I have been a part of the Industry since I was 7 years old, starting out as a child actor on stage. I think for me it’s the fact that no day is the same… Whether that is a new Script coming in, or a last minute casting request from a Director! There really is no way to predict how the week will go and for me that beats any 9-5 office job!
I started out Casting my own short films using mostly friends to fill the parts before (by chance I should add) I attended a networking event and met with a representative of a large company and after much persuading on my part, I landed my first commercial casting job! Thankfully the rise of Social Media has given actors, writers and people like myself a platform to connect with Indie (and established) directors, producers and other professionals. Thanks to Social Media, networking nights, screenings and other such events, I have connected with some really talented story tellers and creatives.
The advice is to send me a nice headshot (or 2) and a CV, plus details of any shows/performances you are taking part in… I always try my best to attend but if I can’t then I do send along my Assistant.
Personally, my favourite people are the ones who (despite the rubbish train journey or traffic) come in with a smile on their face, cheerful, have learned their lines and are ready! I can’t stand it when an Actor says ‘I haven’t learned the lines as I only got the Script yesterday’. If you was on a soap, you would be learning 10x more dialogue in 24 hours on a daily basis. Not acceptable.
I think some do… However for me, I don’t think an Actors ability is necessarily determined by Drama School, some of the best actors had no formal training. Drama school is great to learn and practice but ultimately, if you fit my brief then I am going to call you in… With or without drama school training.
We believe that Actors should be treated fairly like all other freelance workers and should receive fair pay! To often we see casting calls for actors that offer no pay, no expenses and more, unfortunately the more eager actors out there will go for these parts and see it as training or experience… Whilst I appreciate their passion, it’s still wrong.
As Casting Directors we do not cast for no pay jobs or expenses only as we do not agree with the idea of working 10-12 hour days with no pay.
I think it’s a very sad situation… Coming from a working class background myself, I know only to well how expensive Drama school is and the stigma that seems to be attached to working class actors! Some of the best talent lays hidden amongst working class actors. I believe and we are doing everything we can to change this through our own street castings in deprived areas of London and other places.
I urge Agents to open their eyes and look further afield to these sorts of places, your next big star could be sitting there undiscovered!
THE MONO BOX is a collaborative, not-for-profit project that provides actors and directors with affordable access to a unique, ever-growing collection of plays donated by industry professionals.
They provide actors and directors access to an extensive collection of plays donated entirely by industry professionals. They support actors to find suitable monologues/scenes for auditions and showcases in a relaxed, informal environment and deliver affordable workshops, direction and Q&A sessions to support actors’ development.
They invite professional actors, directors and playwrights to be in their a collective which fosters and nurtures creative relationships.
Speech Surgeries are monthly events that inspire, nurture and inform actors of the parts and playwrights available to them. Whether you’re looking for a new audition speech or want some advice, Speech Surgeries give actors and directors alike an opportunity to discover plays and ask searching questions in an open, relaxed environment.
NEXT SPEECH SURGERY: Sunday 10th April @ 10am – 2.30pm LOCATION: Old Vic New Voices Workrooms, 16 Drummond Road, Bermondsey, SE16 4EE
Or you can have one on one session. They can offer new speech ideas if you’re in need, re-direction, audition technique, advice or just the experience of doing your speeches in front of someone other than your Mum before an audition. Email email@example.com for more details or to book a session
Check out MonoBox events at www.monobox.co.uk/#!events/cv9l. They have so many affordable workshops and events by leading industry professionals.
Jaime is a producer, performer, artistic director and executive director of Theatre N16 in Balham. The theatre has moved from Stoke Newington and is becoming a prominent fringe venue for new writing and quality work. Jaime has worked hard and knows the industry well having produced many plays at Edinburgh, as well as up North, he also understands the struggles actors face as he was one once himself. Theatre N16 is a fringe venue that has just signed with Equity @EquityLPNP and in the last 6 months and has paid all his staff a wage, that’s a really positive step forward for fringe theatre. Here Jaime answers my questions.
Jamie growing up how did you decide that you wanted to be an actor?
