In 2010, I graduated from LAMDA without representation. I was 25. I had met with agents, but I'd bottled it. I didn't have confidence in who I was as an artist, I had no idea of my casting, and the 'industry' was a word that struck fear into my very core.
I'm not even exaggerating, I was once shivering with fear as I left a meeting with an agent.
I wouldn't have taken me on as a client.
It was somewhat disappointing though.
When you get the letter to say you got into drama school, theres a complacent side of your brain which goes 'job done, I'm an actor.' It seems impossible that you'll get into these institutions when you apply, so when you do, it feels amazing and the confidence only grows as you feel yourself getting better as a performer during your training.
Then you meet the real world, and its even more selective, even more formal, corporate and intimidating than drama school auditions.
And like with any new job it feels insurmountable, at least it did to me.
But it isn't. It just appears that way. The first day at high school you feel like you could get lost at any moment, but by the time you leave sixth form you have memories of every nook and cranny in every building and you know every side passage and sneaky short cut.
In an acting sense, the 32 year old me would give a little re-assuring whisper to the 25 year old me and say, don't apologise for being you. Embrace it, its the only unique thing you have. Don't worry about representation, it will come, don't worry about your voice in interviews, meetings or on stage, you'll find it, focus on the work and the opportunities in front of you. Take your time, don't try to have it all from day one, you'll be setting yourself up to fail.
The phone will not ring off the hook with or without an agent, unless you make it.
Work begets work.
And the 25 year old me would look at me now and go "you smug bastard, what gives you the right to be so preachy", and I'd probably baulk at that, take my patronising hand off little me's shoulder, nod and walk away, shivering like I did when I left that agent's office, still unsure of my voice, still scared of being 'found out'.
But I guess I would look more convincing when telling people 'it'll all be alright', when they don't have access to my brain or my bank account, and so instead of whispering into the ear of a quantum version of myself, I came up with an idea along with Jamie and Salvatore who I run From Ground Up Theatre Company with - its called Represented and it is a project which will give graduates a bit of time and experience to transition into the industry.
Applications are now open, and we are looking for graduates from UK drama schools from the last two years (2016/2017) who do not have representation. If you apply, you will get an audition, and if you audition you will receive feedback.
From the applicants we will build a company of 5 actors with whom we will develop a new play which will be performed at the Pleasance theatre in Islington for 3 weeks Feb-March 2018. We're hoping the project may even tour!
And the best bit, everyone will be paid. It'll be a professional job. And it'll be a role written just for you in a brand new play, so it'll be another chance to showcase your skills.
But its more than that. We hope that the project will show people how easy, and rewarding creating and producing work can be, and with the help of Pleasance Futures we are going to provide workshops on forming companies, getting work programmed, networking and a lot of other really useful advice for young artists.
If this sounds like a project that you'd be interested in, or if you know someone who might. Then please click the box below.