My first job: Holby City’s Gemma Oaten – ‘I love auditions; if you stay true to you, you can’t go wrong’
My first professional TV audition was for two episodes of BBC’s Doctors. I had graduated from Drama Studio London just two weeks prior to that. I couldn’t believe it. I was so lucky to be signed before my graduation by the amazing Helen Filmer at Jonathan Altaras Associates. I was the only student to be taken on before graduation that year and, although she’s no longer my agent, she is still a massive part of my life and I am forever grateful.
Walking into the BBC studios was surreal. I sat in the waiting room looking at the wall with all the cast photos for EastEnders, Holby City and Doctors thinking: “How did I get here?”
Although I was nervous, I was more excited just to have the opportunity. I love auditions. The prep, the research and the chance to feed my brain with new scripts and plays is always a joy. I always go in without expectations. I aim to enjoy the experience and deliver my best. Preparation is key. I always say: “Just be you.” Chat, be open, be warm and listen.
I was lucky with the people I met that day. The director Brett Fallis and casting director Claire Ewing were lovely and kind. I hit it off with them instantly. When it came to the read, I felt in safe hands. I knew my lines back to front and had given real thought to the character.
I learned there and then that if you’re yourself and stay true to you, you can’t go wrong. I know it sounds obvious, but do the work before you get in the room. Make sure you are free and easy with the lines and open to direction. Be willing to play.
Take every audition as an opportunity to learn and progress and not a desperate quest to get the job. Take that pressure off. But invest in the audition to the point where, whatever the outcome, you can hold your head high and know you gave it your best and take away a new experience. ‘Always be kind’ is my other biggest piece of advice. The power of kindness in this industry, alongside the power to dream big and have faith in yourself, will take you far.
CV: Gemma Oaten
Training: Drama Studio London
Theatre includes: Up n Under, Bedroom Farce, Evita, Somebody Call Me a Cabaret!
TV and film includes: Emmerdale, Doctors, Casualty, Holby City, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Rise of the Foot Soldier Part 3
Other credits: Founder of Amigo Productions
Agent: International Artists Management
Gemma Oaten has recently launched Amigo Productions, producing cabarets and other events