Dagenham’s Samuel twins set for acting stardom as CBeebies cartoon beckons

Twins Taiya and Tyiana. Picture: Charlene Samuel

Twins Taiya and Tyiana. Picture: Charlene Samuel - Credit: Archant

The Samuel twins are everything you would expect from eight-year-old girls. They’re energetic, enthusiastic and endearing. They’re also child stars, having worked in the industry since the age of four. They already boast an impressive portfolio of work.

When I meet Taiya and Tyiana at Dagenham's Spotlight stage school I'm struck by their confidence. Not annoyed that their tap-dance lesson has been interrupted; they immediately start telling me about their lives with the help of mum Charlene.

True to being twins, they answer my first question — "do you enjoy performing?" — in unison. "Yes" they chime. The twins have already featured in adverts for Asda, McDonald's, Legoland and Google.

They were six when they did their first film. Farming featured Kate Beckinsale and was directed by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. They struck up something of a friendship with Kate on set, who still checks up on the girls now.

They also do separate projects. Taiya stars in the upcoming series JoJo and Gran Gran, which is coming to CBeebies this spring.

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Mum Charlene is "so proud" that Taiya is starring in the first black British animation, with the youngster explaining the audition process: "it was really upsetting for other people, because they said 'can we have these people, and everyone else can leave'."

Rejection is part and parcel of the industry, and Charlene says the number one requirement is "thick skin". The twins' different personalities are laid bare when I ask them how they feel when they don't get a part.

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Outgoing Taiya says: "I don't mind because we have so many other castings to attend." Tyiana, by contrast, says: "I get upset sometimes, especially when I really want a role."

Charlene calls Tyiana "the sensible one", with Taiya the self-titled "queen".

Both girls have a bright future ahead, guided by mum Charlene who wants these experiences to teach the girls "work ethic, resilience and self-belief". She was inspired to get them into performing early on, remarking that "we live in this area (Dagenham), and there's not a lot of opportunities".

At only eight years old, that already appears to be an incredibly savvy decision.

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