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The Last Five Years

August 7, 2012

Hola Senorita! (I’m in Mexico)

Right now, you’re probably sitting at your desk in London at the e-commerce designer fashion company office where you work, triple-checking an Excel spreadsheet of stats on ‘Prada’ handbags. There will be times when you wonder why you didn’t stay there and take the position of fashion buyer, flying to Italy every month, earning a steady income and rocking a suitably enviable wardrobe (PS, take more advantage of the staff discount).

You’ll be pleased to know that at some point next year, you’ll come to your senses and those 3 years of professional musical theatre training will not have been a waste of the government’s money (You will book your first tour before you have even worked your notice.) However, don’t take the apartment in Ladbroke Grove, it’s a health hazard and the landlord is a ‘scheming toe-rag’ as Dad would say. Plus, you will have some unpleasant altercations with mice! Also, don’t accumulate too much ‘stuff.’ You have relocated from Kent to London, to South Carolina, to New York to LA and moving never gets easier!

Unfortunately, a horrendous break-up is on the cards, consequently forcing you to watch every single episode of ‘Sex and the City’ and listen to Kate Nash on repeat for hours……he’s REALLY not worth it. However, this will indirectly lead you to the US where you will marry an American clown-turned-producer (I’m not making this up).

The best advice I can give you is a quote I found in a gift from your future mother-in-law:

‘Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.’ Ella Fitzgerald.

As a performer, you will have to be bi-polar. One day you will face rejection and feel helpless, doubting your talent, questioning your life choices and ready to give up on the dream. The next day you will have to put it all behind you and be prepared for the next audition; motivated, self-assured and inspired. From experience I can tell you that only hard work and perseverance pay off. There will always be another audition and another job that you are perfect for, you just have to stay in the game.

There will be times when you feel you are living as a means to an end, but it will be worth it in the long run. Strike a balance between living and just surviving. Take a deep breath, focus on what you really want to achieve, take the classes, attend the workshops, and go to the seminars. Save money when you can but spend it on things that you love, learn to pack a suitcase well (you will tour and work in the UK, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Holland, Canada and the US), invest in a singing coach (you will book musical theatre shows, but you will struggle with learning music) and don’t be afraid of casting directors (they will remember you, believe in you and attending an audition will never be a waste of time).

As a warning, you will live in cities ripe with opportunity and yet you will have never doubted yourself so much in your entire life. They will have the potential to make your dreams come true but also highlight how far away they really are. They will open new avenues and yet the roads might not lead to where you originally wanted to go. They will give you the right connections and yet there will always be another fence to climb.

At times you will endure tedious survival jobs and despair at not having booked a show and then, suddenly, you will book 2 shows that overlap so you have to choose the best deal! You will be discouraged by the difficulty of joining a union, burning holes in holding room floors for hours……and then be able to join 3 unions in one year. Learn that streamlined, specific, focused submissions are 10 times better than mass mailings. This will help you sign with the best dance agent in the country when you least expect it (and obviously at the one time when you’re booked for the rest of the year!).

You are writing this from your hotel room in Guadalajara, Mexico on a day off from ‘The Illusionists’ which is currently the best-selling illusion show in the US.

Feel grateful for everything that has brought you this far, relish in the ride (and take more photos) but also continue to chase the ultimate dream. Now it is so close that you can taste it.

Oh, and that premonition you had about being on Law and Order ……you’ve been an extra on it 5 times!

Love n lollipops,

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