Case study

Drama educator and actor — Tegan Westall

Tegan's resilience, determination and rejection of a typical nine-to-five lifestyle got her not one, but three drama-based graduate jobs

Why work more than one job?

I was already working as a professional actor before starting my degree and I wanted to continue with this, but I also wanted to try new things.

How did you get your jobs?

I did an online job search and found part-time jobs as a junior stage/LAMDA teacher for Stagecoach and another as head of drama and LAMDA teacher at an extracurricular performing arts school. I liked the sound of these roles so applied and interviewed for them, this included a teaching demonstration and I got both jobs.

I find my freelance acting jobs through casting websites, networking and with the help of my agent.

How relevant is your degree to your jobs?

Very relevant. All teaching work, especially the higher LAMDA grade exams, requires a deep understanding of plays and playwrights, which I gained through my degree.

The practical aspects of the degree also help me to create detailed characters when performing.

What's a typical day like?

In school, days differ depending on which school and age-group I am working with. I spend my time organising and preparing lessons, teaching classes and liaising with parents and staff about student welfare issues.

When acting, my days are usually long but never typical. I might be playing a misunderstood teenager one day and a zombie the next.

What do you enjoy about each of your jobs?

I love the variety of teaching different age groups, as each class requires different skills and has unique challenges.

With acting, I enjoy the assortment of work and tackling each new project. I love the opportunities to work with new actors, directors and crew, and it's always great to work with a director whose work you've admired.

What are the challenges?

The preparation for school exams and shows can be stressful and busy. Working with younger children can present behavioural issues.

Travelling between jobs (between different schools and acting jobs) can be challenging and in acting there is also a lot of waiting around, which I find hard.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I enjoy the challenges and variety of portfolio working (having several roles), so I hope to continue working in this way. I am soon to start another job as a drama teacher at an independent school, which will be a new challenge. However, if I was in the same position in five years as I am now, I would be happy.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Persevere - the performing arts industry is competitive to get into, but it is possible. Don't give up because you get a no.
  • Try new things - don't assume you can't do a job just because you haven't done it before. I'd never taught a class before September last year.
  • You've earned your degree, so use it - don't change industry because you assume there aren't any jobs, because they are out there.

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