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Coronation Street

Harry Visinoni Interview

Harry Visinoni gives us a closer look at the Nina and Seb Hate Crime Attack storyline.

What was it like having Corrie as your first professional job?

It feels like everyone went off to university and this has been my university, it has been the best education that one could ask for. I have learnt so much about acting, television, how production works and being on set so I have really been blessed with this opportunity. It’s a constant process of practicing and learning and I’ve really managed to hone myself. A few months ago I went back and watched a few scenes from when I first started the show and thought, “Wow, I’ve improved so much.” It’s interesting because every storyline I get, I think “Wow, that is definitely the best performance that I have given.” 

Describe Seb in your own words. 

Seb is quite a troubled person, I feel sorry for him because he has had a lonely and stressful existence. He has been defined by other people throughout his whole life because his life has been based on caring for people and he has not managed to escape from that. It has weighed him down. He was looking after his mum, then trying to raise his siblings and then he latched on to Alina and did the same thing with her so it has been a long process for him to recover from the trauma of his past.

He can have quite a reckless nature at times but I think the older he gets, the more at peace he is becoming. He is going through a process of forgiveness with his mum and understanding the decision that she made with the twins and he has come to accept that. With the twins leaving and being adopted, it has freed Seb from that responsibility and this past year we have started to see Seb heal and enjoy not having the responsibility of other people any more. 

Would you say he has a strength of character to get through his past? He could be forgiven for going off the rails. 

One hundred percent. I think it takes an innate strength to come out of the other side of all the things he has been through without being a bad person. In paradox, you could say that seeing all this trauma happen has taught him and given him a moral compass. Seb understands right from wrong because he has seen so much wrong. 

Would you say that Seb is also a bit of a romantic? He seems to love being in love.

Yes, he does.  I think it comes back to all these complexities and his need to have someone there to care for. That is his mental script that has been written for him by all his experiences throughout his life, it has resulted in him being this romantic character, always intent on having someone really close to him. 

Have you enjoyed that evolution of the character and playing a role that has not got a beginning, middle or end?

Yes, and that is one of the blessings that comes with working on Coronation Street or another soap in general. I have had the opportunity to grow with this person and it’s funny because I have lived a parallel life to my character, obviously I have changed just as much as Seb has and it has been interesting to see where he is at compared to where I am at. 

What do you think it is about Nina that attracted Seb to her?

Right from the off, they have this banter where they totally understand the context and meaning of what the other person is saying so that immediately drew him in to her because they are operating on the same wavelength. They have this very immediate, sarcastic and cynical banter and Seb thinks, “Wow, me and this girl could just talk all day, we just click so well.” Seb hasn’t had that with a girl before. 

With Alina, he was the knight in shining armour whereas Nina gives the impression that she doesn’t need someone to help her. Do you think he likes that challenge?

Yes, it’s unexpected for him because that is not usually what would attract him to someone so when it does it is a challenge to work away at her layers and figure out who she is. When you look at them on paper you might think they may repel each other but it is actually causing an attraction. 

Does how she looks register with him or is he just seeing the person that Nina is? Is he aware and conscious of her look?

It’s fair to say that he is physically attracted to her as well and her look plays into that so of course he is aware of it but it is something that he comes to realise is not something that is superficial. Initially, he thinks her look is more of a style choice but he begins to learn that it runs deeper than that. The more he learns and the more he likes her, the more he wants to understand about her identity and this alternative culture. 

The relationship moves very quickly so talk us through this stage of his life and how he is feeling.

Having played scenes for Seb for five years, I can’t think of a time where Seb has felt happier, I have never played scenes where Seb has been on this happy, positive vibe. He is written as being really happy, comfortable and excited for the future. He has met a girl that he sees a future with and they really click in a mature way as this is his first relationship as an adult. His relationship with his mum is also repairing itself and for the first time Seb is indulging in the fact that he can be a child with her, he enjoys having her as a parent figure. Abi is marrying Kevin and Seb thinks he is alright too, he is the nicest man she has ever been with. Everything is finally settling down for him. 

Talk us through the narrative of what happens on that day.

Everything is good, it’s the stag night for the wedding and Seb is ready to party and have a good time. Seb and Nina set off to the warehouse where Seb has been working, to return Ed’s van keys after he has borrowed them. After they have dropped the keys off, Nina suggests a walk by the canal and Seb thinks, “Why not? It's an exciting night. Let’s have a walk before I go to the stag do.” They have a sweet moment together and they have so much love for each other.

On the walk they see a group of teenagers and Seb recognises a few faces, like Summer, but immediately he is not sure about the situation they have found themselves in. Nina is such a strong person so she wants them to stay and make sure that Summer and Kelly are alright with the gang. Seb is not very happy and is spooked by the whole situation but he doesn’t expect anything to go drastically wrong. The gang is trying to intimidate Nina and they are calling her names which is really upsetting for Seb. He has had a few fights in his time but he is on his own and there is a gang so he is intimidated by them. He is not looking for a fight. 

 What about the sort of language being used? The group calls Nina a ‘freak’. 

Seb just wants to leave but at the same time he understands it’s just words and he doesn’t value these kids' opinions. He has a thick skin and I don’t think Nina or Seb would let things like that affect them personally. Seb is a few years older than these kids so the names are not offending him but it is angering him and scaring him to a degree where he is trying to get Nina out of the situation. 

What research have you done on this storyline?

I have had several meetings with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation over the last few months and Sylvia has told me in detail about the events that transpired in 2007 which were absolutely horrific and it was difficult and very moving to hear that first hand account of what happened.

They discussed with me in detail the current British laws surrounding hate crime and the fact that in most instances where alternative people are subjected to violence or abuse it is failed to be categorised officially as a hate crime, which is incredibly frustrating and something that has stood out to me as an injustice. Sophie Lancaster was murdered as a product of ignorance, blind hate and prejudice. People are prejudiced towards others because of a lack of understanding, and assume that someone is something because of the way that they outwardly express themselves, but everyone should have the right to be themselves and feel safe in doing so.

What do you hope this storyline achieves?

I would like to think that it would start a conversation in people’s living rooms. Seb and Nina are attacked because of prejudice and hatred to the way Nina looks - they are two characters that the audience knows personally and sees as kind, innocent and well intentioned people, and I’m hoping this means that they will relate to the devastation that it causes for all involved. I would hope that this storyline forms a part of a greater process of educating on the importance of eradicating prejudice, and protecting everyone’s right to be who they are and feel safe.

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