Cutting a long, tedious, life story short, I spent four years studying a Masters at a red brick university only to discover, on its completion, that at the age of twenty-two, I still wanted to be an actor.
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’d done some musical theatre when I was younger, a few scenes on the stage in Edinburgh here and there, got some training under two coaches just in case I got the balls the pursue the dream, but it wasn’t until the real world hit me with a nine to five in a claustrophobic cubicle and a balding boss high on his own mediocrity that I realised, I can’t not be an actor.
I’d made up my mind long before that this was my path, but the real question, the question that had kept me from drama school and from moving to London was, quite simply, how?
So I forgot about the how and simply asked when?
Then I forgot about the when and thought why not now?
So here I am, six months in as a hopeful actor (with a job on the side), about to embark on my first real on screen project alongside a large cast and a decent budget; but a new question in the midst of my toil has arisen, that being…
Does this mean I’m an Actor now?
Amongst the regular tweets and instagram posts of me riding around on a horse with the hashtag, “game of thrones here I come,” and a torrent of banterous abuse from “the lads” back home, I began to question, when is the point at which you can acceptably call yourself “an actor”.
Is it even reasonable before you reach the loft heights of the Tom Hardys and Jonny Depps, or even that of a stable actor making their income from work on the stage (a rarity I know) that you are able to award yourself with the title.
Does reading the back catalogue of Arthur Miller in a New York accent alone in your room for hours on end screaming “I have give you my soul; leave me my name,” at the mirror constitute an actor? Is it the financial gain from a job, or a drama school qualification; or even securing an agent, constitute the right to call oneself an actor?
I’ve come to realize that there is no right answer to the question. In a world were most people don’t even know that the rungs of the industry ladder even exist between a jobbing actor and Daniel Day Lewis, or the difference between a character actor and a leading man/woman its hard to explain to people the path you have decided to walk.
Being from Sunderland, in the North East the best advice my mother could offer me when I told her I was upping sticks and moving to London was to stick around and audition for Geordie Shore. You never know, she said, could be good publicity.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from listening to Jonathan Harden and his incredibly insightful guests is that the road wont be easy, perhaps especially so for an untrained actor, but dedicating your life to the craft and not giving up on the pursuit is perhaps the most important talent you can possess.
In the mean time, I’m going to keep on pounding the pavement, looking for every bit of work I can get my hands on and maybe one day, be it ten, twenty or thirty years, someone will walk up to me on the street and call me “that actor.”
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