This post is me being the Devil’s Advocate, I don’t completely agree with what I’m about to write but I think that it’s an important thing to explore. This is also kind of UK based, not sure it it’s the same elsewhere in the world but I’m going to stick with what I know, it’s also based on being a teenager/finishing secondary school- it still applies if you’re older but stick with me for now.
So, you’ve gotten past the first hurdle and gotten into drama school… here’s why you shouldn’t go.
The first thing that you need to know about drama school is that it will train you as an actor.
And only as an Actor.
Okay, so maybe your singing will get better- and you might learn a few dance moves, but you’ll be an Actor and nothing else. Now, I know that you think this sounds great and fabulous because it’s all you want to do, but bear with me a second.
What if you quite like writing or producing or directing? Well drama school isn’t going to train you in any of that, and during your three years you won’t have any time to pursue these interests, you’re about to attend a proper, full on course. Drama school isn’t at all like university, it’s all day every day with no exceptions. You’ll be pushed to your limits and well past them frequently.
Being trained as an actor is great, but you’ll probably only spend around twelve weeks a year actually working as one… if you’re lucky. So you’re going to have to spend the rest of your time stacking shelves or waiting tables. Personally this is where I draw the line, I’m a creative person and that creativity has outlets other than acting.
I’ve had a little experience of the industry as it is and I can tell you that it’s not pretty if you want to make a name for yourself and keep your head above water then you need to be clever. I was in an audition room recently where we were discussing sleeping your way to the top, one girl was completely shocked about the whole thing and angrily demanded that getting parts should be based on merit and that she’d never fuck someone for a part.
There was a strange look that passed around the others of us in the room- it was a sort of ‘she’ll never survive in this industry’ look. Now, I’m not saying that it’s common practise to sleep with people for parts! (I can almost see the angry comments already…) I’m just saying that it’s not about acting ability, there are plenty of talented young actresses out there, it’s about NETWORKING.
And yes, that’s unfair- but since when has the world ever been fair? This industry is brutal and if you’re going to be in it then you have to accept that and learn how to work with it, because whilst in other areas of life fighting against things like this works, it won’t here. You have to go with the flow until you’re big enough to fight against it.
Drama school will give you these connections, yes, but it’s not the only way to get them. Good old fashioned networking can work wonders.
I was recently talking to someone (and she isn’t the only person to say this to me) who said that she’d rather work with someone who’d been to university and done a drama degree than someone who’d been to drama school. She said that drama school actors could be a nightmare to work with, that they were rigid in what they did whereas university trained actors were more fluid, imaginative and had more respect for those who they worked with. I’m obviously not making blanket assumptions here- I know lots of lovely people who have been to drama school- but it is a point that drama school training can be rigid and beat the creativity out of potential actors.
The way that the industry’s going if you want to be an actor then you need to stand out- you need to be an individual and be diverse, drama school will only teach you to be an actor, nothing else. They will tell you to wait tables and pull pints inbetween jobs- and I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that you should have to settle for that, a producer recently said to me that when he started producing he suddenly started getting offers for acting jobs- all because people got to know who he was and that he was easy to work with.
One of the most important things to remember and the piece of advice that I hope you come away from this article with is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Getting into drama school is the head start out of the blocks- but it’s the start of fifty or so years of hard work. Pace yourself, take a deep breath and plan, plan, plan!
It’s cruel industry- it’s based on how you look and who you know… oh, and a hell of a lot of luck.
However it’s also a career that will leave you more fulfilled than anything else- but I don’t need to tell you that.
Thanks for reading,
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