I always knew I was an entertainer, I needed a medium to express myself from a young age and that’s how acting came about. I would however say now I definitely don’t consider myself as an actor and I’ve gave that side up. As a producer and artistic director I see myself as a storyteller now.
Who inspires you?
So many things and people inspire me. My real love is football and where I’m from, that always inspires me. I’m from the North East where passion comes in abundance. Heart on your sleeve types are the norm. That’s definitely what inspires me most. I just want to tell stories with real fight and against the norm. The individual that inspires me most at the minute would be Michael Harrison who’s one of the producers of Gypsy and The Bodyguard on the West End. We have ties to the same small town theatre where I’m from so to know somebody from home has done so well makes me know I can do the same.
What attracts you to theatre especially ?
I found it the easiest medium to get into so that’s what sort of hooked me. I have a background in filmmaking also, but with filmmaking it always takes meticulous planning and an excessive amount of time micromanaging. With theatre I’ve always had a knack of getting shit done with no money and just real graft so that’s the attraction really. I think i’d be making films if I had loads of cash. Probably because I enjoy watching films more than watching theatre If I’m honest.
What advise as an actor would you give to other actors
As a theatre maker I’d advise to mingle lots. Don’t ‘Network’ that words a load of shite, just mingle and see things and do things and meet people and just be nice and not businesey and just nice. Does that make sense? I cast someone on 1/3 talent, 1/3 suiting the part and 1/3 a nice human being who wants to talk about lots of nice things. And is nice. Also work hard, work damn hard. Nobody owes you anything, yes we all complain sometimes about how “difficult it is to break in to the industry” but stay grounded and remember you live in the UK, you’ve most likely got food on your table and your chasing a dream
You have produced many of your own plays at the fringe, how has this developed you as a producer, artist?
I started as a producer on the fringe to basically give myself parts and help people around me so as a producer it helped massively. The best thing is to make a load of mistakes and learn in the worst possible situation. I’ve learned so much from these mistakes and seeing mistakes and how not to do things around me.
What advise do you give companies going to the fringe?
If it’s your first time? I’d say don’t listen to what most people say. Most people will say don’t get pissed and whatnot. I’d say do it, drink every night, go to parties, meet loads of people, see loads of stuff. Chances are you’re not gonna get picked up in your first year, so just really be in the moment and enjoy it. Your part of the biggest arts festival in the world. It’s such a special feeling. Especially the first time you do it, it’s electric. And you just never know who you’re going to speak to a 4 in the morning after your eleventh cinzano and lemonade.
You have a theatre company based at The Bedford in Balham, what made you set up Theatre N16? What is N16 ethos?
I’ve always talked about having a pub theatre for years. I worked for a golf club for years and used to produce theatre in it’s clubhouse so I’ve always known the restrictions and the skillset you need to manage a building that might not necessarily ‘get’ theatre. I worked for another theatre on their management team for a year and decided I’d picked up enough skills and ideas and could do it myself, so that’s where N16 came about. Myself and a few other creatives opened it up for a short time in Stoke Newington (where the N16 comes from) and the idea was to provide a space that kept overheads as low as possible and that’s basically what it’s about. We believe in everyone being paid fairly, all of our staff are paid, we don’t run on volunteers like other places and we signed Equity’s fringe agreement too recently. Again reiterating what I said before, I’ve always had a knack of finding money and making work through hard work. N16 is an accumulation of that.
You promote allot of new writing, what about new writing excites you?
I like text and you just know when you read something that could be brilliant. As a producer on the hunt for the next big thing is an exciting prospect. I want to find the next Luke Barnes or Alistair Mcdowell. (Both Northern lads may I add)
You just signed a agreement with payment for fringe artists , kudos, what other issues do you think are most prevalent in the industry at the moment?
Issues is a tough word isn’t it. I think there’s many problems in the industry at the minute that lots of people are working extremely hard to solve, gender equality being a massive one but that’s obviously not just this industry. If anything I’d say our industry is at the forefront of trying to change things with loud voices speaking out and doing so much to make a difference.
You have been supporting Actor Awareness, firstly thank you and secondly why do you think it is important to offer your support? How do you feel about diversity especially working class actors?
