John Challis is known for Boycie from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ here he imparts some wisdom.
John Challis never went to drama school, he was born to a civil servant father and grew up in South East London, he even started out as an estate agent before his acting life took over. John supports Actor Awareness and definitely believes the campaign is more than a hashtag! He says if our voices can be heard the industry will hopefully take notice, maybe casting directors, producers, agents and writers will see that there is an inequality that needs addressing and changes will come around in helping working class people, actors, writers and artists, enabling and facilitating dormant talent.
John adds as an actor you will always be looking at other actors in roles you wish you were doing, thinking ‘I could do that,’ but this attitude leads to frustration. John insists you must keep that fire alive that makes you want to be an actor, try immerse yourself in theatre by seeing plays or working for theatre companies and remember to network; networking in this day and age is made easier through email, twitter and online profiles (Spotlight, CCP, Shooting People).
Opportunities come around when you least expect it, through a small part you did or through a recommendation, a lot of acting can be luck or who you know. John’s role on ‘Only Fools and Horses’ came after performing in John Sullivan’s play Citizen Smith,
‘it wasn’t till a year later that I got the call after John said he wanted to keep my number, as he wanted to use me again,’
Opportunity does knock and often it can be unexpected. John agrees that the industry is hard and even tougher for those from working class backgrounds, there is often thousands of applicants for even bit part roles and people who have managed to afford headshots, showreels and expensive training are at an advantage. Here I want to stress it isn’t about being rich or poor but the aim is to get diversity and recognition of seeking out talent that can’t afford such tools, which would help the industry feel inclusive and not exclusive.
John’s lasting words are that the industry is tough and rejection is round every corner, so one must develop a thick skin, the reality is that acting is a hard slog.