How did you start off in theatre?
I attended a dance school in Gravesend before joining the Brit School aged 14.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
You have to love every bit of the craft. Success doesn’t happen overnight and those who work the hardest succeed.
What would you change about training in the UK?
As a teacher, I feel the quality of weekend performing arts training has really improved over the past decade, but as a lifelong learner, I’d like to see more high-quality workshops for professionals on weekdays.
What is the best part of your job?
As principal of PQA (Pauline Quirke Academy) Rochester, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone, I love seeing students grow and learn – and seeing them land stage and screen roles.
And your least favourite?
Paperwork is hard for creative people. And nobody enjoys the aspect of casting that inevitably leaves some children disappointed.
Which practitioners do you admire most?
Along with Meryl Streep and Judi Dench, I admire young actors such as Hayley Squires. Her performance in The Pitchfork Disney at Shoreditch Town Hall was really memorable.
What one skill should every successful theatre professional have?
Know writers, watch plays and practise line-learning, even when not working. Be easy to work with and interested in everyone. Always go to your boss with solutions not problems.
What does being a working actress as well as a principal bring to your training work?
Acting and performing are my soul. This passion is equally helpful whether producing a scheme of work for my academies or preparing for a role. It’s important to keep current so that, as principal, I can bring the right people who know the industry in to teach with us, and advise our students about how the industry operates. Our tutors form a great network of actors, writers and creatives – to collaborate with as artists as well as at school.
Verity Rae Martin was talking to John Byrne