Photo credit: Anthony Farrimond Photography
Amy Blake is a twenty-three year-old Sheffield based actor, currently working in theatre, film, TV, radio, circus and voice over. She graduated with a first class honours degree in Performance for Stage and Screen in 2018 and is now working full-time in the theatre industry. SHU Performance caught up with Amy to find out about what she’s been doing since leaving Sheffield Hallam University.
SHU Performance: Hi Amy, great to see you! Perhaps you could begin by telling our readers a bit about yourself.
Amy: Aside from acting, my interests include animal rights activism, live music and travel. My favourite pastime is seeing theatre, I usually attend two or more shows in a given week; I think this is absolutely imperative for anyone who wants to work in the industry, and I’m an expert at finding affordable tickets! My favourite show of 2018 was Christopher York’s Build a Rocket, which I caught on a whim at The Pleasance in September. In 2019, I aim to improve my piano/keyboard skills to a standard where I can be subbed for actor-muso castings and to continue evolving my career.
SHU Performance: We hear you’ve been working full time as a professional actor since graduating in 2018. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Amy: Yes, I’m a full time actor working in all related fields (except for musical theatre). This entails stage, screen, commercials, tours, roleplay, R&D, immersive, corporate, workshops and audio amongst other disciplines. This generally means a lot of plate spinning (sometimes literally).
SHU Performance: Your work sounds really varied and interesting, what does it involve day-to-day?
Amy: My main duties include corresponding with my agent regarding castings, preparing audition speeches and sides (or whatever has been requested by the Casting Director), recording and submitting self tapes, attending auditions and callbacks, and all of this comes before the actual rehearsals and performances/shoots.
SHU Performance: There is clearly a lot more to working in the industry than just acting. What advice would you give to other aspiring performers?
Amy: To be an actor you really do have to live and breathe it. It sounds ridiculously cringe, but I’ve never heard anything more true. The motivation and drive required to keep pushing through one of the most competitive industries in the world is draining, and the only way that can ever be worth it is if you are 100% confident that there’s nothing else in the world you would rather be doing. Nothing can be more important.
SHU Performance: It sounds more like a calling than a job. What’s the one thing you’d recommend that other actors in training do in order to succeed?
Amy: You have to set yourself apart from others; always be the hardest worker in the room, always be early, always be prepared (know your lines backwards, but be ready to change at the drop of a hat). Don’t waste your student loan on nights out or holidays; buy good, professional headshots, get Spotlight and Equity, get a showreel. You need to be ready to work professionally when you graduate otherwise you’ll need to pay for all of these things later which will require a separate income, and then you risk being unavailable for auditions.
SHU Performance: What’s the number one thing that you learned during your time studying Performance for Stage and Screen here at Sheffield Hallam University?
Amy: SHU Performance taught me that Performance isn’t just proscenium arch, Stanislavski theatre. I learnt such a vast pool of skills, tailored by a huge range of practitioners, all of which I have now brought together, cutting and pasting the best bits from every single one to create the method I approach projects with today. It’s something that is continuously evolving.
SHU Performance: It’s good to know that you’re time with us has been such a big part of your professional development. If you could come back and study with us again, what would you do differently?
Amy: I’m really happy with everything I achieved whilst training at SHU Performance, I feel that I took every opportunity by the horns and I wouldn’t change a thing... Except, I would take advantage of theatre tickets earlier (through Ignite at Sheffield Theatres).
SHU Performance: What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced since graduating?
Amy: The ongoing challenge in this industry is always having to juggle work and hustle to ensure that the bills are paid without ever having to work in any other field. Of course, lots of actors do work in other fields, they call them “muggle jobs”, or day jobs, and I’m sure different things work for different people. For me personally, muggle work is a no-go. Knowing that I need to book a job and don’t have a back up plan is the best motivation ever and hasn’t steered me wrong yet - but again, everyone has different opinions and experiences of this. You’ve got to do what’s right for you!
SHU Performance: It sounds like always being on the lookout for the next job is a big part of what you have to do in order to make it as a professional actor. What do you have lined up in the coming months?
Amy: At the moment I’m working on a TV comedy and a children’s radio play. I’m also auditioning regularly for new projects and am hoping to work on some Shakespeare this year as well as some working class-representative regional theatre.
It sounds like you’re going to be incredibly busy. We’ll be watching out for you on the TV! What are you ambitions for the future?
All I really hope for is that I will continue to work and be fortunate enough to avoid working in any other field.
Thanks for talking to us Amy. Best of luck with the upcoming shows!
Amy Blake is finishing off the 2018/19 tour of Average Joe in March. Her most recent film wrapped last month, My Life in UK, and is being released later this year. Her most recent theatre piece, Wish Upon a Star with The Bakehouse Factory Theatre ran throughout November and December 2018.
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