- To break down barriers and talk honestly about what it's like to be a part of our vast industry
- To connect with people and gain a better understanding of the different departments
- To provide a safe space for people to ask questions and be curious
Regardless of whether it's a good day or bad day, I feel extremely lucky to be doing something I love. At 16, I'd sit up till the wee hours of the morning watching behind the scenes videos of shows and movies. It fascinated and amazed me that for all those crew members and actors, that was their day to day job. Every day they woke up, went to work (aka a set?!) and that was their norm, I couldn't believe how lucky they were. I held all of those people on a pedestal. They lived in a fast paced, glamorous and exciting world that was far away from my reality which was living in the countryside and figuring out which A Levels I was going to pick.
I never thought that seven years later, I'd end up working in the midst of it all with those people I so looked up to. I still do look up to them and think they're wonderful, but I've come to realise that they're also just human beings like the rest of us. That world wasn't so far away after all.
In my own experience, I've found a lot of the 'magic' to be exactly that. An illusion carefully sculpted to come across as perfect. Those behind the scenes videos are set up and produced and edited just like any other show or movie. The interviews I used to think were so natural and casual, were also set up with studio lighting and edited to shape the narrative they wanted to tell.
What we do, is a hell of a lot of fun, but it's also really hard work. It's insanely long hours and constantly being away from home. Living out of a hotel room isn't all that Zack and Cody made it seem and the glitz and glam that people associate our job with, in my experience, has been about 1% of the journey so far. It can put strain on relationships, friendships, family life and the schedule is constantly changing so you can give up any hope of confidently committing to a plan. It's fast paced and as I'm still just starting out, every job has a whole load of people I've never met before. The first few weeks feels like I'm back at school trying to figure out who to sit with at lunch. There's a hierarchy that I don't fully understand yet, every call sheet / schedule has its own unique format with shorthand that I'm not always familiar with so it can feel like trying to read a foreign language. Every job is different, every crew is different, every cast is different so you better learn to adapt fast. And just as you begin to feel at ease, wrap is in two weeks and then there's unemployment for the foreseeable future. Who knows when the next job is? You can do a hundred self tapes and not book anything. There's a lot of self doubt, there's a lot of pressure, there's a lot of rejection and there's a lot of people going for one role. You wonder if it's actually all worth it?
Then a global pandemic hits and you're forced to stop working. Everyone in the world has to readjust and you realise that now you're not physically allowed to go to work and you're not sure when you will be allowed back, just how much you miss it and how much you love it. There's no way you'd voluntarily give it all up.
I've been scared to talk about the reality for fear of sounding ungrateful but when I reach out to people in our industry, most of the time, the response is, "I feel exactly the same". I want to make those kind of conversations less taboo, I want to break down barriers and invite people from all over the show (pun not attended but appreciated as always) to join in. Let us know your thoughts, any questions you may have, anything you'd like to share. Whether you're in the industry or not, let's have a chat!
My name is, Thaddea Graham and I'm an actor.
Born in China, raised in Northern Ireland, trained at ArtsEd, and for the past two years, have been working across the U.K., Czech Republic and New Zealand.