I want to talk to you
Soph! You are about to graduate from Drama School. Soon you will be, or at least expected to be, a ‘professional actor’ or is it actress? What do you want to be called? Don’t worry about it too much now, you are about to enter a world where the labels you give yourself won’t mean anything to anyone except yourself.
Your own work
You’re going to make your first solo show this year. Trust Jade Eriksen when she asks you to “get in the cupboard and just see what happens.” Your character is in there. The little Irish scullery maid who dreams of going to Paris lives in that tallboy cupboard you bought from the tip shop. You may not make your own work for a long time after this, not because you are scarred by the first experience but because you will find yourself relishing the experiences you will have of bringing other people’s characters and words to life.
Be grateful for opportunities
Take opportunities with an open and grateful mind. Back yourself. There is no shame in stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing something different. It is how you will be able to pay your bills. Be the audition reader, the casting assistant, the nanny, the runner, you are going to love working full time at The ProActors Agency, teach, tutor, run workshops, you will be beyond exhausted a lot of the time, but you will survive.
I’m sorry sweetheart but your skin is going to be a constant issue for you. You are going to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on it. You are going to cry over it BUT, it’s not going to stop you from getting work and it is going to elicit some incredible kindness from make-up artists for the rest of your career.
Sophie Hambleton in A Doll’s House, Circa 2017. Photo by Paul McLaughlin
Never feel guilty about sitting with your female friends drinking coffee, herbal tea or wine (lots and lots of red wine) and talking. Vent your soul out to them. Rant to them. Cry in front of them. Listen to them. These friends will be with you for the next 13 years in counting… You’ll meet a lot of them through the work you do, which is one of the greatest blessings of this career path you have chosen.
People are never who you think they are
People are going to constantly surprise you, delight you and infuriate you. Some people are going to take a chance on you, and you are not going to disappoint them. Heather O’Carroll is going to gift you 70 minutes of golden, flea-bitten joy, Conrad Newport is going to ask you to wear a wild ginger wig and you’re going to go a little mad in a Dunedin winter as you start to believe that maybe you are Janet Frame. Shane Bosher is going to make you wear the most unglamorous of costumes but cast you in roles that feed your creative soul. You’re going to audition for Kathy McRae’s short film and that is going to lead you into one of the most creatively fulfilling relationships over several more projects (in counting.)
Just get yourself to where you need to be
You do actually know what you’re doing but you don’t have all the answers. In a few years you are going to be driving yourself from Wellington to Auckland for the umpteenth time, most of your worldly possessions in the back, listening to Tina Fey’s audiobook and you’ll have to pull over as you sob into a petrol station latte. It’s going to be OK babe, just get yourself to where you need to be, get there on time and remember to find out where the toilets are.
Sophie Hambleton will be performing in A Doll’s House in Dunedin (Regent Theatre) on 6th – 7th September, Nelson (Theatre Royal) on 10th September and Hamilton (Clarence Street Theatre) on 14th September.