My first professional job came about because of a conversation I had 10 years ago with the director Graham Hubbard. We had just worked together on a youth production of Jane Eyre and I was busy applying for drama schools, when he said: “You should write to Pippa Ailion and try to be seen for Spring Awakening.”
The show had been a success on Broadway and was about to transfer to the West End for its UK premiere. Searching online, I saw that open auditions were still happening for the London production, so I sent off my information.
I spent hours on YouTube trying to find the right audition songs, in the right style, that suited my voice. Even now, I always feel most nervous about the first round of auditions, because the songs I choose have a lot to do with whether or not I get through to the next stage.
Being new to it all back then, I had six chicken nuggets and way too much water just before the audition. But two minutes later, I had a recall for my first West End show. With hindsight, the only thing I would do differently would probably be skipping those nuggets, because everything else seems to have been what they were looking for and I was cast in the role of Anna.
It’s important to believe that anything can happen
All you can ever do in terms of preparation is be the best version of yourself and fall in love with whatever material you choose to read or sing. It’s important to believe that anything can happen and let that spur you on to be ready for whenever opportunity does knock.
If you believe even for a second that you aren’t the kind of person that opportunities tend to find, it’s time to start telling yourself a different story. Trust in the hard work you put in when all feels quiet. Those times can be the most important of all.
Theatre includes: Funny Girl (Savoy Theatre), The Twilight Zone (Ambassadors Theatre), American Idiot (Arts Theatre), Chess (Union Theatre), Snow White (Old Vic and on tour), Spring Awakening (Lyric Hammersmith and Novello Theatre)
TV includes: Doc Martin, Doctors
Other credits: Debut album Real, released by Sony Records
Agent: Shepherd Management
Natasha J Barnes appears in The Twilight Zone at Ambassadors Theatre until June 1. She was talking to John Byrne