I didn’t expect to get into drama school – but I did. I was lucky to receive a full Dance and Drama Award to attend Guildford School of Acting and study drama. I worked hard to stay there for the full three years and gain my degree. It wasn’t easy, I had to jump many financial obstacles, but I did it.
The work paid off when my agent at the time got me my first audition in my final year of training, for two episodes of The Bill on ITV.
I hadn’t been to Limehouse Studios before. When I got there I was overwhelmed. I arrived 45 minutes early and tried to desensitise the nerves I felt by slowing down my breathing and relaxing my body. I went into the room to do my read feeling prepared and calm.
The casting director was lovely. I remember that first experience being conversational and I still take that into the room with me now. It takes bravery to know your best qualities and reveal a little of you to someone you have never met. I was over the moon to book that job.
My advice to new actors would be to think of yourself as a ‘creative’, not only an actor. Sometimes being an actor alone can feel limiting, but in the inevitable gaps it is important to create or do something you love, if you can. For me, that’s writing. It has opened up doors and makes me happy. I love sharing work at scratch nights. It’s a good way to keep creative. A lot of actors I know also teach, are poets, paint, play sports and so on. Extras add flavour to the craft and keep you vibrant. I believe it’s the creating that makes us happy.
I have felt up and down creatively because of self-isolating and trying to work out my finances and general worry, but I’ve also found solace in small joys – sharing a poem with a friend, reading a play, baking biscuits. Make time for yourself. Find the things that make you sparkle. Be slow and kind to yourself. Whatever you need to be right now, be that. Art will always be here when we need it.
Training: Guildford School of Acting
Theatre includes: One for the Road (Frinton Repertory Theatre, Jermyn Street Theatre, London); Offside (Futures Theatre Company); One Life Stand (Paines Plough Roundabout, Middle Child); Boots (Bunker Theatre, London)
TV includes: The Bill, EastEnders, The Line of Beauty, Law and Order: UK, Doctors
Agent: Marcus and McCrimmon
Tanya Loretta Dee was talking to John Byrne