Is it essential for a graduate to live in London in order to take advantage any work available?
This is a question I have been asking myself for the best part of a year now.
Professional jealousy baffles me. Not only must it be another torment in a career path riddled with doubts and woe but quite a time consuming ailment. My one-track 'drama school graduate' brain is like a broken record playing a never-ending barrage of "must find work, must find work." Not much else penetrates.
Whether you're on the rocky road to pursuing a career, in the early stages or even well established; envy must be deadly. Now I'm not claiming to be a completely innocent bystander in all this, it is after all only human to experience it sometimes. However, to be jealous of a friend's success is a puzzling one for me. I was witness to this heinous crime this week and it saddened me a little.
The clocks have gone back. It's all dark outside. Everyone is wrapped up warm. What better way is there of spending an Autumn Sunday afternoon than in front of the telly with some great acting, gripping story lines and displayed on the backdrop of beautiful locations... and then Britannia High came and tortured my eyes for an hour. An hour of my life which I will never get back!
First of all - an apology. I must apologise for my lack of blogging last week. I have no excuse except for my working most hours and being struck down with a horrific cold and flu like shakes, which I believe were brought on by selling perfume in the foyer of a certain department store in temperatures of what I am sure were less than -10... Oh the perils of being a resting actress.
Well, in keeping with the fact that it's the week of Halloween - I have indeed had a scary couple of weeks.
I have returned from my holiday refreshed and with a new skill of water skiing. I was considering putting it down on my CV but then realised as exciting as it sounds, it's probably not what casting directors are looking for, well unless they need the next Bond Girl to water ski up to the beach in her opening scene?? I can but hope.
On return to the UK my spirits were rejuvenated, I found a local agency who were happy to represent me and my singing teacher had heard about auditions for a new musical - things were looking up. Then I research the agency and discover they specialise in representing children and extras, which although not a disaster is not particularly ideal either. The musical I got an audition for is featured in The Stage this week but not for the reasons I had hoped...
Joanna Lumley saved me this week from a resting actor's meltdown. In fact, I've just written her a thank you letter for putting my troubled mind at ease and somehow making the bleak seem bright. I didn't have her round my flat for tea, cake and a pep talk...I went to the Theatre Royal Haymarket's 'Masterclass' and sat listening to her speak about her career for over two hours in absolute awe.
I was pleased to learn this week that the RSC is "clamping down" on reselling tickets for extortionate prices. Over the past few days I have tried, with minimal success, to get tickets for French & Saunders, Russell Brand, and I'm only slightly ashamed to admit, the Pussycat Dolls.
I realise my title sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it is a serious point I have had to consider over the past few days. I am currently exploiting my family's generosity on holiday in Turkey - yes I know I was complaining about how financial challenged I am, but this little 7 day oasis is essential for my creative well being. And when someone else is paying, it would be rude to turn the offer down, wouldn't it?!
On arrival at our destination I was confronted by the awkward meet and
greet atmosphere, and was faced with my all time hated question, 'So
what do you do?'.
On my way to Actors Expo this week I felt safe in the knowledge I was meeting a drama school friend there who had networked his way around the room after our showcase before I'd even mustered up the courage to leave the dressing rooms. I would be heading nowhere near the networking area alone, that was for sure and would have much preferred to leave a small trail of business cards on the floor behind me and get out quickly.
I thought I would take the to the stage this week and talk about the pressing subject which everyone has been dying to hear about - me! Somehow I think I am sadly mistaken but instead of talking about a broad subject, I thought I would use my own personal experience to try and get my point across - sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin!
It is very easy for industry professionals and those actors lucky enough to be in work to advise others to constantly develop new skills/hone existing skills, to observe filming processes whenever possible, add material to their portfolio, and network, network, network. But trying to do all these things while job offers are non-existent, finances are low, and anxiety is sky-high requires not just super-human will and persistence, but the ability to juggle job-hunting, your budget and your increasing sense of panic with this eternal quest for self-improvement. Working against, it seems, all other odds, keeping your desire and belief that you will eventually be a successful working actor alive is more a matter of controlling the ever-increasing worry and doubt than the will to persist.
For example, if it is proving almost impossible to quash the idea that you may never work, it becomes very difficult to spend your precious job-hunting time and rapidly decreasing funds on taking yet more classes when still you might not look right for the part, and still you look like all the other 20-something year olds on an agent's books, and still you won't have had enough work to get any work...
But if you will decide to be an actor, you must find the will and means to persist. As many of my ex-drama school tutors would say, there comes a point where I must stop "being in my head so much", "just do it", and "live in the moment". So off I went to London this weekend to try my best to repress my anxieties and "live in the moment" at the Actor Expo.
