Its been a joy being back in front of the camera, after previously appearing in TV drama’s such as Cracker, New Street Law, Scott & Bailey and series two to five of BBC Drama Waterloo Road. I have just recently change my casting agent due to taking a few years out to set up my PR agency and become a mummy. In January, I visited my new agency Linton Management for the first time, and I soon realised how much I had missed acting and wanted to get back into the swing of things pretty quickly. I had come to the conclusion that you don’t need to stick to doing one ambition, its all about multitasking and making the most out of every opportunity that’s given to you. I am still running my business, I am a mummy to my 20 month old boy, and I still have a house to run and a fiancée to keep on his toes, so one more extra hat to wear wouldn’t been so bad.
I was in a pretty good position to take up acting again, because since I was now working for myself, I could take time out of my day to go for auditions and meet new casting directors. I booked myself in for some professional headshot with photographer Emma Phillipson, as my last ones were 10 years old! No wonder I kept getting roles for 18-21 years olds. It was time for a change.
I recieved my first audition within four weeks for a BBC Comedy Drama called Sunny D, which is written by stand up Comedian Dane Baptiste who also stars as the leading role. The drama is based around Dean who is 29 years old and still lives at home with his parents and twin sister, his ambition, quest for success and flying the nest is a comical journey full of highs and lows.
I received the script to audition for the part of a nurse, who works with Dane’s girlfriend and when I read it, it was pretty fun to say the least. I arrived at the BBC HQ at Media City, after running straight out of a meeting at work, and was taken to meet the producers of the show. The character was a Tinder obsessed singleton who was reinacting a date with her latest conquest from the night before, making fun and giggling with her colleagues about his baby talk in bed. I got so much into the role, I was straddling chairs, cracking pretend whips, you name it. The producers seemed to love it, but it soon dawned on me that not only was I doing this in from of them and the camera in the room, but the floor to ceiling windows behind me, gave the whole office a full demo of my audition, which they obviously witness in action, minus the sound! Delightful!
One thing about auditions is that 90% of the time you are totally outside your comfort zone… talking in different accents… using pretend props….. and in my case that day straddling a chair, screaming. You are usually in and out that quick you don’t have to time think about how silly you may look. You have one chance to show how creative you can be with the script given to you, and then your gone.
It was a good three weeks later that I got a call from Linton to say that, I had been unsuccessful for that particular role, but they had offered the role of ‘Terri’ that I didn’t have to audition for this time. Bonus! My new script arrived the night before… yes the night before! And I soon realised, I had been cast as a gangster ghetto girl, with a broken English script. Anyone who knows me knows that this is so far from me in real life, I must admit, I panicked a little. When the costume department called to ask if I would be ok wearing a white wife-beater vest, a coloured bra with trackie bottoms and heels, I was slightly mortified. I went to bed nervously revising my patwa, as I was the first scene of the day with a 6am call time.
I arrived on location at the Vermillion & Cinnebar restaurant in Manchester, went straight into hair and make up and ready on set by 7am to rehurse my lines. The scene was a speed dating scene, where the main character Dane, was meeting three ladies in his quest for love. One was a greedy golddigger, the other was a bunny boiler and I was the gangster chick. The producers and Dane went through my lines as I didn’t quite understand some of the lingo and I wanted to make sure I got it spot on. After having fun reading it with Dane and hearing how he made it lighthearted and comical, I was ready to shoot. A few hours later, after doing a few takes and different camera angles, it was a wrap and I must say, I actually had fun being a ghetto girl for the day!
For anyone looking to get into the acting industry or who has the acting bug like me, here are my 5 top tips in getting started:
Make sure you use a professional photographer who has a good portfolio doing acting headshot. They tend to use natural lighting rather than studio and will not over edit your final images. You need to look at natural as possible in your headshot, like a blank canvas so casting directors can see how they can mould you into different characters. Go for natural make up, and keep clothing to black, white and neutrals.
Learn Your Craft
If you have never acted before, and you are worried you may not have enough experience, don’t worry. Sign up to a local theatre class and start learning your craft. At home, start to film yourself reciting scripts and watch yourself back. I used to hate seeing or hearing myself on screen, you see all your angles and notice habits you may not have noticed before, but its the best way to perfect your skill. Even hobbies such as dance classes, being able to do different accent can all go down on your CV. Audition for local plays and try and get experience in theatres to add to your attributes.
Once you have your headshot, send them to a reputable agency. I started doing extra work as a background artist on soaps such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks all the way through university for about 4 years. It gave me experience being on set and seeing how productions are pulled together, the pay was about £80 a day back then, but more importantly it great to put on your CV and a good starting point for TV work.
Once you have found a good agency to put you in touch with casting directors, you need to register on Spotlight to become a registered artist. The fee is around £120 for 18 months and you can upload your headshot, CV and list your agent as your reference. Spotlight is an online forum that all casting directors surf through to find artists for featured roles. This is there go to site to sift through potential artists, and then if you are suitable, they then contact your agency who will then get in touch with you. If you’re not on spotlight, it can hinder your from getting roles.
Once you start getting new roles, start uploading all your footage onto a showreel. A professional showreel is usual sent to a company who edit it into a three second clip, which you can send to casting agency and directors. These can be pricey and very hard to updated each time you every time you get a new role. I now use You Tube and upload all my TV show appearances, adverts and TV interviews all online. I share these through my social channels and can update them as and when I wish. You Tube is an avatar for self promotion, so take advantage and get uploading your best bits!