I got the acting bug at a young age and found it to be an excellent outlet for my weird. I was actually quite relieved when I discovered that acting was a thing, for several reasons. The first was that it made much more sense that the people on my favorite TV shows were actors and not people going about their daily lives while sniper-like camera men hid behind their couch/tv/plant and filmed their every move (little did I know this would end becoming a VERY popular method of TV making eventually) and the second was that it made me realize I wasn’t an attention seeking brat for no reason. All those holiday tapes ruined by me screaming ‘FILM ME! FILM ME!’ in the background finally made sense!
My Dad will tell you that acting is in the genes. His genes. He was after all Third Rat in his school production of The Pied Piper and gave such great life to his one epic line “He Went That Way!” that it’s a wonder he didn’t at least get nominated for an Olivier award for it! Cue many years of Dad offering to help with my lines or asking for parts in productions I’m involved in because he was….and don’t forget this now or he will be very offended….THIRD RAT. Not first, not second…THIRD.
I went to acting classes every Saturday and got involved in any theatre production I could. Alas, I was never to have a lead role in the school plays since they were musicals and I have a serious lack of vocal talent, not to mention the paralyzing fear I have of singing in front of people (trust me, if you’ve ever stood next to me during a group rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ you won’t hear a peep). I will rap at the drop of a hat of course, but there wasn’t much call for rapping in My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar. More’s the pity. I think they would have been vastly improved productions with the addition of some Phat Beats!! (I really need to stop, I know).
On the odd occasion that I would book a wee TV role, chances were that the shoot date would fall on a school day. Not really a problem, I was doing OK at school and never suffered for missing the odd day. However, one time I pulled a sickie and was not aware that the shoot was outdoors. And of course it happened to be on the ONE sunny day that England had that year. Cue an epic sunburn on my face and my return to school the next day looking like I spent all day at the beach (which I did) and not at home nursing a mysterious and awful stomach bug. Whoops.
I distinctly remember being told by my careers guidance councilor at high school that I needed to pick a ‘real’ job to focus on. He literally laughed in my face when I said I wanted to be an actress and said ‘no really…what do you want to be’. I want to be an actress you crusty old grumpus!! (God how I wish I’d actually said that). In reality I stubbornly refused to name another career and slinked off to bitch to my friends about him. When I first moved to the US I really wanted to find that teacher and tell him that 10 years later I was in the States working and he could go do something unpleasant to himself. I now realize he was one of the many people that made me want to work harder to prove them wrong. So in actual fact I’d like to find him and thank him now! In hindsight I should have repeated his name along with my other enemies* every night like Arya Stark does….at least then I’d have remembered it.
Despite all the non-believers, there were many people in my childhood who encouraged my dreams. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of me and they’ve put up with some god awful shows that I made them sit through, often dragging my poor brothers along for the ride too. But hey, if it’s in the genes then it’s a family thing right? Which means we all suffer together!
This post was brought to you by Third Rat Productions. A ‘He Went That Way’ original.