She’s widely known for being one third of the world’s biggest girl group, and now Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock is making her solo big screen debut in the Christmas rom-com extravaganza Boxing Day.
Leigh-Anne stars in the film, which she has dubbed “fun, cultural and spectacular” as a successful pop star named Georgia, whose ex-boyfriend Melvin (Aml Ameen) travels home to London from the US for Christmas with his fiancée, Lisa (Aja Naomi King).
But when Georgia and Melvin’s paths cross once again, their feelings for each other from the past appear to surface once again and chaos unfurls.
Portraying a singer is exactly what appealed to the 30-year-old, who has had a whopping four top 10 hits in the UK this year alone.
“I think what attracted me was the fact that she is quite similar to me, in the sense that she’s a pop star, she's very relatable and it just made me think ‘okay, I feel like this has come for a reason. I need to just give this a go’,” Leigh-Anne explains to Tyla.
After three auditions and meeting director, co-writer and co-star Aml Ameen, Leigh-Anne secured her first acting gig, which involves a rousing solo live performance which she said filming without her ‘sisters’ was ‘terrifying’.
She says: “Georgia goes through such an emotional roller coaster in the film, and I knew I had to nail it and do it justice."
Following the news that Little Mix are taking a break after the Confetti tour in 2022, Leigh-Anne spoke further about her feelings on singing solo for the first time in Boxing Day.
“It was really strange being on that stage in jazz café scene. I haven't sung on my own for like 10 years. So, that was like petrifying.
“But I think it's also nice because I think people finally get to really hear me sing. And I don't think a lot of people have really heard me sing like that. Especially when you're in a group.”
Boxing Day has the distinction of being the UK’s first ever Christmas-set romantic comedy led by an all-black cast.
After emphasising the importance of representation on screen following her ground breaking BBC documentary, Race, Pop and Power, starring in such a culturally significant film is not a feat Leigh-Anne takes for granted.
“I think there definitely isn't enough representation like across the board. Let’s face it,” Leigh-Anne explains. “This film is so needed - an all-black cast, first of its kind British rom-com, and not just a film about gangs and violence.
"This film is showing black people [and] showing the black community just for what it is and that's normalising it. I think it's so important and I'm just so happy that a Aml made this [film].”
And we may see Leigh-Anne in more films after being bitten by the acting bug. “I definitely hope this opens more doors,” she says before hinting she’d love to star in an action movie.
Leigh-Anne received lots of support from her co-stars, including How to Get Away With Murder alumni Aja. And the concluded Viola Davis-fronted legal drama has a new fan. “So, I hadn't seen it before,” Leigh-Anne confesses. “But then when I was filming I thought ‘okay, I needed to watch it.’ And me and my fiancé (footballer Andre Gray) sat down and binged the whole thing and I genuinely think it was one of the best series ever made. It's so good.
"And Viola Davis and Aja [are] just oh my gosh, they're incredible.
“It actually scared me because I was like ‘you are so good. How am I acting alongside you, this is just surreal.’ [Aja] really helped me.”
In August Leigh-Anne gave birth to twins which means not only is she making her film debut this Christmas, the new mum-of-two is also preparing for her first festive season with an expanded family. So, what does she have planned? “This Christmas I think is literally all about family. Everyone comes to mind. We have loads of foods, and, we just enjoy each other's company and get a little bit merry and I’ll have the babies. My sister’s [Sairah] just had a little boy as well. it's gonna be pretty cool!”
Boxing Day is in UK cinemas from Friday 3rd December 2021.