I was 6 years old when I announced to my parents I was going to be an actress. This didn’t surprise them. I’d caught the acting bug after my first lead role - Mary in the School Nativity, naturally. They always took me to weekend drama clubs and summer schools, and when I was 14 I signed with my first agent, who happened to be my drama teacher at the time, and I was auditioning for some pretty big stuff for the BBC and the like throughout my teens. The problem was, my parents didn’t know how to deal with it all and had no idea how to help me, being archaeologists. Acting, archaeology - pretty different, I know! But this was the start from a young age of embarking on one of the hardest careers out there all on my own.
At 17 I auditioned for lots of drama schools, getting recalls for some, and flat-out rejections from most. When I didn’t get in, my parents urged me to go to university and do drama. So off I went, knowing that where I wanted to be most was at drama school. I won’t bore you with my life story, but fast-forward graduating after a pretty frustrating 3 years, I worked as an actress for 2 years (with the office job on the side - got to love the money job!) and then went to do my MA Acting at Arts Educational Schools, London.
I thrived there. It’s where I had desperately wanted to be. But then those doubts sneak in…
‘I didn’t go to RADA though’..
‘Everyone thinks an MA isn’t as well respected as a BA’...
‘No one will want to sign me’...
When you start with the toxic thoughts, you’re in for trouble. Your career is absolutely what you make of it, no matter your training, background, nothing! I am as determined and driven as they come, and I always knew I was going to act. It’s hard to look at your life and career and go ‘wow, you know what, well done girl’. We do that self-deprecating thing of undermining our accomplishments when actually we should be proud. And there’s a difference between being proud of yourself and being arrogant. But be proud of where you are and what you’re doing! It can so often seem like you’re not doing much when you’re not on Game of Thrones or in the West End. Every actor gets asked if they’ve been on Eastenders yet at a family gathering.
But I have to remind myself of my own accomplishments sometimes - that I filmed a feature film, playing the lead, while training, and it aired on TV last summer. That I filmed my first TV role for ITV that aired in the States last November. That in April I went to LA for a month, fulfilling a life long dream of going out there to see about working, and signing with a manager. That I have just finished a sell out, 5* run of an immersive show and have worked constantly in the industry since I graduated nearly 3 years ago. All of that I have done myself. My parents have been incredibly emotionally supportive of me, but that’s the only support they could give. This has all been off my own back. Off pure passion and love for what I do. And let me tell you, if I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT TOO!
Acting is one of the most rewarding, exciting, ridiculously fun, challenging, wonderful professions out there. It is also one of the most disappointing, frustrating, disheartening and difficult. But luckily, the good outweighs the bad - if you make it so. This is something you have to trust me on. If you love acting as much as I always have, you make it happen no matter your background, social status, financial status, pressures from family members, or even fear. Passion for what you love will always win. I remember being about 11 and playing an imagination game with my friend - mums and dads or something like that - and I just stopped dead in my tracks and thought ‘I never want to stop playing’. And I haven’t. Acting to me is one big game, and the second you lose the fun is the second it isn’t ever worth it as a career any more. So keep playing! And for the love of God, please believe in yourself. Because self belief is the way you will get yourself through the bad times, and past the financial or family pressures. Believe that if you want to act as much as you do that you WILL make it!
From my experience, there is no right way in this business. A lot comes down to being in the right place at the right time, but your passion and drive will get you so far.
You are the creator of your own destiny, so go out there and show the world what you’re made of.
More of Phoebe:
Comedy Reel: https://vimeo.com/163091676