I’m from a real working class area and it’s blindingly obvious that the people currently in power don’t give a flying fuck about any of us plebians. I think pushing working class people and trying to get them on a level playing field is something that has to be done. Diversity across all platforms of storytelling is a must for proper balanced work to breakout. I’m a massive fighter for this idea and will continue to be so. However sometimes if you just step back, see what you are trying to do, realise you’re white, male, live in the UK and look at what’s happening all over the world- it makes you push a little harder and continuously appreciate what you have, over what you don’t have.
Thank you Jaime for your time.
Readers DO go visit Theatre N16, they have fab new writing and plays being produced as well a literacy department for budding writers, where you can get feedback on your play. Jaime is the very essence of Actor Awareness, a northern working class lad pushing for a diverse theatre forefront.
Actually, the very thing I hated when I first started – stopping and starting! I love the fact that screen acting has just as much, if not more, technical craft involved to create work that not only is believable, but looks as good as possible on screen at each moment. I’ve been fortunate to work on a lot of big US TV productions and you really learn a lot from American actors and experienced directors as so much dedication goes into the craft to make it look as good as possible. I also love stepping into a huge set and there being just an army of people working together. It’s awesome! Just as in theatre, it’s a collaborative process with a lot of attention to detail involved by a lot of people.
Ok, so I work with The Young Actors Company in Peterborough and Cambridge, we have been going nearly 50 years and I absolutely love it. I treat the students the same way as adult actors, which they not only appreciate, but benefit from. Yes, we have a lot of fun, but we devise work that says “something” and essentially I try and give them a taste of drama school training as we create theatre and practice the various acting techniques to build confidence and hone craft.
The show I am directing is very exciting – The Monologues of a Tired Nurse, written by an actual nurse who is now also training as a professional actress, will be at The Space. It’s a two hander with very talented actresses playing the nurses and it’s moving and funny, and very raw. We want people to not have a stereotypical view of nursing, but really think about the human condition. The human condition in all its facets – we literally examine it!
I’m also in, and the co-creator of, a ridiculous, spectacular B-Movie homage called (it’s a catchy title): Escape From The Planet of the Day That Time Forgot! Myself, actor/director Katherine Hurst and actor/director Gavin Robertson, both renowned particularly for their physical theatre work, have designed a show that we unashamedly want people to just sit back and enjoy. We are at Assembly Roxy for the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s our first collaboration since the acclaimed The Other Side in 2009. We’re also touring internationally. Both Katherine and Gavin are award winning creatives so it is always fun and inspiring to work with them.
Save your money in advance, it can get VERY expensive… Also, don’t underestimate the power of marketing and getting the reviewers in early if you can sway people. Be nice to everyone as word of mouth really is hugely important and for God’s sake, don’t take any shows up there you don’t put the appropriate effort into. It can get pretty harsh, pretty quickly and you get out what you put in… don’t just do it to “do the festival.”
They both have their attractions and in all honesty, it varies job to job. I love the challenge of acting in terms of the characterisation and making people believe what they are seeing and very importantly, to connect with the other actors in a company on stage as if you are really there. It’s beautiful to create emotion and art and I like to play even during a long run, and go with my feelings, instincts and reactions and have that from the others too and see what happens! I love that no two performances or on screen, takes are the same and I love that little choices can alter the fabric of meaning hugely. As a director, I’d say stress levels are much higher, but the payoffs are huge! You get to see other people work up close and to gain inspiration from everyone’s gifts to create great art. I also love seeing someone progress in confidence as we work together and try to tell a story the way we feel it should be done.
Don’t be such a doubter. Don’t try to overcompensate for your lack of self belief by trying to prove yourself. Trying too hard usually results in bad results.
Trust that the people there on panels want you to do well. At the end of the day, you have no idea what panels or directors, casting directors for that matter are really looking for from you. If you are worrying about what they are thinking you’re not being yourself and that is your biggest selling point. If you can eliminate that and then work the monologues a little with some outside advice to help make bold choices then you will feel better and have a better chance of doing well. Generally I don’t care how well someone can learn lines. I do care about whether they have connected with the emotion of it and can adapt to direction. You do not need to be PERFECT. It doesn’t exist and you are going to drama school to learn the technical skills as much as anything else. Panels are not looking for a finished article. What would be the point?! I also care about how you come across as a person. Be lovely, just be yourself and make mistakes then recover confidently, don’t be arrogant and defensive.
