Meet the Cleadon 22-Year-Old Working on Coronation Street
At just 22 years old, Katie Stubbs from Cleadon has already worked on ITV's Emmerdale and Vera and now she's on the cobbles of Coronation Street. We catch up with Katie to find out more
She was just five when she started making short films with her dad Gary, a freelance director and University of Sunderland programme leader for MA Media Production. ‘We used to enter them into the RTS Young People’s Media Festival,’ she recalls. ‘I really wanted to win it, so I’d enter something every year. The last one I entered was in 2016; it was called YOUnique and my sister was acting in it – we won Best Drama for that one. That was a great start for me, in terms of acting, writing and directing.’
Those three things led Katie to study a media course at the University of Sunderland. She graduated with a BA (Hons) Screen Performance degree in July but it was the Live TV module of her course that helped her find her passion for directing, and to see it as a career.
‘Every time I’m on set it still feels surreal, it’s
strange really. My mam and dad watch it every day.
I’m really fortunate to be there’
In her second year she was selected for the Lord Puttnam Scholars Scheme, creating an online documentary during the pandemic about life in lockdown, which Oscar-winning film producer Lord David Puttnam included in an Open University talk. And while studying, she was working behind the scenes of plenty of popular shows. ‘It was during Covid that I started working professionally,’ Katie says. ‘With a lot of work being online, it gave me a good step into the industry.’
In 2021 she became a runner on CBBC’s The Dumping Ground, before working on shows such as Netflix’s The Last Kingdom, the BBC’s Gentleman Jack, Channel 5’s All Creatures Great and Small, ITV’s Vera and films such as The Railway Children Return and Paramount’s Dungeons and Dragons. She later returned to work on The Dumping Ground, but this time as a full-time third assistant director (3rd AD).
She spent the summer of 2021 working as a 3rd AD for the ITV soap Emmerdale, working alongside her dad. They were the first daughter-father duo to work as part of the assistant director team on the soap.
The following year Katie achieved her first 1st AD credit when working on an up-coming campaign for Primark. ‘That was a two-day shoot in Manchester and it was a really good learning experience for me,’ Katie says. ‘I was the youngest there, but also working on one of the most important jobs. I had to rearrange the schedule on the day around four times because of availability of cast and crew. It was a challenge but I really enjoyed it, and we even managed to finish early.’
Katie then went on to work as a 1st AD for two British Film Institute films. ‘For one of them, the cast was mostly children so it was all about looking after their hours when it came to the schedule and making sure the shots were done on time, while also managing the special effects. It’s a lot of pressure, but it was great.’
Katie’s dream job was always to work on the longest running British soap opera, Coronation Street – and now freelancing, she’s finally living her dream, coordinating, preparing and cueing extras and directing them in background action. The most recent storyline Katie has been working on is Max and Griff’s gang and the issues around far-right extremism. She worked on lot of the larger crowd scenes where the bomb exploded. ‘It’s quite tricky when they say we’re going to go from a certain line and there’s a big group of people to get in their places.
‘When we don’t have extras, it’s a case of taking care of cast and crew, and making sure they’re on set on time. The cast and crew are so lovely. Every time I’m on set it still feels surreal, it’s strange really. My mam and dad watch it every day. I’m really fortunate to be there.’
Katie is proof that anyone can achieve their dreams if they put the hard work in, and with that in mind she shares her advice for young people looking to get into a similar role. ‘If you want to do it, and you’ve worked hard enough and studied hard enough, go for it,’ she says. ‘Once you’ve got one job, that’s your way in, you just need to know where to look. Anything’s possible, I know everyone says that, but it really is.
‘Sometimes I might have a week or two off work, because I’m freelancing, but you can always find something to get stuck into. Summer is normally the busiest time.’ She puts her success down to hard work and having faith in herself but also says it’s important to ‘listen to the support around you’.
The future looks bright for Katie and she continues to dream big. ‘I’d love to work on something big like a Disney, Marvel or feature film,’ she says. ‘Who knows when, but eventually I’d love to do something like that.’
Your favourite place to walk in the North East?
A series you’ve enjoyed?
I watched the Divergent series of films recently. It was really good!
Your favourite place to eat in the North East?
I really like STACK because I’m veggie, and there’re loads of options!
The best place to hang out on a Friday night?
Beggar’s Bridge, East Boldon.
An item you couldn’t live without?