Gaia Mondadori - don’t recognise the name? Get with the times, she’s starred in The Witcher, Everything I Know About Love and Fake It Till You Make It at Edinburgh Fringe. I couldn’t spend more than three minutes with this Education student at Michaelhouse cafe without someone coming up to say hi. BNOC. She sat with Varsity to discuss her journey in the acting industry, as well as her experience writing and starring in theatre.

Ranking third on Netflix’s most-watched shows of all time, Gaia described her time on The Witcher as an “amazing experience,” adding “I was so grateful for the opportunity to work with fantastic actors and a creative team”. Being part of such an established show meant that “from the costume, to hair and makeup, to the set” everything was “incredible” and “such a huge learning experience for me”. She looked back fondly on her experience with the show and felt “lucky to have been a part of it”.

However, her roots in acting lie where many young actors find their passion for the stage: youth theatre. With like-minded talented individuals and inspiring mentors it’s no surprise that she “learnt everything there”. A small role in Tess of the d’Urbervilles was her first show, she found an affinity to the stage unmatched by another career. “It’s so fun. It’s just playing the whole time”: it’s clear she has a preordained talent for it.

“I was so grateful for the opportunity to work with fantastic actors and a creative team”

Gaia got her start early on, but “not everyone has the opportunity” to. With the acting scene flooded with “privileged, well-connected people”, Gaia shared her thoughts on the exclusivity associated with both stage and screen. She recognised the “inaccessibility of the field”: she said it is “slowly changing through access schemes”, but noted how “acting is a big part of my life and my peers, while for others it’s a foreign field”. In light of her degree, she’s aware of the “disparities in the school system” with the provision of drama and recognises her privilege in the environment she grew up in.

When it comes to acting, there is, of course, the golden question: is training or talent more important? Gaia believes it’s “neither”. In order to survive “an industry built on rejection”, the most prominent characteristic you need is “a love for it”. To survive the lows, “your imagination has to stretch to limitless bounds in order to keep the momentum after hardships”. Time is constantly dwindling at Cambridge, but for Gaia, she utilises her degree as an aid to her acting. “What I read in my degree may come up in something I write, or give an idea for a character.” Then, laughing, she admits “I also feel like I don’t do that much work.” Her advice: “work smart, not hard.”

Just having completed a round at Edinburgh Fringe, her one-woman show: Fake It Till You Make It is moving to Camden People’s Theatre. Her inspirations for writing and starring in the show were derived from the “exploration of the masks people wear to make others feel at ease and portray a certain persona and the misfiring of that”. Tying it together with her “experience of being a woman in the acting industry”, her aim is to show the reality of “trying to make it”. “If that is the framework of your life” she asks, “what do you do when it doesn’t work?”

“What I read in my degree may come up in something I write, or give an idea for a character.”

Acting is a challenge, but what was the hardest thing for Gaia? Was it working on a hit Netflix show or bringing the vision of a bestselling book to the BBC? Turns out, it’s Fake It Till You Make It. “To be the only person on stage” was a daunting task for her to face but she grew to love the role and is excited to share her work. To see her vision grow from the “initial ideas, to the writing, to rehearsals and finally on stage” is something that she found to be satisfying: seeing “how the audience would react to particular scenes or changes in the script”.

One of the highlights of working on her show is the all-female team. Being a young woman is complicated. Being a young woman in such a male-dominated industry is even harder. As Gaia reflected on the pressures she feels that her male counterparts “don’t think twice about”, one thing darts out of her mouth: “intimacy scenes”. “For a lot of the roles I’ve had, I’m not sure if a male actor, the same age as me, would have similar content in terms of intimacy.”

Big things are forecasted for this Gonville & Caius third year. Her passion for acting is tangible and mixed with a charming personality, Gaia Mondadori is bound to join the list of notable Cambridge alumni.


What would you be if you weren’t into acting?

A bird specialist

Any pre-show rituals?

Listening to music.

Favourite thing about Cambridge theatre?

The talented people you meet

Least favourite thing about Cambridge theatre?


Favourite Role so far?

Alice in Alice in Wonderland at the Rose Theatre.

Dream Role

Suzie from I Hate Suzie

Three actors you’d love to work with?

Olivia Coleman, Laura Dern, Viola Davis


Mountain View

Chaos is ‘a trance-like journey of artistic growth’

Varsity or The Tab?

Can’t pick (she mouthed Varsity).

Revs or Lola’s?

I’ve never been to Lola’s, so Revs. I love Grandma Groove.

What’s next for you?

I’m open to whatever happens.