Artists who care about the work, not just the adulation or the money. That goes for people who make great music and other art forms, as well as actors. My students also inspire me. The way young people can be unaware of their instinctual gifts and come up with something that is more honest and clever than the most experienced professional is always an inspiration.
I think it takes time to take your ego out of it for a lot of people. I’ll use myself as an example as for a while, I wanted to be seen a certain way, hard man types and such and such. Sometimes we can be afraid to look weak, even if that is character but of course, that is ridiculous! If that is your type, embrace it. I got hung up on knowing martial arts, being bald so therefore looking a certain way but physically, I’m quite slight and short so I’ll never be in constant work that way! What I have learned to love is playing weakness, weaselly types, even taciturn outcasts or nice guys. So I’d say my challenge was accepting my type!
I do not feel it is as diverse as it should be at all. I have worked in casting and as an agent as well as my work on stage and screen and one thing I’m certain about is that unless roles are specifically detailed as “other” the establishment which is largely white and middle or upper middle class in England see all roles through those eyes unless they are specifically labelled “disabled”, “gay,” “black” or “Arab” etc. I feel that Hollywood does not get off scot-free either because of the very specificity of identity and perception of type. Bad guys are Middle Eastern or Upper Class English! Heroes in blockbusters are all supermodels or body builders. Now this is not necessarily all the fault of the production companies and the industry – there is an element to humanity and we see it reflected in the media all the time, where people want to see the ideal, see what they are not, as that seems to be shiny perfection. So the industry reflects that as much as the industry creates it! So diversity in the industry is an interview in itself…
I think it depends on each person and what they prefer for themselves. Personally, I like creating through devising and writing as much as I like getting work from other sources too, the collaborations are really interesting. But, as I get older I realise that the important things is to enjoy what you do. If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong!
Adam is an award winning Director/Writer/Producer Artistic Director of The Regional touring company Baroque Theatre and is the Associate Director of the Canal Café Theatre in London, home of the Guinness Book of World Records holder world’s longest running live comedy show ‘Newsrevue’ which he has directed many times in London.
His work in film and advertising has twice been nominated at Cannes Lions winning in 2006 in the same year he was named as one for the creatives of the year in creative review magazine. He won an Editor’s Choice Award as Artistic Director for best new venue, Edinburgh 2008. He directed the winning show for the national new writing competition for Writers Avenue (Seconds) which received a transfer to the Pleasance Main House. He was awarded “Best Director for Theatre & Film” at the Fringe Report Awards 2012. Adam also directed an acclaimed UK tour of ‘Great Expectations’ for the bicentenary of Charles Dickens birth .
He directed ‘Dracula’ in the West End in a limited sold out run starring Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval). He has also directed Lady Windermere’s Fan and new writing based on the life of Woody Allen at The Pleasance Theatre staring James Phelps (Fred Weasley, Harry Potter film series), as well directing for the University of Cumbria and various Drama Schools across the UK . Adam has directed Moliere and Lorca in French and Spanish language for the sold out five star seasons at The Barons Court Theatre and internationally. Further credits include The Birds by Conor McPherson from the story by Daphne du Maurier. Inspector Morse “House of Ghosts”, “The Haunting of Hill House”, “Up Pompeii” and many others for Baroque Theatre Company.
He is now joining Actor Awareness as our executive producer!
So Adam you are firstly a great director, I’ve had some first hand experience. What draws you to directing?
Thank you I am blushing, I love telling stories in a variety of ways using a wide range of methods, I enjoy very much working with actors and tech, my training was very practical, there is not a job in film or theatre that I haven’t done professionally and I always wanted to direct to use the talents and energy of casts and crew to tell great stories.
You’re director who really understands actors and works with them, what do you think a good actor offers a director?
