South Londoner. Will work for food. Favourite colour red. Loves dogs more than cats. Kinda funny.
I first met Rosemary in the halls of Rada, while we were paying our extortionate fee to stand in front of 2 people for about 10 minutes, we bonded over perspiration and sheer love of our craft and also a determination that drama school wouldn’t stop us doing what we love. I’ve been following her and recently saw her face adorning Tricycle theatre. Here Rosemary answer some questions.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an actor ?
Probably when I was around 7 when I did a school play. But I didn’t really take it seriously until I was around 19. Then I was like OK this is the career I want to pursue.
What inspired you ?
That’s such a big question. Urm lots of different things. I guess the main thing that inspires is the love for what I do. I think people, experiences and stories inspire me. There isn’t just one thing.
What excites you and attracts you to theatre?
The story. The performers. The set. I think I’m always interested to see bits of theatre that have a provocative story or if the direction is innovative.
As an actor what qualities do you think are imperative ?
A Peaceful Mind – because this business of acting can be stressful. Keep Calm.
Courage – because it requires you to WORK, FAIL, LEARN and REPEAT.
Entrepreneurship – because being an actor is being self-employed so know your damn business and know what you are selling!
Self Awareness – check your wellbeing: mentally, spiritually, emotionally and financially. Take care of yourself. Your journey and is your own and no one else’s so be kind to you.
You were recently at the Tricycle theatre performing can you tell us more about that?
Yes so it was an immersive show called Switch. The story is about a post-apocalyptic world where people can no longer thrive on earth so they are choosing to be plugged into a virtual world. I think the development show was somewhat difficult at the beginning because it was a devised as well as immersive with a cast of about 22 people. The process literally was something like: Devise it. Write it. Create it. Play with it. Rehearse. Cut. Edit. Rehearse. Rehearse with audience. Cut. Change. Rehearse. Create. Rehearse. Rehearse. (Panic – that was me). Perform!
The ending changed every night because it was based on the decision of the audience. It was an incredible experience because the audience where so engaged in what was going on and the feedback was brilliant. We learnt a lot during those audience runs. We were so happy that our audience felt encouraged to participate. It sold out so fast so we’re putting it on again in the summer!
As a black actor what challenges do you face?
I feel that Black women are constantly in a fight to be seen for roles where the colour of the character is unspecified but don’t get the chance to audition, or go up for those roles because the default race to any unspecified character is always white. I probably don’t get as many opportunities for jobs and auditions as my white counterparts. I think Colorism is another issue I guess. Sometimes they would cast a mixed or lighter skinned black actress who has more European features because they fit the “beauty ideal”. Also having to play stereotypes that are perpetuate a negative image of black women grinds my gears – like I don’t mind playing a bad character but the story has to be there. I don’t want caricatures.
What are your views on drama school training? It is a expensive and competitive avenue, what is your advise and opinion for those who don’t get in?
I did a year course at Rose Bruford but I haven’t done a three year degree and I was only able to go on a full bursary. I think it is expensive and it is competitive but I wouldn’t rule it out. I think make sure you know why you’re going, what you plan to attain, and understand that it is work like anything else. It’s a good way to learn and grow as a professional but it’s not the only way. There are so many places to train that have courses that are part time, full time and seasonal. There are masterclasses, workshops, seminars, talks, events. I mean there are opportunities to development outside of “drama school” if you look for them. There are teachers at drama schools who work freelance so they are probably teaching in other places as well. I think once you’ve done your research and spoken to a lot of people you will find that there are a ton of resources out there especially in a city like London.
More and more actors are writing and producing their own work, do you think this is the way forward?
I think that’s the way it going – creating your own content. It’s the way to be heard, seen and not bored to death. As an actor you don’t really get that much creative control and a lot of it is waiting around but when you write or produce, well, then you get to tell your own story which is very empowering as a performer and keeps you proactive. Yeah, do it! Make it!
What work would you love to create? Or projects your have at the moment ?
Possibly a one woman show at some point. I wanted to make a short film about a piece of bacon and an egg on the run from being eaten, but then I realised I was hungry and hadn’t had breakfast!! but wouldn’t that be an awesome debut?!
Actor awareness is about Diversity, with the media and our ethos empathising ‘not enough working class representation’ what are your thoughts?
I think the initiative is great. Acting, like any art, is not about class. It’s for everyone.