2016 has been wonderfully life changing in so many ways and we haven't even hit Chrismas season yet. These past couple of months the foot has been firmly on the pedal so when I had a little bit of dollar come through I booked a nice mini break for myself to Barcelona. Then my favourite little gremlin and housemate Tyler booked as well to keep my company. I needed those 4 days more than I realised. They let me breathe in what had just come before and prepare for what is on its way.
This year my interest in mindfulness, spirituality and gratitude has grown and developed into a lifestyle choice. One friend sat in my living at 2am with me and told me she admirrs my determination but sometimea I need to live. She was right. I am so passionate about the life I want to build that sometimes I realise I should step back and look at what I have already achieved.
Laid in the hairdressers sink a few weeks ago,she asked me what I did for work, I said I'm an actress and she proceed to ask me what I had coming up and what I had been in. At that point I thought I had 'nothing coming up', auditions were quiet and I was feeling a little deflated but when I started to list what I had achieved she said 'Wow thats a lot to have done in only starting you career last year. There are others who wait years for one good job. You're doing great!' This wonderful person, whom I'd never met before, whilst lathering up my lions mane put it all into perspective. That gosh darnit, I am a living an incredible life working towards incredible things because I have been honoured with incredible opportunities.
Sometimes I do get carried away though. Both when I feel like nothing is going on and too much is going on! And thats when I get overwhelmed and my crew step in to level me out. I plan and create and invision this life and then once in a while one of the squad gives me a nudge and says
'Hey, will you live in it for a second'.
So there we were in Barcelona, pelting down with rain, not only had I got us lost on the way to the toir bus stop in thw morning I then lost the tour bus ticket when we got off for lunch. Tyler put out hia arm and we walked through the streets not a clue where we were going our what lay ahead of us. And in the moment for the first time in months of joy I felt peace. Until the taxi I was hailing stopped for a couple of old guys down the road. We drank prosecco sangria and danced on a rooftop in our swimwear. We spoke about who we were when we met 5 years ago to who we are now, taking on the world with each other for back up.
After a couple of days of everythings gonna be great bliss, a late night call from my mum informed me that my nan had a bad fall and needed life changing surgery. My nan is a hilarious, strong woman who even when she was about to have her badly broken leg removed was flirting and joking with the surgical team. It did however put things firmly into perspective. I rambled out all the things to her that I wanted her to know because she has helped get me there but I knew she wasn't going anywhere and that she'd be celebrating more great things with me. 24 hours later she was sat up in a chair, a little buzzed but strong and hilarious as ever.
Life can seem overwhelming sometimes. It can feel like its outrunning you like Usain Bolt at a World Championship. Even with a fantastic unit of people who feel and support your passion there a moments that come out of nowhere and knock you off track but not off focus. You've just got take the time to refocus once in a while. Here I am now, on a train home to see some of my friends and family that I don't get to see too often. Who sometimes when I get too busy, when I get lost, I don't always check in with so now I'm taking the time to reconnect. To live.
I need to catch up on sleep so just a little post with lots of pictures this time. So much has gone on over the past fortnight that all I can really say is:
I have had the support, love and encouragement from some incredibly inspiring people as I have plowed though 17 consecutive 10-14 hour days.
I have filmed a two week commercial shoot with one of my longest, funniest pals by my side
Had my photography featured in a tech magazine (yep, I didn't see that coming either- the power of the #selfie eh?)
Stayed up past 6am. Twice.
Had the Renault campaign I modelled for be advertised in Stylist magazine
Been featured in a Wrangler and Kimbra music video/commercial collaboration
Had my writing debut at Siberian Lights + Blue Ash's Lets Talk About Sex, Baby jukebox night and performed my piece Never in a line up of some insanely impressive actors and writers
Had a man jump out of a wardrobe at me on an ITV Commercial
Rehearsed two of my own pieces for a new all female comedy night
Played in the fountains at 11 o'clock at night near Kings Cross
Met some insanely cool people who I'm looking forward to spending more time with
Started managing a jungle themed cinema
Attended a couple of brilliant castings
And eaten lots of brisket topped nachos
My life is inexplicably wonderful. Even when amongst all the fantastic fun stuff I had my first panic attack in over 2 years. I had to be rescued from Waterloo by one of my #PPHQ squad who came in a heartbeat. Sometimes it all just gets a bit overwhelming but having the time to breathe is necessary. Even if you're forced into it. Taking a step back and enjoying the madness is vital to appreciating it.
