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.
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.
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.
Then the fears start to creep in. There are the generic ones that we all feel I suppose. The fear of a miscarriage or complication and how that would affect you and your relationship. The fear of an ever widening, achy wife with a million needs. And obviously the fear of the actual event.
But for me, there were some other fears too…