Ah, the holiday season is upon us. Time to relax, unwind and gorge ourselves silly on absolutely anything with an abnormally high number of calories that is festively shaped like a Christmas tree. Its a time to spend with the ones you love. You gather around the table, place your paper crown on your head and as you raise that first soggy sprout to your mouth your Nan leans over and asks ‘So when are you going to be in Eastenders, then?’. Sound familiar? Thought so. 

I’ve been working (inconsistently) in the industry for two years now, and moments like this can make “emerging” in the industry feel suffocating and at your lowest points, pointless. You lie awake at night asking yourself why you’re not further ahead? Is it my haircut? Maybe I need new headshots? Or perhaps I should jack it all in and run off to a remote farm in Sweden to live a more peaceful existence? We’ve all been there. 

But we soldier on. Because we love it, and when its good, its glorious! I’ve learned a lot since moving to London in 2016 to give the acting a proper whack, and so I’m going to share my top lessons with you lovely lot. This is NOT a how-to on becoming a big shot in the industry, just a handful of survival tips that I wish someone had given me when I started out.

1 – R-E-S-P-E-C-T E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E

Tom Hardy said he was raised ‘to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO’, and that’s the way it should be! Whenever you’re working, be kind and respectful to everyone on the project. Learn everyone’s name and take an interest in them. Everyone is there to do a job, they’re not there for you. If you’re kind and respectful you can’t go wrong, but people remember when someone acts like an arsehole. Also, its nice to be nice isn’t it. So to summarise? Don’t be an arsehole, be excellent to each other. Always. 

2 – R-E-S-P-E-C-T Yourself

As actors, our bodies are our tools. YOU are your greatest strength, both physically and emotionally, so show yourself some respect! Look after your body and your mind so that when that audition pops up, you’re ready to tackle the technical stuff head on. Personally, I find yoga and meditation both really help me to not only keep both of these areas in check, but also help to keep my mind and body working healthily together. I’m not saying don’t go for that bottomless Prosecco brunch with your mates, I’m just suggesting you drink lots of water alongside it. Its all about balance. Also if you’re having a bad day, don’t try and fight it. Give yourself a time frame in which to feel sorry for yourself. If you were always upbeat, that would make you a robot…or an unconvincing actor. Don’t fight your emotions, feel them and then move on. 

Respect yourself, because you’re brilliant. 

3 – Stay Active

We’ve all heard the analogy that acting is like a muscle, you have to keep that muscle working to see your progress. Now, there’s the obvious examples of going to the theatre/cinema/enrolling in workshops to keep you going, but we all know that these aren’t always viable options *cough cough, no money or time*. So what are the things I do for free to make me feel like I’m still an actor? I google my favourite theatres to see what’s coming up in their next season and write a list of the shows that I want to see, so I can book tickets when payday comes. It helps me to stay excited about the industry and allows me to see what kind of work is popular in the venues I aspire to work in. Another favourite is to learn a monologue just for the hell of it. You never know when you’re going to need a monologue in your back pocket! Also, we all have smart phones. Stop scrolling through your mates’ latest headshots album and work on your camera technique. Remember, practise makes perfect…ish.

 4 – Become a Cheerleader

…Not literally, but for your peers. If you’re anything like me, a large percentage of your friendship group also work in the creative industry. This can be a double edged sword as you have a support network who understands your woes, but when one of you gets a job, you can’t hep but feel that twinge of jealousy. That’s ok. You’re a human being with feelings, that’s going to happen. But you must remember that their success does not indicate your a failure. This industry is bloody hard so celebrate in each others achievements! Share news! If one of your friends gets a job, then that’s a win for the team! Find happiness in their happiness. And don’t worry, your turn will come.

5 – Have a Kit-Kat

This is not an ad, its just a fun way for me to tell you to give yourself a break. If you were driving a car at 100 miles an hour all the time, you would end up in A&E. So why do we think that grafting 24/7 is going to be any different? Feel free to switch off when you need to. Having a bath and binging a full season of ‘Big Mouth’ in one evening will not damage your career. Do what you need to do to remain sane: ring your mum, go to the pub, read a book (NOT a play) and indulge in other interests! You never know when your fascination with Ancient Greek pottery or your ability to bake the perfect banana bread will come in handy. Be a person, not an actor.

If you’re still reading this, then thank you! As I said at the top, these are just tips I’ve picked up along the way that I wish someone had said to me when I was starting out. Feel free to use or discard as you wish. And if you fancy a chat, drop me a message on twitter! 

Stay Excellent.

Series 3 of the podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast. Episodes already released feature full-length interviews with Adrian Lester, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Riley, Kate Fleetwood, Sarah Ball and Jonjo O’Neill. Click here to listen!

Series 1 & 2 are also available free, along with a special live episode for Equity recorded in November 2018, and follow-up inteaviews with all seven of the emerging actors, conducted in October. Go have a listen

Louise Waller

Actor/Actress/Writer/Cats Mother/Liability/Award-Winning user of the forward slash.