Training has been great. You've made some awesome friends, done some sucky assignments, consumed too many £1 shots, broken hearts, been broken hearted and been downright broke but now the hard work starts.
The past two/three years have been a breeze but if you don't want to read the rest of this old lady ramble, always remember this one thing: stay positive.
The knock backs suck especially when you really want the role or to work with that particular team but TAKE AWAY THE GOOD BITS and move on. Realise that its never personal, the creative team are assembling a jigsaw and are just looking for the piece that fits. Be grateful you got in the room and enjoy being there. Remember it's not about working out what they want, it's about showing them what you can do and being a gracious, open person. If you're the piece that fits their puzzle, congratulations. If not that's ok because there's a puzzle out there that you will complete perfectly.
KNOW YOUR BUSINESS. Every person you meet is a contact but also a person, be polite, make conversation and keep a record in a little black book. I write down who I met, where and when, also the gist of our conversation and if it was an audition or workshop, what I sang or read and if there was any feedback. You may be able to whack out a triple, belt a B# and recite Shakespeare'd whole back catalogue but if you don't know the people who can help you progress you’ll never be truly prepared.
BE FRIENDLY. I struggled finding the right word, I came up with nice, warm, approachable but the best way to sum it up is just to be friendly. You don't want to be cocky and obnoxious and you don't want to be a wallflower, you need to be memorable but still true to yourself. Come away from a casting knowing that people see you in a positive light because if your name comes up in conversation, you want it to be for good reasons. Even to the 'competition' in audition waiting rooms or dance class dressing rooms, smile, be pleasant, share your deodorant, you never know when you may bump into them again.
And just don't forget to keep WORKING HARD. Two/three years of training is a lot, you've bettered your skills and feel ready to take on the world but that's only rung one on a very long ladder. Make time (and money) for class. It is vital to be at your best at all times and by working hard at my secondary job (and third job and those other three I do at the weekends) I've worked hard to get the money to now attend classes and workshops to keep myself in the loop or not only who's casting what but so my skills are fresh and ready for anything.
And for your mental health have time with GOOD FRIENDS. People that are gonna joke about not getting the audition you wanted, people who will buy a bottle the night before a casting and tell you you're boring for not drinking it, these are the negative nellies that will just be distraction. Know who will run your songs and lines at the drop of a hat with you, who'll listen to you stress about a failed audition, celebrate your achievements, join you for a class, send you good castings or source cheap theatre tickets. They will be the people who stop you from thinking that you can’t do it. Because well you can, they know it and they bring out the person in you that knows it too
This may all seem pretty standard knowledge. Be nice, keep trying, know what you're doing, have helpful pals, but it’s so easy to slip. There will be days when you've had enough of ignorant people, or you're living on Lidl instant noodles (not even super noodles), or you've tons of non-selections (I don’t say rejections as it comes with too many pressure inducing connotations) or no auditions at all but just remember:
We do it because we love it. We have put in the work, time to reap the rewards.
Let me start by saying congratulations, you are incredible.
Too often we have heard,
when are you gonna get a real job?
Why don't you just ask the theatres if they have roles going?
Am I gonna see you on Eastenders soon?
When are you gonna settle down?
And with a smile on your face and faith in your heart you politely reply 'not yet' and sip on your lemon green tea at the family lunch. Poised and professional.
From promo jobs, coaxing people's email addresses out of them for overpriced gym chains whilst stood in the rain, or 6am starts in London Terminals handing out money off coupons. To evenings spent pulling craft ale pints for hipsters or checking eye wateringly priced tickets for pensioners. Not forgetting those chilly mornings flyering like your life depended on it...
Well it does. And you are living strong.
There was that one day you took that crazy, brave decision to ignore that voice in your head that said a 9-5 would provide security and stability. Instead you listened to the pounding in your heart to get those feet moving towards your goals. That day changed your life.
Open calls that start at 7am and finish at 6pm with you smashing out your best 16 bars. Self tapes on iPhones whilst a mate shines a desk lamp on your face so you get good light. One day being on set for a 12 hour day full of excitement to the next day being a 12 hour day full of watching back to back Hollywood Reporter Round tables. Being told that they're going a different way, for a different look, a different sound, a different gender. Heavy pencils, Lord almighty heavy pencils!
But the joy is you have the luxury of being able to choose this life. Full of multiple 'investors' (what I call none performing jobs as they provide me the funds to invest in my future), flat sharing and finding your perfect borough (Lewisham represent!), saving coffee shop loyalty cards for those Nero fuelled life admin days, learning four scenes across 30 sides in 24 hours, finding time to attend class, check out the latest movie releases and getting day seats at the theatre. You are able to immerse yourself in all of that ever-moving, uncertain vibrancy.
You have chosen, and are living, the most liberating, creative, chaotic, rewarding life and you are doing an awesome job! You get up every morning and power through three investors across the city saving for those headshots; ploughing through umbrellas, briefcases and bemused tourist groups to get to those castings. You felt that beating in your heart telling you that you can do more, see more and be more and you followed it.
And yes we have dark days and we have moments of despair but find those superstars who bring you light and who remind you of your wonder, and you will prevail. I don't believe in a big break. I don't think that there is one moment where you think you've made it because that means you've reached the finish line and it's over. I don't ever want this to be over. I want to live and breathe in this whirlwind of colour where you can be and do anything you chose. Where you can live in the true happiness that you have made the choice to create your life, your world and your future.
So dear artists, wherever you are, be it back stage at The Savoy, hosting boxes at the O2, shaking cocktails at the latest pop up, going into class, coming out of an inspiring off-off-west end piece of theatre, in the make up chair on set or sat at home having the first moment of peace you have had in a fortnight; I just want you to know - I am immensely proud and in awe of you. For listening to that heartbeat, taking those steps and knowing this is where I am meant to be and this is exactly where I am supposed to be going.
Keep believing, keep going, you are exceptional.
All my love,