As It Happens

Felicia Dawkins made kids cry at viral Wonka-inspired experience. Now it's getting her gigs

Willy's Chocolate Experience in Glasgow may have seemed like a nightmare for those who attended, but for one actor, it’s helping her live out her dream.

Actor, 16, starred as The Unknown in the unofficial immersive event in Glasgow

A woman wearing a silver mask and a black cloak looks menacingly at the camera.
Aspiring actress Felicia Dawkins, who starred as The Unknown in an unofficial Willy Wonka themed event, performed at the London Dungeon on April 7. (The London Dungeon)

Willy's Chocolate Experience in Glasgow may have seemed like a nightmare for some attendees, but for one actor, it's helping her live out her dream. 

"I did not think it would go this big, not in a million years," Felicia Dawkins, who played The Unknown in Willy's Chocolate Experience, told As It Happens host Nil Köksal. 

"The biggest I thought it would go was maybe a couple of Facebook posts."

The unofficial event made headlines in February after videos and photos surfaced on social media of children in tears, with parents demanding refunds from the event's organizers.

The immersive experience was meant to be a land of magic and confections, but instead there was very little chocolate or candy. Far from Wonka's fantastical factory in the films, the warehouse was mostly barren, with few decorations.

The BBC reported that even the police were called in.

Dawkins, 16, who has mostly acted in school productions, wasn't surprised Willy's Chocolate Experience didn't go well. It was her first paid gig, but when she arrived at the warehouse, she knew it wasn't going to work. 

"My first thought was, this is going to end up in a disaster … The space was far too big and props were far too small, which just wasn't going to work together," she said.

But Dawkins didn't expect it to catch fire on the internet. 

The Unknown

One of the parts that left children crying was Dawkins' portrayal of The Unknown, a character donning a silver mask made up solely as a villain to Wonka for the event. The actor playing Wonka described the event's script as "AI-generated gibberish." 

"I was given no direction whatsoever. The only thing I was told was to be creepy, and I was told to improvise because we scrapped the script, like, 10 minutes before starting," said Dawkins. "So I just thought to be creepy, and that's what I did."

It worked. Children were terrified. 

"I felt so sad when I saw them start to cry. Some of the kids thought it was funny and some were just like, really confused," said Dawkins. 

As photos of The Unknown surfaced, multiple people claimed to be the creepy character. But Dawkins didn't want anyone else taking credit for her acting, and let the social media world know it was actually her. 

Now, she's no longer unknown. The performance has jump-started her career. She was invited to perform at The London Dungeon, a famous haunted house in England's capital city. There she got to play the jester, the monk and the terror warden.

"One day I was just Felicia, and then the next day I was everywhere. So it was really, really overwhelming," said Dawkins.

"But it was also super, super exciting because I was like, oh my gosh, I'm out here. People know me."


Philip Drost is a journalist with the CBC. You can reach him by email at

Interview with Felicia Dawkins produced by Leslie Amminson

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