Emma initially did a foundation course and then studied for a degree in musical theatre at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
I work as an actress and specialise in musical theatre. I have had roles in a number of musicals including some in the West End, as well as appearing in my own cabaret show.
I come from a really musical family and when I was seven was taken to a production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, where I fell in love with musical theatre. I chose acting because I love the variety of the work and particularly love live theatre - every audience is unique, which makes every performance unique too.
Going to drama school was useful for several reasons. It was hard work and taught me a lot of discipline. For example if you turned up late you were ‘locked out’ of all the classes for the day. It really expanded my range of skills and because you’re training alongside 40+ other people you’re getting exposed to loads of ideas and creativity. It’s also good for getting seen by agents and in the final year we focused on putting together a series of showcases for agents/casting directors. There were lots of opportunities for agents to see your work, and over the course of the different shows they saw the full range of your skills.
Having an agent is pretty important, it is possible to get along without one but it makes everything much harder. You have to be even more proactive than you would otherwise, making lots of phone calls and sending your CV to casting directors - all the sorts of things that an agent would do for you. It’s also useful to have that support and someone who can be a sounding board if you’re getting frustrated or de-motivated. Most of my friends who don’t have agents have tended to only get fringe work and their focus is now as much about getting an agent as getting work. The one advantage of operating without an agent is that you get to keep more of the money you earn, but in most cases you’ll be earning less without one anyway. All agents are different though and it’s important to find one who’s right for you.
It’s good, especially early in your career, to have other ways of earning money, because there’ll be times when you’re really broke. Things like attending dance classes or monologue workshops are important for keeping your skills sharp if you’re not working and they cost money. When I first graduated I did plenty of random temp jobs, including lots of promotions work, but you can’t rely on these to always be available. The turning point for me was when I had to dress up as a Pot Noodle to hand out leaflets for a promotional campaign. I decided I needed a more reliable and enjoyable way of earning money and so I recently completed a fitness instructor qualification. The financial security of knowing you’ll always be able to pay your rent, and also to be able to afford small luxuries like nice clothes occasionally, really helps to maintain energy and enthusiasm for acting. Plus fitness instructing is a flexible job which still allows me to attend auditions.
I’d recommend acting, but it’s definitely a career that needs lots of determination. You have to be focused and really want to do it, because they’ll be lots of ups and downs along the way.
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