I was at my day job on a Monday morning when the chance to play my first featured TV role came through. I had a call asking me to self-tape for a character in Ackley Bridge, but couldn’t get anyone to read for me until late in the evening. My agent had to wait for the tape until past midnight so he could give feedback. I made the changes the following morning and the final version was submitted. I didn’t hear anything back until the following Friday.
I was eating my breakfast when I had another call from my agent, who told me the producer and the director wanted to see me in Halifax that day, and he would get back to me as soon as he had a time. It was 11.30am by the time it was confirmed I needed to be in Halifax for 2pm. I remember thinking: “Oh sugar, I’ve forgotten my lines”, as I ran for the train, but I reminded myself I would have time to go back over them once I was on board.
Once I was in my seat, I took 10 minutes to meditate, as I find it helps me to focus and I can use it as a tool – not so much for getting rid of any nerves but to learn to work with them. Those nervous feelings are just energy and you can use them in your performance. When you have a short preparation time, like I did, all you can do is your best, rather than worrying about what you haven’t got time to do. That’s the approach I took and it must have worked because I got the part.
When I was on set filming, I learned so much from the experience, and that is down to the team who were very welcoming. Even as an actor new to continuing drama, I was able to feel relaxed and focused and be in the moment when I was doing my scenes. As it is early in my career, I’m still relying on advice from more experienced peoples and one thing my old acting teacher Andy Pope used to say still helps me a lot when I am tempted to over-think things: “Every living, breathing soul on this planet was born into life’s great improvisation, so trust in yourself completely, you’ve had a lifetime of rehearsal.”
Training: Salford Theatre Arts, Embers Group
Theatre includes: A Taste of Honey, Dealer’s Choice and Little Shop of Horrors at Salford Theatre Arts
TV includes: Small Word, Ackley Bridge, Annabellum: The Curse of Salem (film)
Agent: Lee Morgan Management
Wass Javed was talking to John Byrne