How I got here: Kayleigh Llewellyn
Kayleigh Llewellyn is a writer, creator, actress and producer. A proud lesbian woman, she is the creator, writer and executive producer of the BAFTA award winning series, In My Skin (BBC). She also wrote on other acclaimed series like Killing Eve (BBC/AMC) and
She spoke to us about what led her to her current path and her experience of it.
What got you into writing originally?
A writing competition! I originally trained as an actor, but I wasn’t particularly successful at it.
Then in 2012 I applied for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Comedy Writing Award and won. That was a massive foot in the door for me. And as luck would have it, one of the people on the panel was Shane Allen - who at the time was the new comedy commissioner for BBC. He liked our competition entry and formally commissioned us to write the first 2 episodes. Ultimately the series was never picked up, but it meant I was getting paid to write which was huge for me. And then in 2018 it was Shane Allen who greenlit In My Skin, so he has been very instrumental in my career.
How did you get into writing for Casualty and the BBC?
In 2015, I wrote and starred in a short film called Oh Be Joyful alongside Sheila Reid. It was a huge learning curve for me, and it wound up doing well in the film festival circuit. That film then fell into the hands of a producer for Casualty, Roxanne Harvey. She saw potential in it and invited me to write on the show.
What was the process like getting into the writers’ room for Killing Eve?
It was a long process to build my career to a point where I could be considered for such a high profile show. The first step was signing with a literary agent back in 2012, which helped open professional doors. The next major step was writing on Stella (Sky One), which was my first broadcast credit. Then I wrote my short film and worked on Casualty. All throughout that period I was pitching different shows and developing them with producers, writing spec scripts, but nothing was getting picked up. And then In My Skin came along and that was the moment when things really shifted gears. That’s what led to me being considered for Killing Eve, but it didn’t happen overnight.
What was the process like for developing such a personal project like In My Skin?
Honestly, it was quite a cathartic experience. It was a hopeful, happy ending to that period of my life. I was able to make something positive out of a painful experience and use it to help people. It wasn’t without complication, of course. Writing something that personal puts you in a very vulnerable position. I had to have difficult conversations with family about the experiences depicted in the show, as it wasn’t solely my story to tell. It was extremely exposing in many ways, but ultimately it was met with such warmth and recognition from audiences. I am very grateful for that.
How does it feel to have won the BAFTA for it?
A dream come true! The fact that we were able to compete on such a platform was incredible - we had a very small budget and almost no publicity. We were just a group of women who cared about telling this story. When we won, I was completely blown away. I had always dreamed of winning a BAFTA, and it is wonderful. But I now know that the experience of making the show and working with such amazing people was the biggest gift.
Do you have any exciting plans/projects coming up that you can share?
I do have two other projects in the works that I can share. One is an original project set in Wales for Channel 4, and the other is an adaptation of Rosa Rankin-Gee’s
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to pursue writing?
While imposter syndrome exists for most people, it’s often more common in women, queer
people, anyone from a marginalised group. All you can do is try to shut down the voice that tells you you’re undeserving - as difficult as that may be! Just ask yourself ‘why not me?’ Someone else will write these stories if you don’t - probably a straight white man, and all power to them but it’s so important to have people who have lived certain experiences, to be the ones who write about them. We all have a right to tell our stories.
You can find In my skin on BBC iPLAYER.
Find Kayleigh @KayDLlew on Twitter.