My First Job: Michelle McTernan – ‘there’s nothing worse than not knowing why you’re saying something’

Michelle McTernan. Photo: Kirsten McTernan
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My first professional job was a play called Flesh and Blood, written by Helen Griffin and directed by Phil Clark. It was a collaboration between the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and Jenny Topper at the Hampstead Theatre in London. It was a small cast of four – myself, Di Botcher, Steve Meo and the late Brian Hibbard.

Helen had been searching for an actor to play Serena for a while and, having seen me in a devised play with the Steel Wasp Theatre Co at the Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea, asked if I would audition the following week.

There were so many other actors waiting to go into the room, many of whom I admired. I still think this is the worst part of auditioning. Helen and Phil were both sat in a large room with a table. I felt very comfortable with Helen, but this was my first meeting with Phil.

The audition went well and I left feeling fairly confident, but had no idea I would get the job.

Given that I had very little knowledge of the professional acting world, my first experience was pretty kind to me. I was incredibly ambitious and fairly confident, or at least I acted like I was.

Nowadays I’ve become more settled and enjoy auditioning. Before I enter an audition I make sure I’ve done my research. I read the script, or look for clues within a scene to find out more about the character. There’s nothing worse than not knowing why you’re saying something. I’m very inquisitive and always need to know why or to justify my actions.

My audition advice is always be true to yourself, and this means that you should know what parts you are suitable for and that you can relate to. Secondly, always be true to the writer. This has stood me in good stead. If the writing is good, you are halfway there.

CV: Michelle McTernan

Age: 45
Training: I didn’t. One day a friend called to ask if I wanted to start up a theatre company in Swansea. It just ignited that flame. I sold the house, left the job (and the boyfriend) and the Steel Wasp Theatre Co was born.
Theatre includes: The Revlon Girl, The Three Night Blitz, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Barren, The Merchant of Venice, Buoy, Macbeth, Granny Annie, Erogenous Zones, Trivial Pursuits, Family Planning, A Kiss on the Bottom, Roots and Wings, Cymbeline
TV includes: Stella series 1-4, Caerdydd, Bobinogs, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible
Agent: Regan Management, Cardiff

Michelle McTernan was talking to John Byrne