Some of you may know that I am currently making my West End and acting debut in a play called 2:22 A Ghost Story.
Call it manifesting or putting it out into the universe, but last Christmas, I started to speak about wanting to scratch that acting itch.
It was something I grew up doing at stage school and it went on the back burner once my music career started. But I always thought about making time for it again.
A few years back, encouraged by EastEnders star Jake Wood, I went to NYC for a couple of weeks to do an acting course, which I loved.
I think that was a proper ‘stepping out of your comfort zone’ moment. I went solo, joined a group of people I had never met and really immersed myself. Acting lessons by day, learning monologues, and seeing as many shows as I could on Broadway in the evenings, again on my own, something that was also a new experience for me.
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It's funny because some people describe acting as a way of hiding. Pretending to be someone else gives them the confidence to do anything. For me it’s the total opposite, I find it so exposing. I’m used to being given choreography and songs to learn, but with acting, you have lines and some form of choreography in a way, but a lot of the decisions in the moment come down to you.
I had LOVED 2:22 since I saw it first with Lily Allen and Jake Wood. It was the first play I had seen and truly engaged with. I would say I’m usually more of a musicals girl. Last Christmas I said to my agent, 'I would love to do that show', not thinking in a million years it would ever actually happen.
My team had been talking to 2:22 producers about potential opportunities and so I guess the conversations had started, but I never expected to join the cast so quickly.
Within two weeks of being asked, I did my first show. As someone who is used to working under pressure, it was the best way for it to happen. If I’d had a long time to think about it, I probably would have let fear take over and talked myself out of the whole thing!
It all felt so exciting and all I could do was commit and get rehearsing ASAP! Luckily for me, the entire production, cast, and understudies were incredible. They took me into the family and got me stage-ready.
When I take on a new project, I’m all in. This was the opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do. I wanted to do it properly and well! It was a big mountain to climb. I had two kids on school holidays, a whole script to learn, a new environment and the requirement to step into a cast that had already spent months together.
I felt like I managed to keep my cool on the outside, but inside I had days where I thought, 'What the hell am I doing?' But I’m used to that self-doubting voice of fear and underestimating myself.
I was massively worried about the lack of prep time. Could I do it justice, would I let anyone down? But I also had this fire driving me, thinking, 'You’ve proven your doubt wrong before, you’ve always wanted to do this, it's time, you’ll love it.'
The nerves in the lead-up to my first show were nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I felt sick, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t mentally concentrate on anything other than the play.
I had been lucky enough to rehearse with the incredible understudies, but then, doing it with the main cast felt entirely different. The night before that first performance I could have run out of the theatre, but I'd come this far.
Years of being on stage have taught me that a few seconds into a performance, the fear falls away and the joy seeps in. That’s exactly what happened.
I’ve learnt that sometimes the negative thoughts in my head can be wrong and every time I prove them to be, it’s a feeling I bank to remind myself for the next time.
It’s taken years, but it really does help with self-doubt. Fear is now a feeling I relish. It makes the achievement so much greater and gives me the drive to think, 'What’s next? What else can I do? How can I challenge myself?'
That said… a bit more time to prepare would be nice on the next project.
Acting is something I’m hugely passionate about and now I’ve taken that first step, it’s something I really want to make time for. There are so many other types of characters and genres I would love to give a go. From villains to period dramas, film, or stage, watch this space...
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