I want to write about my near misses in my acting career. Those times in my life that I very nearly got the part or was down to the last two or three people to choose from.
Do you know how that feels? When you are on the brink of something amazing or what you feel could be a turning point for you, that feeling is pure elation but when it turns out to not be the case, that is devastation.
I felt drawn to acting when I first started really understanding who I was. It was after the crippling shy stage of my life when I started to push a few boundaries and start exploring my creative side. It was quite a journey from that point to getting into drama school and then graduating to join the flocks of actors turning up for audition after audition.
Looking back, I was quite lucky to bag an agent straight from drama school. I think that was mainly down to my tenacity that I just kept on writing to agents over and over. Inviting them to shows and constantly sending them my head shot.
I got some pretty good auditions, through my first agent – small TV roles and commercials and a couple stand out in my mind because they are wrapped up in that emotional memory of the near miss.
I never really wanted to be a commercial actor but the pay off was always a good fee, and as a ‘broke as a joke’ actor any influx of money would have been welcome. So when I got the call for a Heinz commercial, I jumped at the chance – even though it wasn’t going to win me an Oscar.
It was a great audition, one that I felt I just nailed it – and then I got a recall, and then I got pencilled – which meant that I had to put the filming dates in my diary because there was a possibility they wanted me. This was no ordinary commercial. This was a big brand commercial that paid big money and I was so excited at the possibility.
The worse thing about not getting a job as an actor is then seeing the thing you went for shown on TV hundreds of times. This is what happened with this commercial. The girl that got it, I remember then seeing in lots of other things after that too. I was devastated. But not as devastating as not getting a lead in a film.
It’s a similar story, and I could regale you of all the anticipation of going to lots of auditions and again, getting down to the last two to then feel that sinking deep wound that you didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t a huge block buster film, but it did quite well at the time – one of those British indie films which I then saw the actors in doing lots of other stuff after that.
The thing is, all the rejections and near misses are really tough. But you just keep going. I did.
I kept going – whilst it was still my burning passion and desire. I kept on because it was all that I wanted to do.
I was an actress for twelve years (give or take) and no I didn’t have a hugely successful career, but I did enjoy the work I did. I toured a lot, I saw places I’d never have seen if I wasn’t touring with a company, I met incredible people, worked with amazing creatives, fell in love, fell out of love, all throughout my journey and career as an actress. And because I kept going I did eventually get some TV roles.
I went to so many auditions that I can’t even count but I did get the one that got me on Emmerdale and I did get the one that saw me on The Royal Today (a bit like Casualty). I got another TV role but I can’t even remember the name of the project!
I kept on doing it until I didn’t like it any more. Until I felt there was more to life than running from audition to audition and never committing to anything other than acting. And that’s when things shifted.
That’s the caveat of this story. Keep going, never stop, unless it’s not something you want anymore. And then at that point, you are allowed to change your mind.
So, go conquer the world, until that’s not what you want to do, and if it always is, keep going for it.