Where are you from Jennifer?
Originally born in Germany, raised and schooled bil-lingually, including in the Far-East. I now consider myself a TCK (third culture kid) and consider London and the arts scene my home.
You've already had a varied career but you started out as a performer, training at Mountview. How did it prepare you for the future and what are the challenges that performance graduates face entering the profession these days?
I believe drama school gives you the kind of all-around grounding which prepares you for anything. 9am starts with 150 push ups, 150 sit ups, 14 hour days with non stop rehearsals and also the emotional pressure of constantly pushing your own boundaries emotionally and physically gives you a unique outlook on life and any kind of profession you may enter. Drama schools also force you to think outside your comfort zone and multi-task, which is an important life skill that is a strong requirement in the current world of credit crunches and constantly having to reinvent yourself to succeed.
You're presenting a session from The Stage Events called 'Graduate essentials: how to launch your career'. What are you going to be talking about?
I’ll start with a general overview of what agents and casting directors currently require in terms of photos, letters, audition etiquette etc based on a survey I conducted among top industry professionals.
I’ll provide a view on current trends in the industry and how best to find your own niche and know how to sell yourself.
I’ll also give advice relating to finances ( how to afford being an actor with all the required outgoings and rising prices in London), personal growth, building a business and personal support network and generally how to stay in the arts long-term, how to multi task and push your versatility boundaries.
Why did you decide to write your book 'So you want to tread the boards'?
Tread the boards is an accumulation and summary of all the questions I was constantly being asked by young actors starting out at various levels in their career - and also all the questions I myself found it difficult to find answers to when I was starting out. Particularly for those just graduating, you feel like you're being dropped into a great pool of unknown circumstances and situations - training can only prepare you in certain ways. Tread the boards gives a lot of practical, straight forward guidance and answers even the "stupidest" of questions. It is also a safe learning environment and an a-z of the profession in its rawest and most honest form.
You review student showcases for The Stage. What have you learnt from watching them?
As a reviewer, you learn how to assess actors completely unknown to you very quickly (up to 50 graduates in a one hour showcase) without being negative or destructive but rather, picking up on the highlights and saleable skills of each individual. Speaking to agents, casting directors and other industry professionals before and after each showcase gives me a unique insight into the profession's general view on new graduates, how they fit into the industry, what areas of concern are and most of all, how graduates are most likely to make an impression on those key figures in a difficult job market.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have been fortunate that there have been many different types of highlights - performing with and learning from those at the top of their profession at the Royal Albert Hall for example. My work with The Stage in all its forms has been a definitive highlight, as has of course having Tread the boards published. I think the true highlight of my career is working with inspiring people of all kinds and that it is so versatile and I am able to cover such a wide variety of different creative fields which all complement each other with my skill set and experience.
What are your own career goals?
As much as I love performing, I feel like my main vocation is now writing. I am a member of the West End Chorus though and would like to continue to sing as part of that for charity and good causes - and to keep my unique two side of the fence view. I believe it is important as a critic and arts writer to see the profession from as many angles as possible to give as full-rounded a view as possible. And I also still regularly train in dance and singing as I enjoy it too much to give it up and it has become part of my habitual lifestyle. However professionally, I would like to focus on being an arts critic in the widest sense, newspaper feature writer, arts correspondent, workshop leader (particularly for graduates as they are in many ways the most vulnerable part of the business) interviewer of arts figures in a live stage and/or studio environment - and also write more books. I have completed a novel aimed at the teenage market with a performing arts setting which is currently being reviewed by publishers. I would also like to work more in casting and possibly producing. I am very open to any and all opportunities that come my way because you never know what might suddenly click and become your specific niche.
What was the last thing you saw at the theatre?
Apart from many of this season's drama school showcases, Singing in the Rain at the Palace Theatre.
Thanks for your time Jennifer. Find out more about The Stage Events by visiting their directory page below.