Heather Peace talks “Waterloo Road” and her new album in the works

Heather Peace has had quite a successful career, but the actress really stole our collective lesbian heart on the Scottish television series Lip Service as DS Sam “Hot Cop” Murray, a police detective who was both tough and tender. While the series was not renewed after its second season, Heather Peace has continued to stay on our radar in a big way. A singer/songwriter to boot, Heather released her album Fairytales in 2012, which was followed by a sold out concert tour of the UK and Australia. The out actress currently stars on the popular BBC1 series Waterloo Road as teacher Nikki Boston, who also happens to be a lesbian. Waterloo Road just kicked off its tenth season and Heather took some time to chat with us about her character Nikki, and her brand new album due out this spring.

Heather Peace, London 2013.Photo by Lucy Pope

AfterEllen: Last season on Waterloo Road, your character Nikki got a hell of a surprise when the daughter (Eve) she gave up years before seeks her out. How has this development affected Nikki?
Heather Peace: Nikki’s daughter turning up has definitely shaken her world. She is a real avoider in matters of a personal nature and I think she should perhaps have some therapy to deal with this! She definitely transferred all of her maternal feelings onto Kacey Barry—before and after Eve finds her—during her Boxing mentoring. If Nikki was writing this, she wouldn’t think their relationship had anything to do with feeling maternal. Hence the therapy situation.

AE: Eve was pretty devastated when we last saw her, having learned the truth about why Nikki gave her up. Is the door open at all for Eve and Nikki’s relationship to evolve?
HP: Yes definitely, we see Eve again during this term and they are really trying to build their relationship. There are a few really poignant scenes coming up later in the series between the two of them and Nikki’s new partner, which I think are really great. I was pleased that Waterloo Road showed that whole situation because that still hasn’t been explored much on television in the UK.

AE: At the end of last season, there were some major sparks flying between Nikki and Sue’s sister Vix. Can you tell us anything about a possible romance between the two in Season 10?
HP: We start the series with them very firmly together and they seem really happy. This leads to Nikki having to address her sexuality with her class and again I’m really proud of that scene, I think it’s handled very well. But of course, it’s a drama series so the path of love never will run smoothly. Nikki, I think, suffers from a bit of internal homophobia. She’s not sure about herself, which makes her unclear about how to deal with the rest of the world. In particular she can’t work out how to approach telling Eve and at first decides to maybe deny her and Vix’s romance, much to her girlfriend’s dismay–especially as Vix is the opposite of Nikki, she’s very together, centered and proud of who she is. Nikki is prone to a little bit of self-sabotage and we unfortunately watch her try to trash her own chance at happiness. (Therapy?)

VixNikkiflirtingbyAlanPeeblesPhoto by Alan Peebles

AE: You’ve been out for quite some time and your career continues to thrive. Within the last few years, have you seen a change in the way the industry (and the viewing public at large) views gay and lesbian actors, or do you think it still has a ways to go?
HP: I don’t know really. I’ve yet to land a really straight role since I came out?! But then, maybe I’m not looking too hard as I played straight roles for the first 12 years of my career and I’m quite enjoying the difference playing the roles I have recently. I do think things are changing generally in terms of attitudes and there are gradually more out actors on television so hopefully that will continue to grow and I’m happy to be involved in the industry as these changes happen.

AE: Not only are you a popular actress but you are a very talented musician as well. You new album is coming out this spring, and you have tours planned in the UK and Australia. How do you balance both careers?
HP: I always thought; if you don’t know what decision to make then just don’t force it and the answer will become obvious. I’ve had three years of balancing the two jobs and knew that when the decision came to concentrate solely on one aspect of my career then it would become clear. That’s what happened. I want my second album to the best it could possibly be and can only do that if there is nothing splitting my focus. That’s why I made the decision to leave Waterloo Road for the time being. I was writing in the evenings whilst filming, but not coming up with the material i was totally happy with, because i was learning lines and filming long days. As soon as i stopped and just focused on the music, the songs started coming. Creativity needs space; it can’t have time constraints. Some songs take an hour to write, others I will have been working on for months. I miss everyone at Waterloo Road but I am super excited about the new tours and going to Australia.

AE: What can fans expect from this new album?
HP: It’s much more upbeat than the first, probably a bit poppier and funkier too. We have an awesome producer, James Lewis who records in a very classic way with vintage microphones, valve amps, spillage of sound from one mic to another – very much like they used to make records in the olden times! So it’s got a big, raw, live sound and intimate feel. I’m really proud of the songs and feel like I’ve moved forward and learned so much as a writer. Being in the studio making this album was an incredibly happy and creative time, I can’t wait for people to hear it.

MaybyLucyPopePhoto by Lucy Pope

AE: Congratulations on your recent nuptials! Would you be willing to share a little about your special day with us?
HP: We had our Civil Partnership on a beautiful bandstand on Brighton beach, my home town. We then had a barbecue and a big old knees up with family and close friends. An intimate affair and the best day of my life. I totally recommend it.

AE: Many fans are still mourning the loss of Lip Service, myself included. Sam Murray was so complex and fantastic and it was so disappointing to not see that character grow even further with another season. The chemistry between Sam and Lexi was so intense. If you had your way, what sort of ending would you have given Sam?
HP: Oh gosh, it feels like such a long time ago now. A happy one, without a doubt. She was such a good person. Marriage, kids and a big powerful job promotion are what Sam Murray deserves. After a bit more turmoil of course. Oh, and therapy!

Waterloo Road is on BBC One on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.  You can check out Heather’s tour dates at www.heatherpeace.com and follow her for news on Twitter @heatherpeace.