I loved drama school. I was a ‘mature’ student you see, and even though there were things I didn’t like about drama school, I found my bliss there after years of trying to find fulfilment in other careers. So, when the head of my course asked me what I really wanted in the future, the words that came out of my mouth shocked me, “a family” I said, “and to earn my living as an actor”. I got my wish, but the reality feels very different to the dream.
There’s a thing about being an actress that initially affects women more than men. While the men are affected in the long term, generally, they don’t stop working at any point in the lead up.
Having a baby.
Jonathan’s argument is eloquently put, and most importantly, he knows what works for him. Everyone has different systems for coping with rejection, and sometimes having a job gradually dissolve from your consciousness is relatively painless. But by the results of the poll, it would seem he may be in the minority.
“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.
Except when I’m not.
Over the years, since giving up on my salaried muggle job and leaving Belfast in 2009, I have filled the gaps between acting jobs (and plugged the gaping hole between acting earnings and London outgoings) by taking on paid employment of various kinds, with varying levels of financial compensation and, indeed, emotional toll.
It wasn’t until I got to Drama School that I realised the irony of my career choice. I thought that doing something practical, ‘Acting’ would work to my strengths. Little did I know that being an Actor is about 70% reading and, of that, at least half is reading out loud in front of people, usually to try and persuade someone to give you a job. Words are not my strong point. In fact, they are something I actively avoided when growing up.
Why did I become an actor again?
And it’s going pretty well.
You’ve worked with the director before and you share an anecdote that makes the producer and the casting director wet themselves.
And they laugh when you talk about the dog.
And the lines come easily, and the scene feels good.
And when the director asks you to be more front foot and faster, you are more front foot and faster. And the director nods at you and winks, like, that was what I wanted.
And they smile and nod when you get up to leave.
And the casting director squeezes your hand and whispers ‘Fantastic as ever’ as you leave.
So you go home buzzing a bit.
And you give up your seat to an older man on the tube and people smile at you. Nice guy.
So you ring your agent.