Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream Contestant Zachkiel Smith on His Passion for Performance and Working With Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management


Zachkiel Smith only completed his musical theatre degree a few months ago, but the young performer is already set for stardom. Zachkiel is currently appearing on our screens in Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream, a brand-new reality series on ITV.

Here, Zachkiel shares his performance background and advice for aspiring actors. He also discusses becoming a client of Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management — “I’m really, really happy” — and shining bright in Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream.

Zachkiel’s Performance Background

Zachkiel has always wanted to be a performer. Early on, he had aspirations to be a musician, playing the guitar, piano, violin, and cello from a young age. His musical talent led him to take part in several live shows, including a gig for Soul II Soul in South Bank.

The gig helped Zachkiel realise where his passion truly lay. He told his parents: “I’d rather be the performer than the musician.”

Zachkiel started taking acting classes at around seven or eight years old. He received a distinction in a LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) exam and his acting teacher encouraged him to pursue the craft.

But Zachkiel really knew he wanted to be a performer when he took part in a musical theatre summer school in 2012. Alumni of the summer school who had secured roles on the West End returned to take part in a show with the students. “I totally knew,” he says, “this is my profession.

Inspired by these West End performers, Zachkiel spent four years studying musical theatre at the BRIT School, a performing and creative arts school in Croydon. He then went on to study for a bachelor’s degree in professional musical theatre at Emil Dale Academy in Hertfordshire.

Signing With Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management

Zachkiel completed his three-year degree in Summer 2023. In the same month, he signed with his first talent agency: Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management.

“I love everything about [working with BBA Management],” Zachkiel enthuses. “It’s literally what I wanted from an agent.”

BBA Management discovered Zachkiel at Emil Dale Acadamy agent panel day in London, where they showcased all third-year students. After seeing Zachkiel perform, Bronia Buchanan’s agency invited him to an interview. “It was one of the best interviews that I’d had,” Zachkiel says. He felt that BBA could offer him what he wanted from an agent, especially open communication.

“Honestly, I feel like the communication [with BBA Management] is so effortless. I never feel like I’m out of the loop,” Zachkiel says. He describes BBA’s agents as “amazing,” noting that Bronia Buchanan’s team “always makes time for [him].”

BBA Management has also helped Zachkiel secure important professional opportunities: “They’ve put me in the rooms that I want to be in, in front of everyone that I’d want to meet … it’s been really cool.”

The Audition Process and Getting Into Character

When it comes to auditions, BBA Management ensures Zachkiel feels heard and supported. If there’s a role he’s not fully gelling with, Bronia Buchanan’s team helps him prioritise the parts he’d rather audition for: “It’s been great in that sense.”

Earlier this year, BBA Management was helping Zachkiel manage as many as three auditions each week.

He explains that the audition process is different for every role. Some casting teams will ask to see tapes of the performer before inviting them for an in-person audition. Others will invite performers in immediately to judge their acting or singing ability, then decide if they want to see more material.

Zachkiel loves the more in-depth audition experiences. These might involve working through several scenes and songs with directors or other members of a production. In particular, he enjoys the collaborative aspect of these auditions, which allows him to find new interpretations: “I love to play with scenes.”

Versatility and creativity come naturally to Zachkiel: “I know what certain people want to see and that [ability] can be used universally in different scripts and performances.”

Zachkiel’s process for getting into character starts with the role’s background information. Various details can inform his approach to a role, such as the time era the character lives in. “I feel like some people underestimate how big that first basic amount of info is,” Zachkiel says.

“From there, I can start making my own interpretation,” he continues. “I get into the script and then I can start playing with it. My normal aim is to know a script inside out.”

Developing His Comedy and Dancing Skills

Earlier this year, Zachkiel played Sammy in a production of The Wedding Singer at the Factory Playhouse in Hitchin. He had “the biggest fun” playing this “comedic type of character.” Zachkiel particularly enjoyed the audience’s reactions to his performance: “I got so many laughs throughout that show.”

Aside from nailing the comedic timing, Zachkiel also developed his dancing skills for The Wedding Singer. Choreographer Matt Ives (who also trained Zachkiel during his degree at Emil Dale Academy) helped him take his dancing “to a higher level.”

Zachkiel’s Dream Role

If there’s one character Zachkiel would love to play, it’s Benny from In The Heights. “The music of In The Heights is just the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard,” Zachkiel says. “It moves my heart.”

Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights is a vibrant musical about young love. Set in Manhattan, the musical combines Latin rhythms with soul, hip-hop, pop, and R&B.

“I feel like the show is just so, so beautiful,” Zachkiel adds. “I would love to be able to be part of that.”

Super Trouper: Zachkiel on Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream

Zachkiel is currently starring in a new reality series on ITV: Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream. Hosted by Zoe Ball, the competition sees 14 hopefuls battling for the roles of Sophie and Sky in the West End production of Mamma Mia!

This is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for Zachkiel. The show takes place in Corfu, and the judging panel includes comedian Alan Carr, singer Jessie Ware, Olivier Award-winner Amber Riley, and stage and screen actress Samantha Barks. For Zachkiel, having musical theatre icons like Riley and Barks as judges is especially inspiring.

Barks reached the final of a similar competition called I’d Do Anything, which aired on BBC One in 2008. She’s now a successful West End performer who has played major roles like Elsa in the Frozen musical. Jenna Lee-James, another client of Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management, recently stepped into the role while Barks is on maternity leave.

“Samantha Barks has literally been in our position,” Zachkiel says. “She was one of us. That’s crazy to even think. And you can see how her career has gone.”

The competition will challenge the contestants’ acting, dancing, and singing abilities with a variety of numbers from different musicals, including Mamma Mia! Zachkiel explains that the “coolest part” of being in the show is the creative freedom the contestants have to make the performances their own.

There are eight episodes of Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream. The first episode aired on 22 October 2023. The competition concludes before Christmas in a grand final which ITV will broadcast live from a West End theatre.

Advice For Aspiring Performers

Zachkiel is a star on the rise, but it’s taken time and effort to get where he is today. “I’ve trained for seven years and [have done] musical theatre for even longer,” he emphasises.

Now, all that hard work is paying off. That’s why Zachkiel’s advice for fellow young performers is to “work hard and believe in your dream.”

“It sounds so cliché, but you just work hard,” he insists. “If you’ve got a dream, just chase it.”

About Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management

BBA Management is a London-based talent agency that represents outstanding actors and creative professionals in television, theatre, commercials, and film. Led by founder Bronia Buchanan, the agency offers comprehensive personal management services.

BBA Management provides support and guidance for all aspects of its clients’ careers through a team of experienced agents. The agency’s client list includes Ryan Moloney (Neighbours), Priyasasha Kumari (Waterloo Road), Riley Jones (Vera), Jenna Lee-James (Frozen the Musical), and Joaquin Pedro Valdes (Death Note: The Musical).

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