It’s exactly one year since I first had the idea to start a podcast, interviewing actors in the hope of getting honest answers about the more difficult parts of the job. After a difficult 18 months with little in the way of acting work, I’d just received a cheque for a voiceover I’d done the previous year, and decided to put the money to good use. And by ‘good use’, I mean as an alternative to paying the numerous bills that were then outstanding.

One year on from the arrival of that cheque, and the beginnings of an idea, it’s time to take stock and prepare for change…

365 days ago, The Honest Actors Podcast & Blog did not exist. It didn’t even have a name. There was no equipment, no website and definitely no theme tune. There was nothing beyond a rough idea for a show centred on honest conversations with other actors, some encouraging words from a radio and television producer from home that I’ve known for years, and the unwavering positivity of a very close actor friend (who also happens to be my wife).

A few days after the cheque landed on our doormat, the equipment started to arrive: a microphone from Bristol, a digital recorder from Hong Kong and enough Amazon boxes to make me wonder if I’d overdone it. With a week or two, iTunes approved the listing and the first audio was online – a brief 5 minute intro in which I roughly outlined what the hell I intended to do (I’ve included at the bottom of this post, if you’re interested).

podcast gearMarch 6th 2015: within a week, the equipment had arrived.

Within a month, there were two teasers, I had 250 listeners, and Equity were behind it, offering the free use of space at Guild House in which to record interviews. Within six months, all twelve teaser episodes were live, the number of regular listeners had quadrupled to over 1000 and even though I was sensing the momentum build, I had no idea just how big the project was going to become. Just over six months later, on my birthday, I launched it with two full episodes and by the time I’d woken up on my first full day as a thirty-six year old, it was in the Top 20 Performing Arts podcasts on iTunes, alongside content from the BBC, the Guardian and the National Theatre.

One year on, and just five months since launching at the end of September, we’re up to episode 13, the podcast has been downloaded in excess of 75,000 times (in over 50 countries) and has a perfect 5* rating on iTunes. In addition to the continued support of Equity, it is also being recommended to acting students at RADA, LAMDA, and as far afield as New York University. The blog, a platform I created for actors to start and have more honest conversations about important issues such as mental health and disability, has been shortlisted for two UK Blog Awards. Regardless of what happens at the ceremony in April, to even be on those lists after less than a year in existence, is something I’m very proud of.

The response to the project as a whole has been overwhelming. Since day one, I’ve regularly been receiving messages from other actors who say it’s had a positive impact on their lives. That sounds very grand, but it’s that sort of project. Taken as a whole, it’s 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.

One year on, and I feel that there is an audience who want and need The Honest Actors Project. With them in mind, I would love to take this to the next level. I’d love to start releasing new episodes weekly. I’d love to open the project out and start interviewing not just actors, but directors, producers and casting directors. I’d love to find a way to give voice to younger and less experienced actors. And I’d love to start having occasional round-table discussions, live events and maybe even occasionally filming them…

One year on, a huge announcement is coming. Tomorrow, 10:30am GMT. Don’t miss it: join the mailing list to get the news first. And please do share this article to help me get the word out there! Oh, and here’s that very first intro…

UPDATE: You can read the announcement and find out how to help #savehonestactors here.

Jonathan Harden
Actor. VO. Director. Former barman, waiter, cook, labourer, 'tugger', security guard, dish washer, removals man, bouncer, office manager, Wendy's 'Crew Member', Costa 'barista', snooker table maintenance guy, shop assistant, usher, boom op, golf buggy driver, and one-time pretend bank robber. Started this thing thinking nobody would listen.