Here is is, Part 2, of Katie’s excellent guest article. Missed Part 1? Here it is!
After Mondays outpouring of grief (sorry, support) from lush people of the acting world and beyond – here are life lessons 6 – 10. As lived by me. All stories are very much truth. I would like to dedicate this section to the good people of natwest bank for sticking by me and my dream since the beginning and for never, ever threatening to take my overdraft away.
Thank you all so much for reading ❤️
6. You Will Be Poor
Oh my God you will be poor. The minus sign in front of your account will become a long forgotten irrelevance as you bed down for a long term stay in available balance land. You will be so scared. You will manage tell yourself you are doing o.k at 12.01pm and then at 12.02pm you will realise that rent is due next Monday and it’s everything you have. You will feel like the actual worst person in the world when you phone your Gramma and sob when she offers you another £50 of her retirement money because your shoes aren’t waterproof anymore. You will sadly watch as your home friends who were as broke and useless as you during the uni days – slowly sail away into functioning adulthood with their useful degrees in useful things getting them useful jobs which pay for useful stuff like houses, a dog, a family, a week in Sharm-El-Sheik, a kitchen aid.
The only consolation I can offer here is that most of us are in the same boat, or at least have been at some point, and that somebody somewhere is always having a wardrobe clear out or cooking a lasagne. Make sure you are always, always around when this happens.
7. Get A Job You Like
This is what we want – a job that doesn’t make us want to die inside when our alarm goes off on a Monday morning, that pays for our rent and the occasional gin, but most importantly one that we can drop at a minutes notice for an audition or a year long acting job, only to come back to it the Monday after we finish, without any consequences or losing any money. Not much to ask is it ?
I honestly think that finding that “In Between thing” was one of the hardest and most important bits of making this whole thing work over the last 5 years. When I moved to London my flatmates and I bought one suit between us and hit the temping agencies. I got through four rounds of auditions (yes, auditions) to be a temp in Harrods. I was told at the last round that I had been successful and would start the next day, only to receive a phone call at 9pm that night saying they had discovered some unnatural highlights in my hair (home dye – see number 6) and that this was simply “against everything Harrods stood for.” I was promptly demoted to John Lewis where I worked for one shift getting a migraine under the strobe lighting – and whilst giving someone a “skin care makeover” I accidentally mistook a nail varnish remover pad for a black head pad and told the customer it was “supposed to burn.” This was not my gig.
Eventually I found my little niche as a teaching assistant, mostly with children with special needs. I love it. I don’t love it as much as acting because if I did I would totally sign the contract to rinse that maternity pay and pension stuff, but it works for me. I know the world doesn’t end with my acting contract. I can get up in the morning, go to sleep at night and feel like I have added something to the world.
Find your thing, stick with it. But when leaving for an acting job, at all costs do resist the urge to scream “I’VE HIT THE BIG TIME ! SCREW YOU AND YOUR EARLY LUNCHES ELAINE !!!” – I sincerely hope that you never have to go back, but you may, and Elaine will enjoy your return a lot less if you maintain a dignified silence.
8. We should all put 50p in the swear jar every time we ask another actor “Are you working at the minute ?”
Projectile word vomit that’s what it is. We all know it’s awful, we all fucking hate being on the other side of it, we’ve all said it, we all felt like a massive Billy Bellend after we had. If you have ever sat in an Uber and despite promising yourself not to resort to benile, cliched taxi chat, suddenly blurted out “BEEN BUSY ? WHAT TIME ARE YOU ON TILL ?” into the awkward silence – it’s the same thing as that.
As actors we have to make a lot of conversations with other actors, with whom the only thing we know for sure we have in common is acting. We are also genuinely interested in acting. So obviously when in the theatre bar, an audition, a birthday, a sunday roast, a random bump-in on the street – there is a very enticing and obvious conversation starter. Just try to have another question as back up. If somebody is about to be the next James Bond, if it is important to them they will tell you. At which point lock on with both hands, promise you’ll come see it and congratulate them on their glorious achievements. It is better than watching somebody awkwardly fight their way around something that could be making them feel a little bit sad because you couldn’t think of anything else to say.