So yes I am thankful for so very many things. For the abundance of photos and videos of my niece and nephews that now have taken over my phone gallery, the throbbing pain in my feet, the 6am wake ups, for Iceland £2 fry in 8 minute meals, the wanted posters and I miss you texts from friends. I am elated with the madness of this life I lead and I thank you all, even if you are just a passing reader of this blog, thank you for being part of it all.
Sometimes people misinterpret what I mean when I say I'm a Positive Living Enthusiast. The general assumption is that a run around all today trying to convince people that the world is sunshine and rainbows and that we should all sing in a daisy field holding hands (even though I would love that). Trust me, I tantrum, I cry, I argue, I fret but my positivity comes from my faith in the future and my love and what is happening right now.
If ya'll wanna know about my past feel free to read my previous post because, like all of us, I've had my seriously dark days. However the joy is that I know they are over. I can't change them or erase them they have been done. I now also chose not to spend time analysing the gone days to work out how they have made me a better me - I just am a better me, right now and that's what's important!
I chose to see the joy in things. When I can. I threw a literal tantrum (20 minutes of me lying upside down on my bed snapping at my housemate) because I couldn't find my keys. He found them for me. That was my joy, that he took the time to help this whiny brat and I ensured I thanked him for doing what he could to enhance my life - because I'm a forgetful mess. Yes I like to be positive but I am also human and stuff doesn't always go the way I hope but that doesn't mean it's the end of the world. It's just a redirection.
If I have a 6am call time 2 hours away from my house know that I will be there at 5:45 chipper as a squirrel (new favourite phrase) because I am living the life I have chosen; the life I love. I don't mope that is so far away, or so hard to get to, I plan my route, I go to bed early and I enjoy the experience. Too many people seem to like finding the negatives, the problems rather than seeing the new challenges and experiences that will help us grow!
I'm not gonna come up to and tell you to turn that frown upside down if you're having a bad day. I'm going to let you know that there is someone there who will listen to you and if I can I will help be that physically or just reminding you that your are stronger enough, smart enough and brave enough to face whatever it is yourself.
Being positive isn't about being happy-clappy all the time (that's just a side effect) it's about having hope for the future and having faith in whatever you are doing right now is necessary in leading you to the life you want. So every now and then I will mope when I burn my favourite shirt ironing but I have a wardrobe full of clothes- it's not like I now have to run around topless!
But I'm the grand scheme of things I see and feel joy every day because I chose the path I lead every day. So when I say I write a positive living blog and I get those sideways 'oh so you get high and tell everyone how much you love them' look know this - I have never consumer a recreational drug in my life and I don't love everyone, some people are vile and mean. But the people who I choose to surround myself with and the daily choices I make, make me happy. It is our choices that lead us to a positive, free life so choose wisely.
Do you ever catch yourself talking to yourself? I do it all the time. Often out loud. What so you say? It's all about the language we use that can simply change our mindset. And I don't just mean chat and banter, I also mean the little voices we have inside our heads. Yes we all have them, it doesn't make us crazy, it makes us human. When we have the internal battle of whether or not we should have that brownie, buy those shoes, or make that life leap - those inner voices pip right up. But how often do you truly listen to what they are saying?
I banned 3 F words in my life over the past couple of years - 2 have been easy to banish, one not so much. I try to no longer use the words Fat, Failure or Frustration.
