Acting. Don't do it!
Seriously, if there's anything else in the world you think you might be able to do instead, do THAT. An acting career is, without a shadow of a doubt, a ridiculously hard nut to crack. I'm still working on it.
Ever since I trod the boards at university as Charity in the psychedelic musical "Sweet Charity" I've had the acting bug. The theatre bug led to me to trying my hand at being an extra while I was at uni and THAT was when I fell in love with film and tv sets
I was earning cash and immersed in a world of waiting around, being herded like cattle, kept for hours longer than you were promised and always being a little bit hungry and I LOVED it. I loved watching those untouchable beings, The Actors, transforming in front of the camera.
And, having watched them for a bit, I knew that's what I wanted.
So I became a primary school teacher.
I taught for several years until I had my kids. Eventually they all piled off to school and suddenly, suddenly I was going back to work. And there it was. The Chance. That mad dream I had, of one day being able to transform in front of a camera, had a window of opportunity. Of course, it was never going to happen, I could see that. I had no money or time to go to drama school. But although It Was Never Going To Happen I decided I'd find a way.
So I went back to being an extra. I just got myself back on set. I did regular stints for Casualty, Dr Who and Torchwood. Skins, Mistresses and Gavin & Stacey. I made a name for myself being a reliable, well-behaved, professional extra and I got lots of work watching actors doing what I wanted to do. Then one day I was offered one line of dialogue - could I handle it? "Yes", I said. I managed to look the wrong way for camera right (which is, in fact, left) but I styled through it. I delivered the line, I took directon and I didn't overstep professional boundaries. I got offered more one-liners.
Suddenly I had enough paid dialogue to qualify for the Holy Grail - Spotlight membership. I got it. But I knew I needed an agent. That was my next goal. My Spotlight "headshot" had been
taken by my hubby (copying the then-popular Actor In Front Of Brick Wall style) and whilst perfectly serviceable it wasn't really screaming top-notch talent. And I had no showreel, nothing to
prove I could act on screen. Until those two issues were sorted there was no point approaching an agent worth their salt.
I registered with Star Now, Casting Call Pro and Talent Circle and scoured them for suitable castings. I got myself a gig as The Mum for a series of promo idents for Ideal World and with the money from that (ALL of it!) I had enough to go to John Clark, who was a recognised name in actor headshots. Bingo. Another milestone to cross off the list. Then I discovered collaborative short films. I applied for lead roles, got a few and cut them down to a no-frills showreel. Cross that off the list, too.
Approaching agents needs to be strategic, so I ogled websites and if I saw another actress on their books that looked like me, I passed. I also aimed for agents who looked like they meant business, had vision. I found a handful, emailed them my headshot, Spotlight link and showreel and pretty quickly got a call for an audition with Simon & How. Now I didn't have anything to perform! I found whysanity who have a massive store of searchable SCREEN monologues, decided to go for a short but searingly poignant monologue from The French Lieutenant's Woman, turned up, did the piece to camera and got the gig. I've been with Sam ever since.
My point is that in life there will be all sorts of reasons why people tell you "It's not possible". There MAY be a reason, but it's often their reason. Or the system's reason. I was told categorically that people don't cross over from being an extra to being an actor. Actually, now I think it's far more common. Boundaries are being broken down, people are creating their own opportunities, re-writing the rule book. In fact, they're throwing the rule book away.
(I was also advised not to make this film. So I did. I'll be blogging about that soon)
So yes, if you truly can't do anything else as a career then acting is the best pain you can inflict on yourself! But you'll need to get out there and make it happen.