My Other Job: David Nellist, deputy superintendent registrar
What’s your other job?
I’m a deputy superintendent of births, deaths and marriages. What that means is I conduct non-religious weddings, and I’m also qualified to register deaths, births, and conduct citizenship ceremonies.
How and when did you get into it?
In 1993, I saw an advert in the local paper saying that they were looking for sessional registrars (the first in the country) to join their team. It was just before my eldest child was born. I knew I was going to be a househusband for the first couple of years, so I was looking for something I could do at weekends to bring in cash. There was a list of criteria which I didn’t seem to fulfil, but I think the novelty factor of being an actor got me through the door in the first place and into the interview sessions. At the second interview, one of the elements was to conduct a mock wedding in front of the whole group, which played right into my hands. I’ve now conducted well over 2,500 weddings, including lots of actor friends’.
What happens if you get an audition?
After years of working there, I have a very good read relationship with my boss at the council, and now I just cover for anybody who wants a weekend off or is busy. It is more useful for them to have somebody like me cover it than to pull a full-time member of staff out of the office during the week. I tell my agent if I am going to conduct a mid-week wedding and he just doesn’t put me up for anything for those three or four hours.
And what if one of those auditions turns into an acting job?
With some acting jobs, I can still conduct a few Sunday weddings, usually I just come off the rota.
What makes it a good other job for you as an actor?
The best thing about it for me is that you are doing a job in which for the most part, you are your own boss. You liaise with the couple, and conduct the ceremony. You have responsibility and status. Basically, you aren’t made to feel like an idiot.
Do you use any of your performance skills?
I think it definitely helps being an actor. In fact, the council have recently advertised some positions, and I took it as a great compliment that it advertised in The Stage. I think the ability to be able to control an audience, and with experience, work out what sort of audience you are playing to, is extremely helpful.
Would you recommend your other job to other actors?
I would, because it’s steady; people will always want to get married.
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