Honest Actors Podcast


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‘In anything at the minute?’ – The Honest Actors’ Project

The Honest Actors Project is a targeted initiative aimed at promoting open and honest discussions about the acting profession. It has made top podcast lists on Buzzfeed, The i Paper and The Stage, alongside Wittertainment, WTF with Marc Maron, This American Life, Serial and others.

“Inspirational” – Metro

Soon after launching in September 2015, the show became the UK’s Number 1 Acting Podcast, and is consistently a Top 20 ‘Performing Arts’ Podcast on iTunes, alongside content from the BBC, the Royal Court, the National Theatre and international media outlets. In March 2016, a listener poll showed that 74% of listeners don’t regularly listen to any other acting or industry-related podcasts. Honest Actors’ is a former Metro ‘Podcast of the Week’, and was named a Top 40 Podcast of 2016 by The i, a Top 10 Theatre Podcast by The Stage and one of Buzzfeed’s 27 Podcasts to Listen to in 2017. To date, it’s been downloaded in excess of 250,000 times with episodes regularly played in over 50 countries worldwide.

“It’s a great leveller, something entertaining and inspiring to listen to while you’re staring hopelessly at the wall.” Tom Goodman-Hill (Humans, Mr Selfridge)

More interviews with actors? Yeah. But these are different…

The average interviewee in your average interview is an ‘A-list’ millionaire, and questions therefore focus on celebrity, oft-told anecdotes and imminent releases. These sorts of interviews function largely as escapism, much in the same way as the blockbuster movies they tend to publicise.

“The podcast is insightful and direct, and though honest about the challenges of an actor’s life, still inspiring” Lucy Skilbeck, Director of Actor Training, RADA.

No anecdotes. No escapism. No PR.

For me, what’s more important than the work interviewees are currently doing or have done in the past, is what they do when they’re not working, what they’ve done to pay bills and stay sane between jobs, and what advice they’d give if they could somehow meet their younger selves. And those are the kinds of questions I’m now asking. Interviewees to date include: Noma Dumezweni, Adrian Lester, Tom Goodman-Hill, Joanna Scanlan, Michaela Coel, Sinead Matthews, Amanda Abbington, Denise Gough, Peter McDonald, Jessica Raine, Isaiah Johnson, Tom Riley, Eleanor Matsuura, Joe McGann and Niamh Cusack.

“direct and hugely helpful” The Stage

Taken as a whole, this project is about identification with other actors; a community of experience that sits outside levels of success, age or numbers of Twitter followers. What do we all have in common? That it’s been hard. That we have failed. That we have doubted ourselves. And that we have kept going. Ultimately, I want to contribute to a better standard of mental health among actors. On the way, I’d like to at least make you smile with recognition at the experiences we all have in common.

“The mental health of Equity members is of prime concern to their union so I very much welcome the Honest Actors project as an important new initiative and will follow it with great interest.” Malcolm Sinclair, Equity President

I know what you’re thinking, but relax, this is not a pity party. I’m really just trying to restore balance to the conversations we’re having and hearing about acting. This is about offering actors an insight into shared problems and, potentially, shared solutions.

“In an industry that feeds on the collective anxiety of actors, this project offers something far more positive: an identification of the similarities we all share as we navigate the often tricky paths toward accepting all that comes with our vocation. For that, I am grateful.” Denise Gough (Olivier Award winning actress)

That’s why it has been backed by Equity, won a UK Blog Award within the first year, is being recommended to acting students at RADA, LAMDA, Central, and New York University (NYU), to visitors to the ArtsMinds site, and most recently, has been sponsored by TodayTix and supported by Spotlight.

Next up, I’m hoping it might be recommended by you…

Enjoy the show,

Jonathan Harden

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Photo credit: Ori Jones