Agent Josh Boyd Rochford: ‘Today’s drama students need to learn not only how to act, but how to survive’
How did you start in theatre?
Aged 11, as a principal boy soprano at English National Opera where I stayed until I was 18.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
It’s a RuPaul quote that I use endlessly: “Know who you are and deliver at all times.”
What would you change about training in the UK?
It’s too expensive, too white, too middle-class and too entrenched in an old-school idea of what the modern industry needs. Students need to learn not only how to act, but how to survive.
What is the best part of your job?
Watching how clients develop, how their interests change and watching them reach their full potential.
And your least favourite?
When I became an agent, my friend Con O’Neill said: “Be the agent who loves actors and hates the industry, not the other way round.” I’ve tried to be that, so I guess my least favourite part is dealing with the ‘industry’ – I remind myself that it’s a business. No matter how much you love it, it can never love you back. I encourage my clients to see ‘the industry’ as separate from ‘the community’.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
So many graduates I speak to want to act, but also direct, produce, write or cast. They worry if they step away from acting they won’t be taken seriously as actors. I encourage my clients to look up to people who treat their careers like creative portfolios, such as Michaela Coel, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Daniel Evans, Michelle Terry and Idris Elba.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
The mindset that they are a ‘creative’ every day, whether they’re being paid to work as one, or are spritzing people with perfume in Harrods. Your creativity isn’t linked to whether you’re being paid or not.
What is your proudest moment?
Getting sober aged 30.
Josh Boyd Rochford was talking to John Byrne