It’s hard to know when I first thought of myself as a bona fide actor. It was probably at drama school, when my agent called about an audition for Romeo and Juliet in 2015. While excited, I thought: “what now?”. I began prepping sides, reading the play and watching screen and stage adaptations. Then I analysed the character analysis and did mirror rehearsals, before working on voice, physicality and polishing an accent (British-Indian).
The waiting room was overwhelming. With many lookalikes going for the same role, meant just trying to relax seemed beyond me. Focusing on breathing helped. This role was a turning point for me. Performing Shakespeare to a paying audience with a talented cast and a great director meant I finally felt like an ‘actor’.
Self-discipline, self-belief and self-love continue to help me. Firstly, creating structure can help bring calm to a chaotic career because when things happen, they happen fast. I have a timetable that includes classes, watching TV, seeing theatre, reading plays, enjoying creative hobbies and trying to embrace social media, always shifting my focus between ‘showbusiness’ and ‘showtime’. Ongoing prep means I can audition more freely by taking risks and having fun.
Self-belief matters because there’s a lot of rejection in this business. Supporting other actors through what can be an emotional rollercoaster is crucial, because we all experience waves of anxiety and disappointment.
As for self-love, an actor’s life can be lonely. Having a healthy mindset and surrounding yourself with good people are both essential. Accepting that not every audition will go your way helps lighten the load. Auditions are not always about booking the role, but about embracing a good opportunity to build a relationship with the casting director. Instead of ‘not right’, it may just be a case of ‘not right now’. Taking personal responsibility to drive your career means having a plan of action and staying resilient.
The box of chocolates line from Forrest Gump best sums up my acting journey so far. There are no half measures in this industry. So take risks, don’t be afraid to fall, and keep growing on what can be a magical journey.
Training: Identity School of Acting
Theatre includes: Hobson’s Choice, Women Redressed (Park Theatre); Significant Other Festival (The Vaults)
TV includes: Bodyguard (BBC), Lala’s Ladiez (Zee Entertainment), Girl on a Rocking Horse
Agent: Narrow Road / Bohemia Group
Jo Jasani was talking to John Byrne