Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…
Emily Cohen is in her 20s and works in theatre and TV as well as running her own theatre company. She is an associate member of a national company
John Pepper is 31 and for the past 10 years has worked as an actor in regional theatres, the National and in radio, television and film
Beryl Phoenix is in her 40s. She has played leading roles at the RSC, worked on new plays, and toured both nationally and internationally
Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre
Annie Walker is 25. Since graduating from drama school, Annie has worked predominantly in regional theatres and is a writer and street performer
Beryl Over recent years I have been really working on trying not to envy anyone. It’s not easy. But quite a few, in absolute truth.
Emily It’s such a good question. I feel a lot of shame in envy.
Jon Good point. Let’s observe the envy rather than judge it.
Peter Simon Russell Beale. He seems to have the luxury of only choosing good plays. Because he’s good, of course.
John Constantly envying anyone who is just the next step up. Then you get there and find yourself envying the next step up.
Annie That’s hilarious.
Jon Oh God, I hear that. The 2009 me would have killed for a job I just turned down.
Peter Envy is fine. Jealousy is bad.
Emily That’s a good point, Peter. I envy people who are in the cliques, who make it look really easy when the doors feel like brick walls.
Annie I try not to envy anyone as I have worked a lot on my mindset… but…
Vivian I’m envious of people who, for various reasons, have the luxury of time and resources. Every show and performance has to be ‘Oscar worthy’. There is no chance or opportunity to fail, take a punt, explore ideas, chance to expand what I could do. I’m envious of anyone who can still learn, I suppose.
Beryl This is all so relative to your immediate circumstance.
Annie I guess I envy the people who are successful and not particularly nice people.
John Envy of doing less theatre and more TV, envy of doing more theatre and less commercial. Is it a feeling of the grass being greener, or are actors just never bloody happy?
‘I envy people who are in cliques, who make it look really easy when the doors feel like brick walls’
Peter I envy people who have nice cameos in feature films in wonderful locations. A nice part but lots of time off to explore.
Jon It’s definitely the idea of choosing work, rather than: “If I don’t take this, it’s bar work for the next three months.”
Beryl Social media is a breeding ground for envy/jealousy.
Emily Also, men. Lol.
Beryl Yes, Emily – men.
Jon Yeah, the stats back you up on that, sadly. And then one part in Shakespeare gets gender swapped and it’s all anyone can talk about.
Peter Gender balance is improving.
Emily I also think race comes into it.
Beryl And class.
Vivian Totally. Anything that allows your voice to be listened to above others. Envious of that.
Jon And, although I’m one myself, if I hear one more middle-class white dude say, “It’s a really bad time to be a white man in this industry”, I won’t be responsible for my actions. Removal of privilege is not oppression, etc.
Annie Agreed 100%.
Peter I definitely don’t envy actors starting out now.
Jon Just to let some air out of this – I also envy people who can dance.
Peter And sing.
Vivian Envy is totally understandable. But I do think it plays into the trope of the ‘actor’. I mostly know really supportive and enthused colleagues. Whereas, the whole “how many actors does it take to change a lightbulb?” thing, it infantilises us and keeps us bickering among ourselves instead of fighting the real enemy.
Annie Yes Vivian. It’s easy to get caught up in all that sort of drama.
Jon Vivian, you are absolutely spot on. If someone gets a part you want, they haven’t stolen the pie. They’ve taken a piece of a bigger pie. (I have trapped myself in a pie metaphor and I can’t get out.)
Beryl Let’s not perpetuate the myth.
Emily Yeah, if you don’t enjoy your journey, you’ll never be happy at the destination.
Vivian Oh, and I envy people who
can do accents.
John I envy people who can learn lines very easily. Spoke to a friend working on a big show and she learns her lines in the morning of that day’s shooting.
Jon Catching that sweet spot when they’ve gone in and before they fall out.
Vivian I envy confidence.
Beryl I hear that, Vivian.
Vivian And long limbs.
Peter Few people are as confident as they appear.
Vivian Of course. But some are.
Jon Vivian, Beryl – but you both know you’re good, right? That’s not me blowing smoke, it’s just that, isn’t confidence knowing you’re good at what you do? And although we have wobbly moments, I think that we all know we can act, otherwise we would drive ourselves mad.
Vivian But being good has little to do with the industry. It has everything to do with the art. Not the business. I envy classical looks. It does make it easier in a lot of cases.
Jon Yeah. My 20s might have been easier if I’d had hair.
Peter A huge number of actors, including very successful ones, say they’re frightened of getting ‘found out’.
Beryl Yes, it’s more everyday confidence. Also, I hate to bring it up but women get to a certain age and hormonal changes hugely affect confidence. Nobody told me this.
Annie Thanks for adding that Beryl. Never thought of that before but of course it would.
Beryl It’s huge.
Annie Furthermore, I imagine women have knocks in confidence at least once a month.
Vivian I’m envious of anyone who doesn’t have to worry about their rent, or the mortgage repayments.
Peter That comes with age, Vivian. I’ve paid off my mortgage. It changes everything.
Beryl Oh Peter, living the dream.
John I envy people who can own a house.
Jon Dryden Taylor is an actor, writer and editor of The Green Room. If you work in theatre and would like to join in the conversation, email email@example.com