I initially resisted acting because there are many actors in my family, so I studied politics at university instead.
This didn’t last though and in my mid-twenties I went to drama school, which was useful as I felt it gave me a more balanced perspective of the industry. Since then I have done a wide range of work in film, TV, radio and in the West End, where I performed in a production of 12 Angry Men directed by Harold Pinter. I’ve done documentaries, narration and voice over work. I’m also fluent in French so have participated in some French productions. After I moved to Bristol, I started a secondary career as a role player in public and private companies, which I still do for universities. I want to do more writing now and look forward to attending the Write that book workshop when it next runs.
What do you like most about your work?
I like the creative element of working together - that communal creativity where you are bouncing ideas off each other. I particularly enjoy the rehearsal process, collaboration with the team rather than a more self-centred approach is what really interests me.
What are the biggest challenges of maintaining a freelance career?
There can be a real sense of isolation as a freelance. All your decisions are your own and you create your own work. Maintaining energy and focus can be tough. This is why the FEU Training workshops are so good. You come along, meet other people in a similar position, realise you are not alone and set off again refocussed and enthusiastic.
Have you added new skills to your portfolio over time?
New skills include learning to approach people for work, doing interviews and composing more effective emails. I’ve had to find ways to improve how I use social media and just generally secure new business. The workshops have really helped me sharpen up my approach in all of this.
What is the biggest challenge of learning the skills that you need?
As you get older it can be tough keeping an open mind and not thinking you know everything. Having confidence can be a double-edged sword - you have to believe you know enough to put yourself forward but it’s important to remain open to learning too. There is always more to learn. Learning to use social media well has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced.
What FEU Training courses have you attended?
- Finance for freelances
- Developing Assertiveness
- Running a successful social media campaign
- Creative Productivity
What are the most important things that you’ve learned?
I’ve gained so much from the workshops including how to be more business minded about my work. They have really helped me maintain my focus in terms of using available tools such as having a good website and building a social media presence. I have learned to organise my thoughts in a more useful way in many areas, which I have discovered is often about managing your state of mind. Another useful aspect of the workshops is the social element and learning to interact more effectively with other people. I have definitely improved the way I approach people and how I present myself. My listening skills have also improved. I feel I have more of a game plan on my career now and a sense of progression on where I want to go. The workshops have given me pointers that have helped set a clearer direction in how to look after my career and what to aim for in future. They have really spurred me on and inspired me to continue freelancing. I wish I had had this help in the early days.
What has encouraged you to attend FEU Training sessions?
I first learned about the workshops through an Equity article. The inclusivity of the workshops with such a broad range of ages is very beneficial. Everyone from all sorts of creative areas are in a similar situation and I have gained lots from speaking to people from the other unions. Frances does an incredible job, I really admire how she runs this. The range of tutors is brilliant, which is great and there is a good variety of subjects and issues that are tackled. You always know that there will be something you can choose to attend or access online.
Do you know any other organisation that offers business skills courses for creative?
This blog first appeared on the FEU Training website.