Graduated From Drama School...Now What?
I graduated from the Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio in September 2012 and ended the year with a Showcase.
It’s been an emotional roller-coaster - blood, sweat and tears but thoroughly enjoyable. During my time training, I have met some amazing people that I consider to be life long friends and great tutors that I consider to be mentors.
When the showcase ended, I suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of excitement (I cried tears of happiness) that I’ve graduated, the course had come to a close and it was time to begin my acting journey.
I felt raring to go and start working on my first project.
However, as days past, my over thinking critical hat kicked in and analysed every single question I could think of. A billion questions racing through my mind - Where am I going? What do I do now?
Am I really an actor? I need to get an agent. I could go on forever. I felt like I was lost, bewildered and had come to a crossroads. My stomach began to turn into knots and the feeling of panic and pressure of having to get work settled in. It felt like I was away from the protective bubble of my acting course and thrust into the unknown.
Facebook and Twitter became a dangerous combo.
I couldn’t help but stalk what my fellow classmates were up to (I’m sure I’m not the only one) and read about their news of auditions and getting parts. A fellow actor friend (who shall remain anonymous) did suffer from this syndrome, and now barely looks at Facebook and doesn’t tell anyone what she’s up to because she believes she’s so over sensitive.
I fell into a mini slump of depression, thinking that I wasn’t good enough to be an actor, despite applying to every conceivable casting site I could think of and getting rejections.
My confidence started to falter. I had stopped trusting myself and my instincts. Thinking about the business side of acting - agents, casting directors was stressing me out, despite all the relaxation techniques I learnt during training, I kind of stopped breathing.
I can hear my acting tutor say to me ”Breathe Kim!” (breathes). I was kidding myself that everything is going plain sailing.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and their successes. But I knew I had a choice. The choice of whether to keep making myself feel worse thinking negatively, or take time out for myself, gain perspective and telling myself that there’s still time (I chose the second option).
I am on my own journey. My journey is completely unique with its own obstacles. I started to take action, writing down a list of my acting achievements - reminding myself how far I’ve come, the advice/ inspirational stuff my tutors said, getting rid of bad habits and making a list of goals titled ’What have I done today that makes me believe that I am an actor?’ - Practice sight reading, learn a new monologue, take a workshop, research the acting industry etc.
All these steps are helping me on my way slowly but surely.
I gained representation and got my first professional theatre audition. I didn’t get the role but I took it as experience to learn and grow. It’s important to be yourself in an audition, be positive, be prepared, don’t conform to the idea that you know what the casting directors wants - change your accent, hair.
Your talent is not in question, you’re what they want or you’re not and that casting directors are not out to get you. They are actually gunning for you to do well!
Don’t be afraid to fail, learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up and move forward. Take the time to learn about the business side of acting - agents, casting directors, audition process, headshots, showreels, research what is happening in the industry.
As a newbie, I’ve learnt this profession is a marathon not a sprint. About letting go of the outcome, coupled with a great deal of patience and perseverance is a must if you’re willing to learn, put in the hard graft and trust that things are working perfectly for you (repeat the mantra” I am on my own journey” ).
I decided to build on my showreel. About 3 months after graduating I began to get work. My first music video, a comedy short film which was the best experience ever and a commercial. My confidence came back and I felt grateful that I had the opportunity.
There is a misconception that your agent does all the work for you. Nothing could be further from the truth! It’s a partnership. Don’t just sit and wait for your agent to phone you for work. Be proactive. Create your own work. Collaborate with your acting buddies, help each other, go through scenes, practice cold reading etc.
Be diligent. A lot of people get caught up in the business side of acting. Yes we need to market ourselves but don’t forget about knowing how to act! So practice, practice, practice. Never stop training, never stop learning.
I can hear you cry ”But I’m an actor and I’ve already done 3 years of drama school training” or even if you’ve been in the industry for years, you never stop learning. You always find something new. Grab the opportunity to learn a new technique, take a workshop, accent work, scene study class, or private coaching. No one is born an actor and there is no substitute for hard work.
There is no need to rush (marathon not sprint) and don’t forget to take care of your well being which is very important. As I have found, when you place your entire focus on acting you lose sight of real life. As with most thing’s in life, a balance is needed.
Yes we are actors, but don’t be delusional thinking if you could get a job or that acting break that it will set you free, make you a star and that you’ll be instantly happier. Feeling good in yourself is not about what’s happening externally, but how you deal with it from within.
Have a life outside acting - study, see the world, take up a new hobby, volunteer. This will open your eyes and help your understanding of people and you can use those experiences in your character work. Catch up with all those friends you had when you actually had time for them before you were going to embark on drama school. Hopefully they’ll keep you grounded.
So my advice is to trust yourself, trust your instincts, breathe, believe, be bold, take risks, be present, don’t be afraid to ask for help, respect others, be kind to yourself, have a great sense of humour, be positive, be prepared, be persistent, be grateful, don’t be a diva/diva-dude, don’t be bitter, be yourself and breathe, so have fun and enjoy the adventure!
About The Author - Kimberley Wong
I’m a newbie to the acting world having graduated from the Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio, London, September 2012.
I’m at the very beginning of my acting career. I’ve recently been working on a music video, a comedy short film and a commercial and continue to build experience and that showreel! I’ve got lots to learn, but I’d like to support and encourage fellow actors who are in this crazy business.