Actor, Writer and Director, Julie Kinsella has been acting, writing and directing for most of her life and has an enviable record of work in film, television and theatre both at home and abroad. Recently she has held positions with the BBC, BD films, Kinetic Theatre Company and the Oxford Shakespeare Festival as well as producing material for her own theatre company Indian Ink.
Most importantly to us though Julie was a director on our production of The Witch’s Bogey!
Here she writes for you about exploring and exploiting your talent to the full.
When people ask about my training, I usually say, “I went to RADA”. I wait for the nod of approval and then add, “But they wouldn’t let me in. Neither would Manchester Poly or Guildford. “Come back next year,” they all said.”
I didn’t go back, though. Never one to let a refusal offend, I took myself off and persuaded a local theatre company to give me a job. And there I stayed, playing very diverse roles in several TIE tours, pantomime seasons and historical plays. They even let me try my hand at leading workshops in their Drama Summer Schools. It was great on-the-job training.
I think the moral of this tale is: if you hit a stumbling block in your career, don’t give up; there’s always another way.
And don’t be afraid to diversify. I started out as an actor, and that’s all I ever really wanted to be. My cv now says I’m an Actor, Writer and Director and I guess that’s because I’m Jest a Gal Who Can’t Say No!
I started writing in one of my quiet spells – one of those times when the phone forgot to ring and the letter-box healed over. A friend suggested we write something together and cast ourselves in it! “YES!” I said, and we did. Another friend saw it and suggested I write a one-woman show for a local touring company. “YES!” I said, and I did. It never got produced by that company but I decided I quite liked it, so formed my own small company to produce it – and cast myself in it!
I started directing when theatres asked if my company had anything else coming up. “YES!” I said, and feverishly started to write the next show, and the next one – and didn’t cast myself in them!
I now write to commission and direct for other companies – and as a sideline I produce corporate videos (with an eerily Hitchcock-like tendency to cast myself in them!). I’m glad to say I’m still a working actor, but in the lean times, it’s being able to wear those other hats that keeps me in Mars Bars.
What Iím saying here is: we are all creative people – Performers, Directors, Writers, Producers, Designers, Stage Managers – whatever we do, we all have talents that go beyond our current job description. We should never be afraid to use those talents and to discover and develop new ones. Most people in our business are only too happy to encourage and support each other. It’s a great environment for exploring new directions.
And the best piece of advice I can offer is: Do it now! True success in this business is staying power. If you are serious about your career, then start to think now about how you could use your creative talents, skills and experience to see you through those work-free zones! Don’t wait for the next time you’re “available”. Too many arts professionals get sucked into their in-between-jobs job, their career loses momentum and in the end they give it all up and settle for a nine-to-five. What a waste. There’s always another way: try on another hat – you might like how it feels.