This proved to be a mixture of disappointment, followed by pleasant surprise, mixed with networking that would make any conscientious actor cringe.
Now at the beginning of the week, I began to write this blog. It was then entitled "An actor rests". It was Monday morning and I was sat alone in my flat doing what I hate doing most in the world...nothing. Nothing. I was sat there doing nothing. I guess I was resting, I was a "resting" actress after all... I felt on edge. After weeks of starting out - organising a temp job, building a relationship with my agent, auditioning, sorting out a new flat and grappling with the idea of no longer being a student, to do nothing seemed rather alien. Since calling my temp agency that morning and finding they "unfortunately had nothing for me today" I had been at a loss as to what to do. So of course I began to write this blog about how weird that was!
There were the obvious things I could have done: the laundry, vacuum or simply stay in bed. But I discovered I just couldn't chill out! Even when I knew on Tuesday I would be having new headshots taken, on Wednesday I would most likely be back at work and moreover in five weeks I would begin rehearsals for panto when I really would get no rest(!) - I still couldn't chill out!
But maybe this is a good thing. I have always believed that the secret to success in life is to be ready for any opportunity when it comes. So I tend to be busy all the time in order to be in the best possible position when I am really overrun with things to do and such an opportunity comes along. Embarassing to admit, I am a little bit like Monica from 'Friends' in that respect. However let me tell you that this week it payed off!
Had I not spent that Monday being domestic, by now I would have had a breakdown!
When the phone's not ringing and the fish aren't biting I have found myself seeking solace in the one place in which I am always guaranteed work...my imagination. So much so in fact, that after last week's blog of financial misery, a rather fortunate series of events became the catalyst for my over active imagination to genuinely wonder if my luck was changing...
There are so many up ups and downs within this wonderful, magical world we all love (said with gritted teeth). People are always asking whether these ups and downs are needed, whether it be the emotional ups and downs, the financial ups and downs or the ups and downs certain directors, producers and industry professionals would like you to partake in which will ultimately lead to them saying "I'll make you a star kid", said in a 1920s New York accent! But there is one topic of ups and downs which preys upon a recent graduates mind...
Honesty is the best policy.
Honesty is just about nearly always the best policy.
Honesty is just about nearly always the best policy minus those little white lies that keep everyone happy.
Honesty is just about nearly always the best policy minus those little white lies that keep everyone happy and the lies you tell about your career aspirations for fear of your potential office boss finding out you're an unreliable actor, and then the lies you tell when you're actually on the job you took to pay rent that you're supposed to be qualified to do, not to mention the lies on your CV (and I mean 'regular' and 'actor' CV here).
I am writing my blog this week from my friend's house in Liverpool, not because I want to be in Hollyoaks that badly I'm camping outside Dorothy Andrew's door, but because I am attending a second recall for a fringe/profit share production.
The producers seem lovely and very approachable, but also slightly
disorganised and cagey about the essential details i.e. the venue and
exact performance dates.
Well, a lots happened since the first post folks. Thanks to the little buggers who robbed The Stage offices of their computer equipment, there seems to be a little black hole in my timeframe, which I shall now try and fill in for you!!!
I imagined myself writing for the Grads' Club reclining in a romantically lit and arty apartment, furrowing my brow in an angst ridden manner. To be honest, I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw. Instead, I find myself in front of a laptop heavier than the desk it's sat on, in a flat with no central heating, surrounded by piles of crumpled (returned) headshots and an increasing sense of desperation.
This is not only about the state of my 'career' at present but the prospect of soup again for tea. What's a girl to do when she has been spending half of her weekly food budget on stamps, envelopes and yet more headshots? I have even been forced to steal someone's wireless connection upstairs to write this.
I'll give you the good news first, since I am so excited about it and also since a blog beginning with a discussion of either tax or temping is likely to turn you off immediately!
I last left you as I merely dreamt of my first job as a professional actress...
Well, as my title suggests I have had my first 'triumph' and am delighted to say I now officially have my first job lined up! Hurray!
I guess one of the things which I have discovered since leaving the warm comfort of drama school is that the acting world is kind not what I thought it was going to be.
It was if I woke up on Christmas morning seeing my mum putting the presents under the tree and my dad unwillingly eating half a carrot, and then soon realising good old Saint Nick wasn't real.
One of the things which has stood out more than most is the golden temple that is also known as musicals on the west end. I have spent the past 6 months getting ever closer to a part in a new West End show. So obviously the excitement has kicked in by the prospect of possibly being in a great new West End show...but then...I have experienced or at least seen the darker side of musical theatre.