It took a while after leaving drama school to land my first role despite serious hustle. I was ecstatic to say the least. It was for television: small role, nice character. The audition was fun and I was actually offered a different role from the one I was seen for. I went for a police officer and was offered a radiographer, which was great as I like anything technical. Even though it was a small role, I did a lot of preparation. Smaller roles are often harder as they need to appear ‘whole’ from the first moment – there’s no time for growth so it has to happen before you appear.
I had three scenes and I believe only one made it in. Unless your character is critical to the storyline, your scenes might get cut down, so be prepared and make every moment count.
Some more things I think about from that job that I can offer to new actors: I always take my own hair and make-up products on jobs, being of South Asian heritage. For my first job, my curls were brushed out because the hair and make-up artists did not know what to do and they used much darker foundation because it was all they had brought to set. I felt like an afterthought. It was rather upsetting and, unfortunately, taught me to expect a lack of preparation. I have had only two jobs so far where the hair and make-up artists were prepared on set, having checked before shooting about my hair, skin tone and type, which should be part of the normal routine.
I work best when I have space to focus. Don’t worry about keeping to yourself on set if that is how you work (many creatives do). There can be pressure to join in and joke around. Know what works for you and stick with it.
Finally, no matter what is going on around you, stay focused, grounded and keep your sense of humour when the lighting blows during your scene (it will). Expect the same from those you work with. Things can feel rushed, but remember you can ask for what you need: if you want to see your close-up scenes on playback, or do another take, just ask.
Training: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Theatre includes: 212 (Soho Theatre); Muswell Hill (Two Sheds Theatre)
TV includes: Spooks (BBC); The Children (ITV)
Agents: Nelson Browne Management (theatre, film and TV); Branded Talent (commercials)