, we got Westley because someone came to our door and said they'd found him and didn't know what to do, so my mum said 'we'll take him'. Then we had Barney, another Shih Tzu and a Yorkshire Terrier at the same time, and then Leo.
I got Leo when I'd moved out of home but went home a lot, but with working so much and living in an apartment, he split his time between living with my parents and me because my apartment wasn't so pet friendly.
He got attached to my parents and when he came to live with me, he came for a week and my parents really missed him. They suggested maybe sharing but I didn't think that was fair on him to go between both homes and so he lives with my parents.
I really missed having a dog around and we knew now was a good time to bring a dog into our home. Darren works 9-5 most of the week, I've got a bit of a gap now having just finished Hollyoaks and so I'm around more and can be here while Wilson settles in properly.
We make sure we leave him for an hour here and there so he gets used to the fact we go out sometimes but I'm loving every moment.
You've been lucky enough to have played a few different characters in your career, everyone will of course know you as Mandy Hutchinson in Hollyoaks, to appearing in films such as A Dark Knight, to performing in theatres. What have you got coming up?
Well I've left Hollyoaks now and have a film coming out at the end of this year called Death which was really fun to do. I've also just been in The Real Hustle, so that was something different and I really enjoyed that.
I really enjoy going back to Hollyoaks and spending time there, I think this was my third six month contract that's just finished. The set is just down the road from me, it's a lovely team and the cast are great.
It's also close to home so I can spend time at home when I'm there and have almost normal working hours, but I also really like the fact I can take a bit of time out and do something entirely different.
Who inspired you to follow a career in acting?
Well when I started at Hollyoaks I was just 14 years old, so I was so young to be honest I didn't know what I wanted as a career. I liked modelling aswell and it was my agent at the time who got me an audition and it went from there. From that point on my contract just kept getting renewed and after 10 years, I decided to go out into the world. It's pretty unusual in this industry to have a stable job, it's almost unheard of.
We also saw you star in Channel 4's Famous and Fearless this year, would you ever consider doing other reality TV shows?
I love Strictly Come Dancing – which girl wouldn't like to get all dressed up and be danced around the floor. I grew up watching it and with Brucie, I think it'd be brilliant. But I imagine it's really difficult to get into – who would turn them down?
I also really like Dancing on Ice. I watch most reality shows, but although you can never say never, I'd really only like to do one that challenged me. One that I can learn something from, a skill or an opportunity I might never have.
Famous and Fearless was great in that sense, it pushed me to do fun stuff I'd probably never have done and raised a lot of money for charity.
Do you have a motto that you live your life by? What would you say Wilson's motto might be?
Mine would be 'everything for a reason'. I really believe, particularly with this type of a career, you go up for a lot of auditions. You might really want one but 3 months, 3 years, who knows how long down the line something much better might come up and if you'd have got the first role you'd never have been able to take it, so I really believe everything happens for a reason. I also say 'no regrets'. You can't live your life with regrets.
(Laughs) Wilson's would probably be 'eat as much as you can' – it was really funny Tim and Steve at Eardley Hall Farm gave us this list of Beagle quotes and they were all similar to 'if it's on the floor, it's mine' and 'if it's in your hand, it's mine'.
If you were to swap roles with Wilson for a day, how do you think he'd cope being you and what would you most love about being him?
If I were him I'd love to get on the couch like he does. He gets on and squeezes in between Darren and I and lies on his back. It's funny to see we end up saying 'do you think he's settled in?', he's so funny. I'd love to have all of the fuss and treats he gets.
And if he were me, I think he'd see how much wee I mop up and he'd be forever mopping up wee and picking up poo. All very glamourous!
For this question, we ask our celebs to match up the following people’s personality to a breed of dog, for example, Winston Churchill = Bulldog or J.Lo = Afghan Hound, Frank Bruno = Boxer etc. If the following celebrities and dog lovers were breeds of dogs, based on their personalities alone, what type of breed do you think they'd be...