Great actors offer me options as a director, no one wants an actor to just stand there and say “direct me”, we want creative minds and people prepared to take risks and experiment, look ugly and be beautiful. I want an actor who has great personal discipline and a joy and hunger for what they do, someone who brings ideas and enthusiasm into the rehearsal room and is prepared to match my energy and commitment to any given project.
What makes an actor stand out for you?
Someone who treats the industry and themselves like a business rather than a hobby, unfortunately I do come across some actors who aren’t prepared to even do the bare minimum or present themselves badly, don’t read a brief properly or simply expect something handed to them with no effort. Talent isn’t enough you need to own your art and self, be prepared to sacrifice and do your research, constantly be working to improve yourself .
When casting a show for actors, can you give our readers some tips on answering an ad.
Yes, firstly actually read it properly….Don’t skim read, all the information you need should be in a well written ad and it is normally not much to read. Also do your research, find out about the project and the people involved, don’t just cut and paste a standard covering letter. Once you have done that ask yourself the question do you actually want to apply, is it the right thing for you, are you available? if yes then write a personal short and professional cover note stating your suitability relevant experience and knowledge of the piece and or the people. If you are Dyslexic like I am have someone proof read it. No more than a couple of short paragraphs, as casting is a time pressured event people may not have the time to read a long detailed letter.
What excites you about theatre?
I love the immediacy of the theatre. The linear aspect of it; the excitement of an audience entering an auditorium before curtains go up. I love the feeling of captivating an audience and feeling the energy created by cast and spectator. The fact that no two nights are ever truly identical and different audiences see a show differently, find new elements funny or moving it keeps you on your toes.
What do you think as a director is your best asset?
I am an actors director and what I mean by that is I feel I can communicate across concept and enthusiasm clearly and effectively to create a shared vision. I also understand tech and design which helps create the world of the show and I like to work collectively as part of a company. Over the years I have gained enough experience to work smart and fast allowing for strong time management and people skills. My shows I am pleased to say are generally happy ships. I lead by example using my energy and enthusiasm to motivate my teams.
You are a avid supporter of Actor Awareness, what drew you to being part of the campaign?
I strongly believe the Arts should be the leaders in helping to create equality and diversity. We have a duty to help raise awareness and create opportunity for education, this promotes and ensures a rich tapestry for our society. Actor Awareness is striving to do just that and has grown so much in a short space of time, we don’t just talk about inclusivity we actually do something about it and get off our own backs without funding. My personal goals and those of Actor awareness were well matched. I have always operated a blind casting policy for example (Where I have been allowed to sometimes right holders won’t allow it) and have actively fought for and tried to address the imbalance in the industry in my own small way. Actor Awareness has helped me reach more people and actively create more opportunity.
You are now executive producer of Actor Awareness, what do you want to do within your role?
I am delighted to have a more formal relationship with Actor awareness and I hope to be able to provide even more support for Tom and everyone involved. It means I can help with fundraising and profile raising. We have a shared goal and I can now wrap up even more work and events with Actors Awareness, there are some very exciting developments and opportunities being created so watch this space.
In your own theatre company you are very adamant about highlighting gender equality and women voices, what do you think about both issues and representation in the industry at current?
They are appallingly represented. There is far too much discussion without anything actually being done to tackle the problems. The fact that Women especially are so under represented at every level is ridiculous and the mainstream top end of the industry must do more to address this. Writer’s producer’s directors and casting directors we need to do more to get away from traditional gender stereotypes and start focusing on the human story regardless of gender. I understand there are commercial concerns but we must trust our audiences more that they can easily cope with gender reversal or blind casting. We need more female roles we need better female representation at the top end of the industry, enough now it’s 2016, the time for change is upon us not in five years’ time but now.
You often talk about not being pretty on stage, being truthful, what do you think about beauty and image in the industry at current?
The focus can on beauty especially body and weight is very worrying. Women are being objectified and considered more for their outfit then their character. I have created an actors bootcamp keep fit for performance. It is about Strength endurance and flexibility not about weight; you can carry weight and still be fit.
