Thursday, 28 January 2010

Backstage: Jessica Harper


Meet Jessica Harper, an actor from the West Midlands and our first Backstage candidate for 2010! Jessica is only 19 and has already worked with actors such as Julie Walters, Tim Healey, Warren Clarke, Linda Bellingham and Colyn Buchanan.

What made you want to get into your profession?
When I was younger I attended an awful lot of Theatre and Dance clubs. At first it just started off as a hobby, but … as time went on (and it didn’t take very long) I realised that I had a real passion for it. Even as a little-un I knew that the way I felt when I was on stage wasn’t just a feeling you got from an evening filler. Nope, it felt different, I felt different. Being on stage was like the greatest feeling I had ever felt, I never wanted to be off it. When one show ended I was straight back in doing another. I knew that I didn’t want this feeling to end and I didn’t want to end up getting old, having to work in an office and end up having to wave goodbye to that feeling. So that’s what made me want to get into the profession. I would have grown up unhappy if I hadn’t gone into this profession. I owe a lot to all those companies I attended as a kid. They were the start of it all for me
 
What did you do after school? Train, study...?
After school I went on to gain a triple distinction award in my Btech National Diploma Of performing Arts. I decided not to go to university, I didn’t feel it necessary for myself. I want to give my career the best crack I can on my own. I am very lucky though because I went through training with the ITV Television Workshop for 9 years this was during my school and college years. So I had already been training to a professional standard many years before Drama College was an option. So I suppose due to my training there, university really wasn’t a must for me.

What age did you start training?
I started my training with The ITV Television Workshop when I was 10 and I trained with them right up until the ripe age of 18 which is the cut off point, but I keep in contact with them and have had some brilliant experiences with them.

Did you specialise in your current area of work or are your skills more broad?
Well when I trained with The ITV Television Workshop we worked and developed mainly our acting ability. So we didn’t really focus on musicals or anything along those lines. We did incorporate music and dance into pieces don’t get me wrong but we didn’t produce any huge Broadway Musical Spectacular. We focused mainly on drama and acting, which is where I believe my strengths lie. But I did study performing arts at college so I do hold skills in other areas of performance such as dance, singing, physical theatre, TIE etc. So yes I would say my skills are pretty broad but I wouldn’t say I am amazing in all of those skills. No, some better than others.

Do you recommend to specialise?
Yes I do. I like to put it this way if I said to people that I am brilliant at the following: Acting and singing and they were what I specialise in. That would be a lie because although I can sing, I’m really no Mariah Carey. So rather than saying you specialise in everything and wasting your own and other time. Why not be honest? And say this is what I do and I do it good! This way you are giving someone a defenate. If you are good at all aspects of performance then go for it! Just be true to yourself and others.

How did you find an agent?
Truth be told, right now I am on the search for a new agent. So I have CV’s flying around the post system and internet everywhere. For me The ITV Television Workshop acted as an agent up until the age of 18. After that it is up to you to find an adult agent. I am running a little late on finding a new agent as I went travelling for a number of months around South East Asia you see. Oh the things we do ;-)
 
What makes you come across well in an audition?
Most importantly when answering this question, I must stress BE YOURSELF! You can only be you and if they don’t like that then fine, because you can’t always get what you go for. You have to be prepared for people to say no and for people not to like you. Excuse the bullet points but when auditioning:

  • Be prepared: Know your lines, Know the name of who you are meeting, Know the direction,
  • Be on time: Know where your audition is, Know train time (If needed), Know bus times (If needed) Best thing is arrive a little early.
  • Be polite: Shake hands, Introduce yourself, Involve yourself in conversation
  • Go for it!: Don’t be nervous, Don’t give a half hearted performance, Do the best you can, Give everything you have got.
  • Don’t be afraid of rejection: It happens to everyone. You cant be picked for everything, that would just be silly. Just because you get a no does not mean you aren’t a great actor, you just might not be right for that particular part. 
 
Are you ever out of work?Yes I am. I hate to say it but I am out of acting work. But I understna that acting work isn’t going to come to me. I have got to go and get it, and grab it with both hands. So I’m not afraid to the rubbish work in order to get the great. So although I am out of acting work, I do have an office job and I am constantly sending out emails to companies all over the country for work. I do a lot of work in schools, TIE pieces and I run a lot of workshops. You just have to accept that it takes time but you cant just sit around waiting for it to happen. You have to make it happen!

So that’s me in a nutshell. I hope I have helped anyone who is looking to embark on a journey in this industry. It really is a wonderful job and I truly love what I do. I’m glad to be of help to anyone who needs it. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Just hop on over to my blog and I’ll provide you with a helping hand. Good luck everyone!


Thanks Jessica! Make sure you keep us posted with what you're up to :O)

1 comment:

Jessica Harper said...

:-) This made me smile when I saw it!