How did you start in theatre?
An inspiring high school drama teacher at my school in Salford got me into it – as well as an inspiring sixth-form performing arts tutor at my drama school in Pendleton. And, of course, Arts Ed School of Acting.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Listen in every capacity. Listen to advice, especially from your colleagues – and always use non-judgemental listening. Drop your ego, don’t take things personally. Develop an awareness of self.
What would you change about UK training?
I am interested in creating ‘equality of opportunity’ and this means continuing to confront the barriers we have around diversity and funding. With regards to dance and drama funding, this process needs to be more rigorous.
What is the best part of your job?
Increasing the awareness around the fantastic contribution the arts makes to the economy and society – across all sectors. Seeing the contribution that students make to society – and the joy they get back in return.
And your least favourite?
Trying to get students to lose their egos. Seeing students stuck in a cycle of thinking ‘it’s all about them’, which stifles them and others. The solution is inclusive and collaborative teamwork, which helps to provide a safe space for everyone to further ideas – breaking down barriers around producing high-quality work.
Who should students look up to?
Stop comparing yourself to other individuals for a sense of your own success. Look to the world and experience the richness of cultures around you. Remember that you can also shape the world and society by being your authentic self.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre/dance professional should have?
What makes a good actor?
Speaking someone else’s words as if they are your own. It’s about the art of storytelling.
Yusuf Khamisa is also equality, inclusivity and diversity coordinator at Arts Ed. He was talking to John Byrne