Freelance acting coach Zara Tomkinson gives her advice for young people starting careers in theatre
How did you start in theatre?
I trained, worked in fringe and theatre in education, then landed a number one tour. I got my first agent after about five years of working.
What instigated the move into coaching?
I coach alongside my performing. I felt I had gained enough knowledge to pass on and wanted to pass on the transformational acting coaching I received from Bathsheba Garnett.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students and graduates today?
Be realistic. The majority of work is unseen by the masses. Yes, aim high, but also apply for jobs in TiE, smaller roles and theatres. Also, ensure you are properly paid.
What would you change about the industry if you could?
I would love the industry to be an equal playing field: in terms of gender, age, class, ethnicity, disability. And to lose celebrity culture.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing clients grow in confidence and finding the freedom to play.
And your least favourite?
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
It is important for each individual to find the right practitioners for them. I am a huge fan of Uta Hagen, and Jack Plotnick has some really great advice in his free e-book.
What is the one skill every successful theatre professional should have?
Groundedness – this increases self-worth, the ability to make the right decisions, contentment and respect for yourself and others.
What tips would you give readers for their mental and physical well-being?
There is no one way of approaching the industry. Tune in to your instincts and act according to what feels right for you. If you feel energised and proactive, go for it, and if you feel like taking long walks and laughing, and want to put the industry down for a bit, then do that. We all have our own rhythms.