How often do you torture yourself with this statement? Actor, Georgia Tuohey talks candidly about her struggles with and ultimately liberation from knowing she won’t create her own work.
If you aren’t in constant demand, then of course making your own work as any kind of artist is a given. There’s a sense of entitlement that can often be found in the industry with people believing they have a right to a place on the stage and screen. Without endless work ethic and personal efforts, you are just another brick in the wall. Recently, there are more and more actors and creatives, taking the reigns and developing their own work in pursuit of their goals, which is a brilliant and highly admirable process, but what about the many other brilliant talents, who do have the work ethic, but for whatever reason, simply don’t take this step?
The first thing I remember from my time in training as an actor, was the ‘reality drilling’; the endless reminder that some people will work immediately upon graduating, whereas others may not work for months or even years, and the people who you least expect will go from job to job. Nothing like a bit of good, positive, reality drilling.
Creating our own work was a big chunk of our training, which was invaluable and liberating. We had to undertake heavy research, find an argument, develop our play andonce complete, each performed a mini festival of new writing. This was daunting, but the creative satisfaction was brilliant. Come graduation though, the little bubble of zip zap boing suddenly pops and reality hits. You know the drill: find an agent and maintain living costs – regardless of your location. Although the North of England (where I am based) is notoriously cheaper – property wise, most actors still need to work every hour so they can eat, leaving little time to generate creativity, let alone make their own work. This isn’t even considering having to pay top whack train fares to get to any auditions in London.
The ‘make your own work’ phrase sort of frightens me now. As a hard-working actress, I like to think I am in good spirits about the inevitable highs and lows of the industry – most of the time. I’m currently living in a grey space, floating somewhere in the middle of ‘go and make your own work’ and ‘I don’t want to make my own work. I want to concentrate on all the things I love the most, like comedy acting, reading plays, audition technique and singing. Does this mean I don’t qualify as a true artist and I’m closing myself off to new opportunities?
As actors, we should probably find our performance skills are transferable to paper and be able to write stories as well as tell them. Right? Absolutely! Some of us, but not everyone, has a playwright within them and I’m starting to feel like if I don’t make my own work, I can’t be a proper actor. I personally, am no playwright and have no current desire to be one. I am aware I don’t possess the enviable skill of creating amazing characters and placing them within a fantastic story, I’m also aware that I don’t have enough time to give myself (for free) to work on something that is probably going to be basic at best. I need to be earning money to plough into the skills I do have.
Not all actors are able to make their own work. There is a heck of a lot of time, development and money that is required to develop a knock ‘em dead show. Since leaving drama school, I went down the route of trying to write my own scripts and stories because that is what you are encouraged to do throughout your training. I read endless articles online and watched other actors on YouTube talking about creating something of your own, that if the job isn’t there for you, go and create your own – that sort of thing.
Making your own work is undeniably, a fantastic process and skill that will set you apart from the rest in this very competitive industry and I salute anyone doing just that. However, if this is something you are not passionate about, then please don’t feel like you are some sort of bad artist or that your career won’t take off because you don’t want to write a script.
Taking control instead of waiting for the phone to ring, enrols you into the 1% who know it’s not just going to fall from the clouds. ‘Making your own work’ can come in the form of so many different things: writing a blog post or online content and expressing your knowledge for your field, uploading singing videos to Instagram orbeing the best acting podcaster, are all ways of creating your own work. It is far more beneficial and positive to focus on our strengths and execute on those things, rather than clutching at others because we feel we should. There are a million ways to do it, sofind your ‘different’, keep running with it and don’t look back.