I used to get called fat on the regular - so much so that I was called the DUFF (Designated Ugly FAT Friend). The thought that being fat made me less desirable and worthy so I would be sent out to go fishing for my 'pretty friends'. I now realise that just made them ugly on the inside. What a load of b****cks! Yep I still got fat on my body but I also have hair, freckles, scars - doesn't mean I AM them just that they happen to be there at the moment. So I no longer call myself or anyone fat and if any of my friends call themselves it too they get this lecture.
Failure, to me, is a ridiculous word with a whole bunch of negative connotations. To me there is no such thing as failure/I don't conform with what society says failure is. To me there are only lessons, opportunities and redirections. So you didn't get the promotion you wanted, you didn't pass that exam, you didn't get chosen for the team. So what? That opens the door for something else to ignite your passions. Yeah it sucks, sometimes it hurts, sometimes you feel it was the last option. There is never a last option. We always have the gift of choice - 'failure' just reminds you to choose another way - one that may be more rewarding or suited to you.
Frustration however, that's the tricky one I can't shake. Cool things happen to me everyday because I wake up telling myself that
. Seriously - I say to myself 'let's see what adventures we can get up to today' and I go for it. But I'm impatient. And I can be self judgemental. Sometimes I try and pass the buck and say I don't have the roles I want because no casting director/director/studio will take the risk to cast 'someone like me' - I get frustrated. Then I tell myself 'hush ya nee - go and find the ones that will take the risk. You know you can do it, so do it.' But that's pretty scary and I'm not completely FEARLESS. Yet. So the frustration word keeps ebbing away, it's just taking its time.
Learn to refocus your language; rather than thinking 'I don't want to do that' thinking about what you do want and say 'I love doing this!' It makes all the difference. Rather than thinking 'I don't want to stand in this open call queue for 4 hours' tirn it into 'I love taking my time meeting new people and making new connections'.
What words do you use that you probably shouldn't? That put a downer on your day? Whatever they are write them on a piece of paper - then scratch them out. Feel the satisfaction of removing them from your life. It's not going to be easy but it's going to worthwhile. Talk to yourself how you would talk to your best friend, big yourself up, support yourself, keep the good words flowing and see what difference it makes to your day - just have FUN!
I have made a very conscious effort to surround myself with incredible people. No nasty selection process or ratings going on just a matter of matching vibes and then when those great vibes do match, making sure those awesome people hang around.
At school I wasn't the most popular kid. Being honest I was a bit of an oddball. Tall, big, loud, brainy, singing and dancing through the corridors - people seemed to like me but not understand me. I spent my years up into my early twentys trying to work out how to fit the mainstream. I moved to different places seeing if a change of scene meant that I would find 'my place'. Little did I know my place wasn't a location it was wherever I was, as long as I was with the people who mattered to me and who I mattered to.
Having moved to a big city and started to pursue my dream career I often get asked 'do you still speak to anyone from school/college?' And I don't. Not because they're not lovely people - they are just not my people. My people come from an array of wonderful places and moments. My people are incredible.
They seem like ordinary people but I have come to realise they are extraordinary. Teachers, waiters, fundraisers, managers, parents, business owners, performers, bar crew. They wake every morning and treat everyone whose path they cross with love and they spread joy. They work hard for what they want and for who they love and they are always there when you need them. They came into my life when I needed them to arrive - dance classes, investors, shows, events, auditions - not just in traditional places like school or the office. Because let's be honest when have I ever been traditional?
I've had my eye on the Olympics and watched people, who others may have once discounted, do incredible things. They said they wanted to achieve something and the people around them said 'OK let's go, you got this'. But we all have those people and we all can be those people. We all have our squads cheering us on, picking us up when we fall over hurdles, letting us know we are only a metre away from gold. And when we reach it they are there to celebrate with.
So it's not just The Avengers or Justice League who can save the day - it's the people who you call friends. Each with their own special power that when you unite, you can take on the world.
"To fly free as the butterfly you have to spend some time in the darkness of the cocoon."
I haven't written for two months. During June I was spiralling, the naughty doubt demons were knocking on my door but during July I was staring my climb again - stronger and more determined than ever.
