How did you start off in theatre?
I auditioned at 14 for a company in my native Philadelphia that devised theatre-in-education shows around adolescence. I played pregnant, suicidal teenagers, which thrilled me but terrified my parents.
What is your best advice for students?
A lot of this business is about luck and knowing how to be in the right place at the right time. The luck that you can control is being prepared when those occasions strike, with your performative body, active mind and open heart.
What would you change about training?
Access. It is not enough to say that schools want to diversify and improve access to training, and then continue to pay lip service to making actual change happen. Those of diverse backgrounds (including differently abled people and all genders) have to be given the chance to audition and attend drama schools. Once accepted, the culture within schools must transform.
What is the best part of your job?
Watching the penny drop as a student realises something. When they relate past knowledge to new concepts that you have introduced.
Who should students look up to?
Multi-hyphenates (writer/director/actor) and people who didn’t take no for an answer.
What one skill should every successful theatre professional have?
Asking questions about everything you read. Being an analytical and emotive reader, as well as critical and retentive.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
That the exact things that someone once gave you a hard time about and even made you question your place in the industry are in fact strengths. You must treasure and develop that unique selling point. It has made you memorable and needs to be lovingly cultivated.
Hannah Kaye is associate lecturer at Drama Centre London, which is part of Central Saint Martins. She was talking to John Byrne