Jamie Lomas (plays Warren Fox, Hollyoaks) – (Laughs) Well if you went by looks I'd probably say a Rottweiler or a Staffy, because he's got a ruffty-tuffty look to him. But if you go by personality, he'd be a Westie. He's a cheeky chap.
Tulisa (N-Dubz singer/X-Factor judge) – She's so lovely isn't she. I think she's be a King Charles Spaniel, she's really bubbly, very honest.
Jonathan Ross (Chat show host) – He'd be a Dulux dog! Definitely an Old English Sheepdog springs to mind, he's a real softy, this one's a little bit based on looks to be honest!
Jenny Frost (Famous and Fearless co-star and OK! TV presenter) – (Laughs) She'd be a lovely, little yappy dog, probably a Yorkshire Terrier. She's so lovely, you just want to squeeze her but you wouldn't get a word in edge ways with her which is how I'd assume Yorkshire Terriers would be.
Which do you prefer and why?
Big dogs or little dogs – I don't really have a preference to be honest. I've always had little dogs, but a friend of mine owns St Bernards and they're gorgeous, very cute and real softies.
Pedigree dogs or x breeds – I don't really prefer one over the other, it's more about the dog itself and how healthy it is. We've had both and we mainly went for a Beagle because of the health aspects of the breed. We really chose the breeder very carefully for safety to find a good breeder and avoid puppy farms.
Days off or days at work – I think you need a mixture of both really. I love being busy, but I think if you are busy, you like to have time off. So I think you need a balance of both to appreciate them.
Describe the last time you laughed outloud because of something you saw Wilson or another dog do.
Well Wilson's recently learned how to jump off the couch. He sort of takes a run up and then jumps off, which looks like more of a dive. It's so funny, when he first did it, we looked at him and didn't really believe he'd do it. But then he landed on the floor, got up and shook his head wondering how he got down there!
If you had the choice to arrange a dinner party taking three people (choosing from any era, past or present), who would you choose?
Oh that's a good question! I'd probably invite Beyonce, I'm a little obsessed with her. I just think she's brilliant and super talented. I think she'd be fascinating to talk to. Then I'd have to invite Stephen Fry, I think he be so fascinating aswell – almost like you could ask him anything and he'd know the answer.
And finally I'd have to invite Julie Andrews. I've been a big fan of hers since I was little and she's a gorgeous singer. It would be great to speak with her about acting and pick her brain.
What is your current favourite…?
TV show – I always get sucked into reality TV shows and there's so many around just now. I'm watching X Factor, Dragons Den and Made In Chelsea. I really love Spooks aswell, it's such a great show, really well written with great acting. My friend is in it just now so I'm watching supporting him aswelll.
Film – For comedy, I love Anchorman with Will Ferrell. I love him and it's a film I can watch over and over again. For a bit of a rom-com, I really like A Lot Like Love with Ashton Kutcher. It's a couple of years old I think but it's a film I can watch if it's a rainy day or I'm not feeling well, or just want to watch something easy going.
Book – I've just started reading One Day by David Nicholls so I've been avoiding the trailers for the film with Anne Hathaway as much as I can. I've also recently finished reading The Room by Emma Donoghue which was inspired by the Josef Fritzl case.
If you could sum it up, what do you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?
Apart from the unconditional love that you get, I think it gets you out of the house. It gives you an excuse for going for long walks. It gets you exploring your neighbourhood and chatting with other dog owners.
Finish the following sentence, my dog is...the cutest part of my new family. Almost makes me think I don't need kids, I've got my dog!
And finally, this is always a tough question and often requires a fair degree of thinking time but….If Wilson had the ability to speak and answer one question and one question only, what would you ask them and what do you think that they would say?
Oh that is a tough one, well, I'd probably ask if he was happy. We've taken him from his brothers, sisters and parents and I'd ask if he was happy.
He seems made up, but it would be nice to have some reassurance.
Many Thanks Sarah!
Sarah Jayne Dunn Was Speaking With Kim O'Meara