However if you are on the other side of this question and you are not working, I have recently discovered there is great liberty in saying “Nothing. Absolutley nothing.” Any actor who is not an arsehole will proceed to commiserate with you on what a fickle fucker this industry can be, then the conversation will move on, leaving you free to talk about literally ANYTHING ELSE, whilst celebrating all the other brilliant things about your glorious self. It’s quite nice actually.
9. Have Friends That Aren’t Actors. Talk About Things That Aren’t Acting.
*MOST IMPORTANT ONE KLAXON !*
Oh my Goooooood if you do nothing else, no matter where you are with all of this acting shit, do this. My friends from Bridgend bloody loved it when I was on the T.V. They screen grabbed all most every scene I was in, sending them around our what’s app group at lightning speed using many an excited-face emoji to show how proud they were. But they also couldn’t give a flying fuck if I’m working in the national or working as a temp. I bloody love them for that. They are much more interested in discussing upcoming weddings, important life events and mega lol-z at people we used to go to school with on Facebook. We all whinge about our jobs to each other and none of us has a clue what the other is talking about because everything we do is totally separate and different. It is so, so great.
I’m not saying don’t be friends with actors, most of us wouldn’t have many friends left. Also there is definitely a place for celebrating/venting about an audition/job with somebody who absolutely understands what you are going through. Just try not to do it all the time. This job takes enough of our energy when we are doing it or trying to, you’ll go absolutely mad if it takes over your social life too. If stuck for other conversation – type in “Funny Cat Videos” into youtube, sit and laugh with a friend for an hour. You can thank me for that one later.
10. And What It All Comes Down To My Friends, Is That Everything’s Gonna Be Quite Alright
7am. Rainy Monday. 2011. Bus Stop on Holloway Road. No Umbrella. Just Accidentally Checked My Bank Balance (Natwest App too close to Twitter – shittywankbuggerballs) Late For Work. Crying.
Abesentmindedly press shuffle on my iPhone whilst trying to focus on my own misery. A long forgotten voice from my childhood, downloaded in a wine induced nostalgic karaoke session with the girls – makes a bid for my attention
“I’m Broke But I’m Happy. I’m Poor But I’m Kind. I’m Short But I’m Healthy – YEAH !”
“Not now Alanis” I hiss, “I am trying to be miserable” But before I can get my finger to the shuffle button and find The Smiths, she continues;
“I’m High But I’m Grounded, I’m Sane But I’m Overwhelmed, I’m Lost But I’m Hopeful – BABY !”
“SO AM I ALANIS ! I AM SO LOST !” I scream, a dog stares concernedly.
“And What It All Comes Down Too, Is That Everthing’s Gonna Be Fine … Fine … Fine”
That song got me through a sad day, and many since. But you might very well rather mince your own tits that listen to Alanis Morrisette. All I’m saying is – find your thing that makes you feel like everything is going to be alright in the 20 minutes of panic when you feel it very much isn’t going to be. Just don’t let it be something that makes you feel even worse the next day (Yes, I can see you for what you are Jaegerbomb.) A cup of tea, phoning my Gramma, making a really crap victoria sponge and getting a text from my flatmate 3 hours later saying “There’s. Literally. Sugar. Everywhere”, blowing the dust of my guitar and playing Greenday badly, these are all small bits of sanity I have grabbed onto over the last 5 years. Just something to keep your hands and your brain busy, to keep your feet on the floor, to remind you your still here. Then all of a sudden, I promise, it will feel ok again.
And if when your agent calls with an audition you forget all about the sponge cake and burn it, if you still get butterflies in your tummy, if before you have even finished reading the script properly you are already googling “Best Digs In Hull” – Keep on plugging your A-Game you fucking trouper.
You’re on the right path.
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