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Ian Davies: 5 tips for taking up acting later in life

Ian Davies. Photo: Matthias Heurich Ian Davies. Photo: Matthias Heurich
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Ian Davies, 32, followed most of his family into the army at age 16. Seven years later, after serving in Iraq, he wanted a change of direction and eventually trained as an Actor at LAMDA. Since his graduation last summer, Davies has filmed The Brothers Grimsby (released on March 11) The Huntsman: Winter’s War (released on April 22) and has a role in Game of Thrones. Here are his five tips for pursuing acting later in life…

1. Don’t quit your day job

Take some lessons but don’t quit your day job just yet. Find out if you even like it, and it’s something you want to do. Acting as a career is a gear-change. you will essentially be self-employed and work may not always reliable – I took evening classes at my local arts centre, learned some basic acting skills and met other aspiring actors.

2. Get some experience

Join your local amateur theatre group. Do your research as there will normally be a few different ones in your area. Watch some of their shows and chat to the actors to get a feel for the quality of the group. You can also sign up to an extras agency for film and TV work. It will give you an insight into the workings of life on set.

3. Improve your knowledge

Go to plays, all different genres – watch them and see what you like about them, read books about acting. Check out online forums for actors. You can often find helpful advice and also learn about the ups and downs of being a self-employed artist. Read up on drama schools and decide if professional training is the way to go for you. Go along to their showcase shows to see the end results of their training.

4. Audition for drama school

I found it very difficult to establish a career as an actor without professional training, which means like young students coming out of college I needed to audition for drama school. Gaining a place isn’t easy. It took me four years of auditioning before I cracked it. Be resilient and never lose your passion because unless you’re incredibly lucky, it will take several attempts to get in. Be prepared for this and come back stronger.

5. See your life experience as a positive

It’s never too late to become an actor. I was 25 when I started and 31 when I booked my first professional job. Morgan Freeman didn’t get his break until he was in his 50s. Your life experience and who you are is your most valuable tool. Use it and share it with your fellow actors. If you train at drama school, don’t be afraid to let yourself go, be silly, explore and discover new things. Old dogs are the best at learning new tricks.

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