As well as tackling the Diabetes world, I am also an actress – possibly the hardest and most challenging career path that I could have chosen for myself. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My love for acting and performing came about long before I was diagnosed with Diabetes. From around the age of 3 I loved to sing, dance and act. I attended ballet classes for 8.5 years, went to a weekend drama club called Spotlight and always took part and pride in performing in the School shows. To this day I wish I hadn’t stopped going to ballet, however at the time I was 11 years old when I quit and I didn’t quite realise the relevance it would have for my future.
The cementing point for my love of performance was when I was 10 years old and was cast as the lead female in our Primary School production of David Copperfield. I played the role of Agnes, David’s second wife. I remember everything about this show so vividly. The teachers held an audition process for the Year 6 classes for the lead roles in the show in the School hall. I was trembling with fear as I stood in front of two teachers singing S Club 7’s Never Had a Dream Come True. I suppose that was my first proper experience of an audition, which is funny to look back on.
We were all in an ICT lesson on the other side of the School when one of the teachers wandered over to announce who had been cast in what role in the show. When they got to the lead roles of David and Agnes my mouth absolutely dropped when they called out my name. I couldn’t quite believe that they had chosen me! When my Mum and Dad returned home from work that day, they seemed just as shocked as I was when I told them the good news.
The production went really well, of course with many amusing anecdotes, which I still hold dearly close to my heart. After the show was over a teacher approached my parents and said; “We didn’t know Emma could sing like that.” To which my Mum and Dad replied “Neither did we.”
From then on that was it. I attended weekly singing lessons, went on to study Drama at College and later received a 2:1 BA in Musical Theatre and Dance Performance at the University of Cumbria.
This brings me to where I am today. Now, acting is somewhat a dream profession for many people. It is a very difficult industry that doesn’t particularly build you up as a person, let alone a performer. You have to deal with an abundance of rejection. If you can’t handle that, then I personally wouldn’t recommend this industry as the industry for you. I’m lucky in the fact that I am quite a resilient and driven person. I think being diagnosed with Diabetes really molded me into that.
As well as being determined, driven and tough, being an actor comes at quite a hefty price! You have to pay for a Spotlight membership, Casting Call Pro membership, Equity membership, singing reel, show reel, voice reel, headshots, gym membership – the list goes on! It’s rather ironic that the profession which is the hardest to receive work in, is the most costly profession too! No wonder there are so many of us struggling to get by.
Some of us are lucky enough to have an Agent who is able to get you auditions in front of top Casting Directors. Not going to lie, my current Agent hasn’t really gotten me anything, but that’s not to say they’re not submitting me for things as I’ve seen that they are. Sometimes it’s just all about waiting for the call and being suitable for what the Casting Director is looking for. Everything I seem to book I’ve booked off my own back recently through hard work. Saying that, some people have Agents who are sending them to auditions every week. I spend day after day trawling through Casting Call Pro applying for anything and everything that’s suitable for me. It’s a very frustrating experience but I’m never going to give up on reaching my goals.
Whenever I meet new people they ask me the inevitable question of “What do you do?”. Now, this question is completely acceptable, however it’s the dreaded question which always follows. “Oh, you’re an Actor? What have you been in?”
If you’re not an actor you have no idea how it feels to be asked this question. If you’re in a position like me where you’re wanting to break into TV or be cast in a really big Theatre production this question makes you feel rather small. The misconception people have for actors is huge. Just because you’re an actor doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the TV or in well known films all the time. Acting takes hard work and dedication and getting to that point is extremely difficult, unless you’re very lucky!
For me acting is a constant learning curve that I am experiencing every day. I get myself out there and try every new experience that comes my way. When I’m not acting in a particular project it is inevitable that I need to pursue a “resting” job which will allow me to keep afloat financially whilst I apply like a mad woman for acting work. It is beyond difficult to find a job that is flexible enough to let you drop a shift last minute to run off to an audition. People just don’t understand how essential this is for actors.
I am currently taking a massive risk and going full steam ahead with self employment. It’s not easy and money is a constant worry. However, I am going to keep going for as long as possible before I need a desperate money fix. At the moment I am grabbing every flexible opportunity I can. I am currently undertaking various bits of promo work with a fantastic company called Tribe – http://www.brandwarriors.co.uk. I am on the books with a teaching company called Horizon Teachers – https://www.horizonteachers.com. I look after two little girls twice a week through an amazing and very flexible creative childcare company called Role Models – http://www.rolemodels.me/. I also partake in some extras work though the company POP – https://www.wegotpop.com/.
As you can see, being an actor is hard. It’s not at all like the glam Hollywood fairytale that people imagine it to be. You really do have to take risks, sacrifices and hone your skills and craft every day. I can safely say that my attitude to acting is exactly the same as my Diabetes. I am never going to give up as I’m too determined to succeed. Let’s just keep going and one day, it will happen.