I often see in students or new graduates so much fear in their performances that hold them back because they are scared to look ugly on stage. You can’t be beautiful on stage without allowing yourself to be ugly as well… Don’t hold back let go and allow you the physical and emotional expression needed to fully realise a character. We are all ugly, good looking, fat, thin, unique, the same…we need to get over ourselves and allow freedom of creation to occur for real truth on stage.
What do you feel about uni trained and drama school trained students?
I feel that the main difference is not one of talent but opportunity and technique. What I mean by this is at most drama schools your week is structured with long days working on a variety of techniques i.e voice and speech, movement etc. At University the contact and face to face time is much less. Drama schools of a certain level have higher profile showcases and therefore more chance of getting signed by a top agent thereafter. Part of the remit of a university student is research and self-learning. This is very difficult in terms of the core fundamentals but not impossible. I feel the tide is turning and the days of snobbery towards University graduates as opposed to drama school ones is changing. I have employed both and find little or no difference. Ultimately your training should never end, there are financial and time factors to consider but there are ways to continually improve yourself. Sight read every night, practice cold reads, warm up properly, exercise read and watch plays, work harder.
What do you think about drama school training at current in todays industry?
Like with any training providers some are excellent and others not so much. I would suggest if you are considering the investment in drama school training do your research. Find out what they do and who runs them, who teaches on them, do they have a specific approach and what is it.
How do you think the arts cuts are affecting us? The government are cutting creative subjects in schools and reducing maintenance loans for students, eventually the divide in working class actors and those in a wealthier positions will be wider, do you agree with this?
Yes the gulf is increasing and this is having an adverse reaction to the industry. We need to find a sustainable model, we can’t just throw money at the problem we need to tackle the wider issues and consider funding and application. However there is a real danger of completely shutting out the working class from any form of artistic expression that is not directly relevant to an area of arts funding that needs a box ticking. The industry as a whole needs to examine where money is going and must help create business as well as supporting the unheard voice. Art and finance can co-exist they are not mutually exclusive, my company does not take a penny of public funding we survive via our commercial and creative ability and this is something that perhaps needs looking at and can be taught. Commercial does not mean bad and is often unfairly maligned. The way arts funding is awarded in my opinion needs a serious review to ensure transparency and consistency, the fact that there are specialist form filing producers who’s only task is to decipher funding applications suggests to me that perhaps the applications and requirements are incoherent and therefore not necessarily in every case going to where is best needed. It’s not about putting values on creativity, more considering the needs of larger publicly funded organisations and perhaps helping them diversify their income streams to free much needed money for other causes.
Thank you Adam what a pleasure!!!!!!!!!!
Actors need a wide range of tools and essentials in order to get started and be a working actor. One of the most important things an actor needs is a good headshot, it is what casting directors, agents and employers see first, it is their first impression of you. It needs to be professional, truthful and something that demonstrates you as a person.
Sounds easy right? Wrong. I have had mine done several times over and each time people tell me it doesn’t look like me or I don’t look my age. It is an expensive, yet completely fundamental, task to keep searching and hoping that the next photographer will capture the real you without it being a waste of time.
Therefore, this section will be a monthly aid to point you in the right direction of a professional headshot photographer but at a reasonable price.
If you have an agent, get them to recommend what type of shots they think you should have done. It’s recommended that your headshot be either in colour (unedited) or black and white, as they are the most neutral and natural settings that won’t drastically change how you look; which some filters do. Most agents/photographers would also recommend that you show up with lots of different clothing options so that the photographer can give you different variations.
Alishia Love Headshots
Alicia Love is a competent and professional headshot photographer offering our readers a discount. £125 for:
– 7 retouched images (5 of your choice + 2 of mine)
– Unlimited changes/looks
– Colour & B&W versions of each retouched shot received.
Quote ‘actor awareness’ when booking. 1st November-1st December
Jason Mitchell is a London based photographer with years of experience and a fantastic website ( I have added the link below for you to check out his credentials).
His standard package is £100, and it gives you great quality images for a price that won’t break the bank. Headshots are usually up in the £250 price bracket, and I think Jason’s service for a 1.5hr shoot and 6 final retouched images is brilliant; and the final product is that of someone who charges more than double. He is super friendly and makes you feel super relaxed on set… he’s also a little bit cheeky.