Where does one begin? Someone once told me every good story begins somewhere in the middle. I suppose I should start at the point where my life led me into the realm of Acting and work back from there.
I had been living in London, for more than four years when I decided to do something about my poor communication skills. I had noted an ad for the Actor's Theatre School in North London the previous year (1999,) but due to work commitments (working two jobs in market research,) and part-time university studies, I was a more than a little stretched. By 2000, my university studies were pretty much on hold, I had left my evening job behind (long story,) so felt I had the time to deal with my communication problem so contacted the School again and made an appointment and went along to a meeting and my first session. The gentleman I met Mr. Eamonn Jones ran the school with his partner Ms. Jean Marlow. Both were Actors with long careers and Ms. Marlow was also an accomplished and published Writer. The sessions went well and Mr. Jones suggested in his wonderful Irish accent:-
"Why don't you do the full actor's course dear boy? You will find it will give you good all-round training in communication skills plus, you will have fun doing so."
I took him up on his offer and that was the beginning of what would be an interesting and at times a fruitful and rewarding experience and career.
By the spring of 2002, I had finally got my BSc Honours Degree in Computing and Multimedia but was laid off from my job in Market Research. It was anything but a career, never enjoyed it so finances aside it was no great loss. The rest of the year was spent making job applications, filling in endless forms and not getting anywhere. During this time I began doing some voluntary unpaid work as a Production Assistant at a studio in North London where my drama classes were held. The ‘gentleman’ who ran the studio had set up a film school there and as I was living off unemployment (or Job Seekers Allowance as it was known by then,) so it seemed a good way of not losing heart at my continued unemployment, as well as working in the Studio as a way of paying for my screen acting classes.
To cut a long story short, my involvement with the Studio lasted three years. During that time a major film project was under development there so in addition to and as part of the course, I along with the collective, assisted with playing out scenes, filming scenes and generally working and acting in a workshop/rehearsal situation, which was all good experience. This led to my involvement in the shooting of the trailer for the film. Not only was I involved in my role as a Production Assistant but also involved in set building, catering and assisting the crew, as well as working as a supporting actor on the project.
This experience led me to look at the film and television industries in greater depth. I contacted various casting agencies and landed jobs as a Supporting Artiste (or background Extra if you will,) on various film and television productions, in between developing my career as an Actor.
It has not been all plain sailing - Far from it in fact but I have and continue to stay the course. One could say my whole experience as an Actor has been far from safe and it has certainly been no easy ride. The school of hard knocks comes to mind when I am asked to describe my experience and career as an Actor. It certainly is not for the faint-hearted to be sure. Another factor is unless one has been to an accredited drama school, there is no easy way in (at least not in the UK anyway). I guess loving what I do has kept me going where many would have fallen to the wayside and given up. I have just kept on going and like I said, it has been rewarding in some ways but there has been a lot of hardship along the way, not to mention the constant uncertainty each day brings. This is one aspect of an Actor's life - Living with uncertainly each day.
I suppose if I was asked what my Unique Selling Point (USP) was as an Actor I would say 'That I have lived.' I had a life of thirty-seven years before I even took an acting lesson. Much of those years were hard and difficult for me personally and while I would not say my childhood and adolescence were terrible, terrible affairs, there is much that I received from my family and elsewhere, I could have done without. I still carry much of that experience around with me, though I try as much as I can not to let it affect me too much. Still it all comes in handy in some way in terms of what I now do. Acting is about living and I have certainly lived in my own unique fashion.