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My first job: Sukh Ojla – ‘Workshop auditions terrify me to this day’

Sukh Ojla. Photo: Ap Wilding Sukh Ojla. Photo: Ap Wilding
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My first job was working for CragRats, doing a tour of schools in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas with a play about post-16 options. It was 2005 and I’d graduated from drama school about six months previously.

I remember being told that CragRats was one of the biggest employers of actors in the UK and I had already met actors who had worked for them and enjoyed it.

At drama school, it was drummed into us that for the first few years we would be doing theatre in education and it was almost seen as a rite of passage.

I remember going to a workshop audition in central London. They still terrify me to this day. We played a few games, did some devising in small groups and there was a dance/movement session. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get it as everyone else seemed much more confident and experienced.

When I did get it, I was so broke that I had to take the National Express up to Huddersfield where we were rehearsing. I arrived feeling petrified and more than a little travel sick.

Thankfully, the other actors were lovely and easy to get on with. Our project manager, Chris Woodley (writer and founder of Hyphen Theatre Company) is still one of my closest friends.

I was plagued by self-doubt throughout rehearsals and the tour, but I’ve since come to realise this never goes away, you just learn to manage it more effectively. I had such a positive experience that I ended up working for CragRats the following year and had an equally positive experience.

The skills and confidence I gained led me to becoming a workshop facilitator and working with young people all over London. I understand that some actors may not want to do TiE, but every job will teach you something.

Be open to the experience, don’t compare yourself to others and if you’re not happy, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. I took a seven-year break from acting and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Apart from the decision to return to acting, of course.

CV: Sukh Ojla

Age: 33
Training: Court Theatre Training Company
Theatre includes: Pyar Actually (writer and performer), Future Conditional, Coconut
TV and film includes: Hospital People, EastEnders, Black Mirror, Victoria and Abdul
Agent: Noel Gay

Sukh Ojla’s sold-out show Pyar Actually tours until November 18. She was talking to John Byrne

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