I avoided drama school at eighteen to pursue the route of a middle of the road arts degree that I would eventually convert to law; make the parents proud and maybe make a ton of money; you know, the usual fools errand of a reasonably smart individual who has no idea what to do with his life…
I have never been good at finding digs. The first time I went on tour I often shared with one of my cast mates who was much more organised and worldly than I was. One night we turned up in what soon became clear was a room in a violent pub in the Badlands of Salford. As the wind howled outside and drunken customers shouted in the corridors we kept a watchful eye on our bedroom door like prime candidates for victims in a horror film.
I remember plucking up the courage to phone a couple of drama schools when I was thirty-six. Both told me over the phone that I was too old. So I let it go. Then, in my forties, I became an extra, thinking it might be a way into acting. It certainly isn’t, but I learned a lot and had some great experiences. I was in my fifties when I got accepted on a two year full-time training at drama school.
“We think you should look in to pursuing a career as a puppet therapist”.
My response was a snigger, I had just spent the last 15 minutes telling my secondary school careers advisor how acting was everything I had ever wanted to do and she tells me that puppet therapy would be a more sensible career path. I knew that getting in to acting would be hard, I’ve always known that- I’ve always been prepared for that. I’ve always known who I was and who I wanted to be. I was the girl who got the top grades, the best parts; I work bloody hard- I deserve to do well! But now? After too many unsuccessful drama school auditions I’m beginning to doubt myself.
I was warned against being an understudy by a tutor at drama school. Apparently it’s a bad idea and it doesn’t look particularly good on your CV. But as I sat there, agentless, with a vast expanse of free time before me, it occurred to me that I’d been presented with a golden opportunity. Nine months work on a national tour, more importantly nine months pay – and how many new graduates can say they’ve entered the bottom tax bracket after their first year in the industry?
My name is Kitty, and I’m an actress.
There I said it.
Yes as we all know, admitting this information can open up the entire can of worms of questioning that we all hate. But there is also a great misunderstanding of what this actually means. Either it’s the dreaded, infamous ‘in anything I would have seen?’ question. But more often than not it’s the ‘An ACTRESS? Oh that’s so glamorous!’ remark.