There’s nothing quite like stepping into the training room with Both Feet for the very first time, completely unaware of what’s to come and a little bit terrified at the same time. Ironically, that’s just life, isn’t it? After years of hard-work, a lot of tears and discovering who I actually am, I received the email that I’ve wanted for so long offering me a place at drama school. I’d wanted it since being that little eight-teen year old that jumped on a train to Sheffield after a google search of ‘Meisner, Manchester’ in the hopes of keeping up acting classes after leaving sixth form. Out of the sea of links and websites, I was drawn to Both Feet. Either good marketing or just trusting my gut, whatever it was, it was the best decision I could’ve made. I laugh now because I just had no idea of the journey that was in front of me and the friendships and connections that I would form throughout the next few years. And if I could sum it up, I would. But there’s actually not a way to do that. All I know right now, is that Both Feet has made me a better human before anything else. The acting is just a bonus.
It’s taken me ages to think of a way to reflect on my journey to this point now, how can I summarise almost four years with Both Feet without turning it into a novel? Something that changed for me, and is a huge reason why I feel like I got into drama school this year, is that I took ownership of my journey and who I was. That included those years of rejection that I’d put so much shame on. Fuck that. So, let me talk you through all those years of ‘rejections’.
2018. I’d left college with my A-Levels and I’d began working a full time job to appease my parents and I honestly had no idea what I was doing. After searching on google for ‘acting classes in Manchester’ ‘Meisner Manchester’, Both Feet appeared and I signed myself up. I walked into the room at 18, no idea what Meisner actually was, and was met by Steph. A smiley, bold and lovely woman who told me all about her morning poo within five minutes of meeting her. Sitting around with a handful of other actors of all ages and personalities, I felt like such an imposter. I’d been rejected from drama school and I had no professional credits to my name. When I was told to sit opposite another actor, my mind went into overdrive telling me how to get it right, how to beat the game, how to be the best. And Steph soon stopped me and told me not to bullshit and fuck being polite. At 18, I can’t tell you how terrifying that was. I turned up everyday scared shitless, but each time I got up, sometimes I’d have a breakthrough and sometimes I wanted to throw a chair through the window. I kept wanting to get to ‘the acting’ because I now realise I just wanted to hide. But slowly, and I mean slowly, I let my guard down. After the intensive week, I was hooked on Steph’s nurturing style and began to work with more ease rather than fighting it.
2019. I attended almost every both feet class and course I could. From tech gyms to audition workshops to movement and voice training, I really threw myself in. I completely and utterly trusted Steph. Because I saw how other actors in the room connected to others, how easily they found truth by just being themselves and cutting the bullshit. I discovered new techniques like Laban and had the most transformative week with Barbara Houseman in Leeds where I found my love for mindfulness. I was even writing my own work and being supported by actors from Both Feet in producing this and developing it further. All the while, I was working a full-time job that I hated whilst being involved with youth theatre productions so that I was fully immersed in acting and performance. The only thing I wasn’t working hard on, was my own well-being and making space for me. But we’ll come to that in a bit. With only two full days off a week and filling my days to the brim, it doesn’t come to much surprise that I was rejected from drama school auditions again.
2020. The year my life changed. We all know what happened this year. And in a way I’m grateful for it. Because I was forced to stop, and as you could read from 2019, I was not giving myself any space to breathe at all. Steph started creating classes and courses that we could do on Zoom so I got involved with as much as I could at the time. If you haven’t noticed already, Steph will go above and beyond to innovate and make valuable courses for the community of Both Feet. I was involved in a digital scene study where she invited a casting agent to give feedback and aid our professional development as well as free-writing sessions and more. But I owe such a big BIG thank you and it changed my life to Steph’s New Pathways course. I was at a low point, a really low point. I was depressed, I didn’t know who I was or what I enjoyed anymore, but the one good thing about hitting rock bottom, the only way to go was forward. With a group of beautifully open and down-right amazing humans, I embarked on changing my thoughts and inturn, changing my life. I owe so much to those 12 weeks and more, because for the first time ever, I wasn’t just thinking about how to get into drama school, I was truly focused on myself. I got far with auditions but not quite close enough, so I took Steph’s recommendation to check out a course called Year Out Drama which I successfully got into. My new found freedom and confidence, combined with moving to a new city for the first time ever was a successful ending. I went into the course with courage and being open to whatever was thrown my way, working 10-5 and sometimes 10-9 five to six days a week. I absolutely loved it. For the first time in a very long time, I was solely focused on performing and myself, and not on drama school auditions.
2021. Although this isn’t a year of rejection, it’s brings us to now. It’s the first year that I haven’t been directly involved with Both Feet for a very long time. And now that I think of it, it’s almost like the Nanny McPhee effect. When you don’t want it, it’s there for you but when you think you need it, it isn’t. And when it isn’t directly there, you naturally put into practice everything it ever taught you. I went into those drama school auditions cutting every bit of bullshit I could and I was the most prepared I have ever been. And I had the most success, final recalls almost everywhere I applied and an offer. I hope you can see that from 2018 to now, those rejections that I got were not failures. Because I was not ready, I wouldn’t have been able to fully take what I need from a three year course because other shit needed to happen first. And it made me who I am right now, warts and all.
So, in a couple months time, I start my three year training and I am so unbelievably excited for it, but terrified. But I know deep down that no matter what, I am ready, because of my training and my experiences with Both Feet as well as a hell of a lot of life experience. And just like Steph always says, we are all a work in progress. So, to every single person who’s supported me a long the way, the Both Feet community, my wonderful 8 humans, Steph - thank you for believing in me every step of the way. And for sharing this beautiful journey with me. I know I’ll always have a home to come back to.