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.
When I moved back to London in February last year, I bloody loved being funemployed. I got to explore London, see all my friends I hadn’t seen in months/years, go to the theatre, cinema, go on nights out. I truly was a lady of leisure and I was having the best time. It was fun.
‘My Other Job’ started going out weekly via the The Stage on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. And it will continue to be a weekly feature on the site for as long as I can find actors who ware willing to be interviewed about their interesting ‘other’ jobs. Here’s the first one (and the second). Before the idea for it
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’s the mooooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeeear…
With the kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you to MAYBE START THINKING ABOUT A PGCE BECAUSE YOU WERE ALWAYS SUCH A CLEVER CHILD AND AUDITION FOR EMMERDALE AND PERHAPS ITS TIME TO COME BACK FOR GOOD AS THE PROPERTY LADDER ISN’T GETTING ANY SHORTER AND THE MORTGAGE ADVISORS WILL LAUGH IN YOUR VERY FACE ON THOSE WAAAAAGES 🎶
I’m in a coffee shop with my headphones on, trying to dull the sound of the man next to me shoveling soup, disgustingly into his gob. I’m listening to actors on a podcast about acting, talking about acting. The guest is apparently quite good at it, even though he sounds pretty downbeat about the whole affair and as I continue to listen, I cannot help but audibly say the words ‘I’d kill for your life mate’, which causes the disgusting man slurping soup, to stop and stare at me. We look at each other for a second, before he continues to gorge noisily.
I first met Isaiah Johnson when I was teaching for NYU. Yup, in a former life, I worked ‘full-time’ as an ‘academic’ (inverted commas implying exactly what you think), and although facebook and twitter have kept me in touch with quite a few former students, there are only a handful with who I have become and remain friends. What I’m saying is, Isaiah is very easy to like; think John Hamm in last week’s Toast of London. When he was working over here a few years ago in the same theatre as my wife, she tells me everyone in the office had fallen in love with the guy. And I could quote a lot of reviews to back up my next statement: Isaiah can act. Oh yeah, and he can sing too. Like really sing.
They probably cover it at some institutions already, but one thing my three years at drama school didn’t teach me was the importance of a good resting job. Some might argue that such an idea is counter-intuitive – obviously you’re going to have a career that doesn’t necessitate anything but acting work. Or you’re going to quit within the first six months. But for 99.7% of those graduates that make a go of it, that isn’t the case.*