For a month, flickerings of 'what are you actually doing?' were echoing in my mind. Friends (and nosey people) were asking so many questions of me - 'what's the next job?' 'Why don't you have a boyfriend?' 'Have you thought about settling down yet?' 'Have you thought about going home?'
I have come to realise I am home. This city, this house, this team of friends, they are what make my heart sing and remind me that I am exactly where I should be. Doing what I love with those I love.
So know this - others questions don't matter. All that matters is the one question you ask yourself,
Am I closer today to my purpose than I was yesterday?
If the answer is yes then you are successful. You are courageous and incredible. And you must keep going. Don't worry about those that don't understand, they don't need to.!ll
And if it's no, is it OK with you if it's no? Are you happy where you are in your life? If so then enjoy your bliss as then no questions matter at all and you are truly where you should be.
Doubts will always rear their head, and shadows will cast themselves across bright days but live in the moments of spectacle,
breathe in every thing that makes your soul happy and the doubts will drift away. Make sure to surround yourself with those who think and feel the same as well because with them you are stronger together. Know that you have your own special path and whether you are walking, running, skipping, gliding along it, it is your path to travel - but you don't have to travel alone.
So whilst waiting in that darkness of the cocoon use that time to grow wings beautiful and strong enough to help you soar. Because the time will come when you see the light again and it will be your time to fly in the sunrays.
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,
We are actors, dancers, singers, aerialist, directors, creatives with passion. We are not born to be behind a desk, to join the 9 to 5 commuter crew. We are however also law abiding citizens and need to pay bills and taxes. That's one thing we can't create our way out of... legally.
So we find a job to pay the bills. Or loads of jobs in my case.
My family think I'm crazy for not having a consistent, stable income. But I always have an income. No matter what, I pay my bills, buy my food, swipe for my travel, go to the theatre and take class from the money I have accumulated over time. Since moving to London I haven't been unemployed for anything more than two weeks and am never just doing one job. And I love it that way!
It seems chaotic - lord knows it could be but I have three diaries. That's right three! One on my phone, that links with a separate one on my laptop and in my hand written diary. Yes we want to create masterpieces with wanton abandon but we also want to hone our skills in pricey but worthwhile classes. Being organised is essential to take on the world.
Fail to prepare?
Prepare to fail.
In the past two months alone I have worked for FOUR different companies in four very, VERY different places, all who pay different rates and at different times. I never expect anything. I just arrive early, do my job well, behave myself (mostly) and move onto the next. That being said I have been lucky enough to have been called back to different companies some offering promotions and even some making fantastic friends.
Aside from being paid the other benefit of having a plethora of jobs is the people you meet. My friend says he doesn't network, he makes friends which I think is a great way to approach not only this industry but just life in general. Be pleasant to everyone you come across because you never know who they might be. Don't think how could this benefit me just do your best in that moment and life will do the rest. I've been asked to recommend friends for work and have had others recommend me all because our hardworking, happy reputations proceed us.
But yes, the main benefit is that dollar dollar so just be sensible. Find the tricks, use loyalty cards at coffee shops, find the more cost effective times and routes to travel, go to Itsu in its last half hour and stock up on 1/2 price sushi because that money that you work hard for needs to work hard for you. Invest in yourself. Its all well and good to do all these jobs to a high standard but then spending all your money on pornstar martinis and holidays to Tenerife kind of defeats the point. Whatever pay I get be it a £50 cash in hand job or a healthy monthly wage 20% is automatically saved. Obviously then rent, bills and travel consumes the majority of the remainder but then I can use the rest for workshops, plays, scripts and a bit of tomfoolery with friends.
You can decide to either detest the instability or embrace the flexibility or it all. If you're happy in flexi jobs then when auditions come around you don't see it as a welcome escape, or your underprepared because you got in from serving canapés at the Emirates at 3am, or are because your grumpy that this is your first audition in two months. Enjoy that you are one of the lucky few creating your life. Because that's who we are, actorss, singers, directors, writers, dancers - creators.