He may not be a household name just yet, but Chris Farfouris is on the verge of breaking into the film and TV industry after landing two major roles.

Not only has Chris successfully auditioned for a key character role in a new television drama set in Spain, but he has also landed the lead role in a new film, Shakespeare has Died, that will be filmed on location in South America.

Despite temporarily having to hold off filming his scenes on both productions until later in the year, the 20-year-old is still delighted and overwhelmed after being cast for both parts. And he credits part of his success to the skills he has been refining during his Screen Performance degree at the University of Sunderland for the last three years.

“To be honest I’m still in shock that I landed both parts in such a short space of time, it’s like a dream come true,” explained Chris, who has been acting on stage since he was just five years old in his native Greece.

“You almost have to build yourself up for rejection and be resilient as there is so much competition for these parts.”

Chris landed the role on the second day of a holiday he’d taken to Madrid last year.

He says: “Although I had started filming on the television production for an online streaming platform, we had to temporarily stop due to coronavirus. All I can say about the plot is I play one of five main characters who all have difficulties and live in a special centre together. It is my first television role, and I am living the dream, getting up every morning and going to a studio with 200 people all waiting for you, was strange but I soon got used to it. I am even working with some familiar actors from other TV series, which is great, and I’m certainly learning a lot as one of the more inexperienced members of the cast.”

Chris, also says that thanks to his tutors at Sunderland, he was able to complete all his course work online while filming in Spain, as well as during the first national lockdown, when he returned home to Greece for several months.

“My tutors have been incredibly supportive during this huge opportunity, and for me, online learning has been fantastic, I was able to be really creative,” he said.

The silver screen success has continued for Chris, after a successful online audition for the lead role in a new film in South America, which will begin production later this year. Shakespeare has Died is based on a stage play “Paper Students”, and tells the story a mediocre professor of drama theory and frustrated actor, who finds himself becoming Shakespeare while he examines the stage proposal of four students who have created an improvisation of the characters of Hamlet, Lear and Othello.

Dr Adelle Hulsmeier, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts and Programme Leader for Screen Performance, said: “I have been really impressed with how much Chris has developed.

“Impressive too has been his ability to apply professional practice to seek out opportunities outside of the University, seeing him create a relevant and impressive CV before graduation. Chris is absolutely commended for his ability to do this during a global pandemic; demonstrating tenacity and commitment to his ambitions.”

Chris is a multilingual actor and performing artist, speaking Greek, English, Spanish, French and Italian, he sings, plays piano and has been part of three short films filmed, pantomime, variety show and two classical theatrical plays all in the UK.

He draws his acting inspiration from the Meisner technique, developed by the American theatre practitioner Sanford Meisner, where an actor is encouraged to “get out of their head”, behaving instinctively to the surrounding environment. It is followed by one of his favourite actors, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris’s other acting influences include Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston.

His future goals are to continue acting and he hopes to produce his own work eventually. He also believes that while Covid-19 is having an impact overall on the acting industry, especially live theatre, television productions continue to grow as more of us tune in to paid-for streaming services.

Asked why he chose to study at Sunderland, Chris said: “A friend was studying here for a year before me, and told me about the courses I might be interested in. The Screen Performance degree was perfect, being surrounded in equipment and installations relevant to industry I wanted to work in. I’ve really enjoyed my time and the tutors have been incredibly supportive.”

And what advice does he have for students starting their own university journey?

“Study something relevant that you’re sure about. The University will give you all the tools but it’s your responsibility in how you’re going to use them and create opportunities for yourself!”