11:04Meg Riley

   I have some pretty exciting life news (if you haven't guessed by the title already!) that, yes, I have been accepted into a drama school *pauses in astonishment* To give you some context on the matter, basically I have just finished my final year of college in the UK which means I had applied for university and auditioned for different drama schools as well. After some months I'd come to the conclusion that I would be taking a gap year, as even though I had received a place at university for a Theatre course and an Acting course, my ultimate goal was to join a drama school and so re-auditioning seemed like the best option. And so I chose to defer the courses I had been accepted on to, as a definite back-up plan for my parents' reassurance as well as my own, just in case it happened that I didn't get into drama school again. And that was that, done. I would get a little job, hopefully gaining some more experience in the industry, earn some money, and spend time focusing on the next year of auditions. But oh no. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason, so when I was reading through some emails in bed a few weeks ago, and read 'ALRA 3 Year Acting Course' I immediately sat up and had to check that it was 1) Legit 2)Actually meant for me. And it was, on both accounts! I had been on a waiting list for this school for so long, and after seeing some people receiving offers during the month previously I thought that I had missed my chance, which is why I'd decided on my gap year. So, long story short, I'll be off to the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts this September!

   Whilst keeping this a secret from most people, I'd only told very few friends and family, as I wanted to set my place in stone by making sure contracts were signed, deposits paid ect. before announcing the big news. And so I thought it was the right time to write this post, as I thought it was important for anyone in a similar position as me, or those who perhaps may be in the upcoming years. Now, if you know me, then it's pretty obvious that I love all things film and acting-related, and being an actor is something that I finally admitted to myself about a year or so ago. I'm very lucky in the sense that I have great parents, family and friends who support me in whatever I do, as the profession isn't the most conventional and is obviously going to be very hard to achieve - But I'm always one for a challenge.

   And the first part of that challenge for me was to advance into the next stage in my education, meaning auditions for drama schools, or practical based university courses. The audition process for me was very new and very terrifying, as naturally I'm quite a shy person, but in this case I thought that I'm only here once for this moment so I better give it everything I've got. My first audition was at the University of Central Lancashire, which was probably one of the nicest experiences of audition I've had. The panel were so friendly (even making me a cuppa when I realised that I was 6 hours early for the audition) and the process wasn't stressful or unnerving in the slightest. By the end of it I was proud to have been given a conditional offer for the course, and had high hopes for my other auditions. However, young Meg was very wrong. My other auditions were at drama schools such as LIPA, Manchester and East 15 in Essex. Since they were more purebred drama schools, the auditions were slightly more intense, particularly East 15, as the groups were much smaller and the process rather blunt, as they cut large groups of people (including myself) only leaving a minority of people who continued the audition process. However most schools are nice and offer you a chance for feedback from your audition piece, giving you the chance to improve for next time.

   Some tips I would give to anyone who is auditioning are that you should prepare, prepare, prepare. This was my downfall, as I was reluctant to ask for help with my audition prep from teachers at college, as naturally I'm a quiet person and would just get on with it with my head down. However when it comes to something you have no experience of, then asking for help isn't always a bad thing, in fact a second opinion is probably crucial. I'd also say what I said before, and that is you're only there for that one moment, so give it your all! If you mess up, which trust me I have, then pause, take a breath and start again. Now, the mum in me will say that food and drink is also important, as sometimes you never know how long the day could take, some schools even asking you back on other days for re-calls. Other tips would be wearing the correct attire. For all of my auditions I chose a plain, black t-shirt, sports leggings from ASOS and slip-on Vans, as most of the time you'll be asked to take your shoes off. 

   Overall, my thoughts on the process? Generally most auditions were pleasant, although disheartening as I didn't receive a place for any schools that I had applied for via UCAS. The people, including fellow auditionees, were also lovely most of the time yet you are bound to get the odd one who thinks they're already on the same level as Lawrence or DiCaprio. But just let them get along with it, and focus on you. Sometimes, I knew when a school didn't want me, for example at Manchester when I was asked 'Is this your first year of auditions?' To which I then replied yes, and the panellist simply responding with 'Ah yes' A.K.A. 'That means you can try again next year.' Sometimes as soon as you visit a school or university though, you grasp a sense of a feel for the place, meaning that some places may not make you feel at home. 

   Whether you're heading to drama school or university, a big part of the process is finance. Since I'm the first child to go into higher education, I had no idea what I was doing and the thought of finance kinda confused me. It was definitely made clear before auditions, that drama school is much harder to fund, and for some a student loan doesn't cover all costs. Unless the drama school is part of a university, then you can't receive as much funding as someone who does, and in some cases all fees must be paid without a loan - Therefore it would seem only the rich can afford the best when it comes to an education in acting. And for someone who lives in a working-class household up north, that doesn't seem too realistic. Therefore in order to go to drama school, it's much easier for me to live at home and save on livings costs; which is what ALRA can offer me as there's a northern site about 10 minutes drive away from my house. In this case I'll be receiving a £6,000 Student Loan, and in order to pay the other £3950 I'll be using my Maintenance Loan. If you live up north too, then the nearer options would be schools in Manchester, LIPA, Arden, UCLan, most of which are either credited or recognised by Drama UK (a site where all of the top drama schools are found). Other than those you're probs looking at Birmingham or Oxford School of Drama which aren't directly in central London. I guess another tip I would give is RESEARCH. Whether it be the course, the ranking of schools, funding or general information about the school you're interested in.

   In terms of becoming an actor, in this modern day I feel as if that the game has changed slightly. With social media taking it toll, YouTubers, Viners and other app-ers have built popularity and in doing so can score deals with books, beauty products, and in some cases films and TV shows. Personally, I think that if people have worked for it, then they deserve it, and in this industry you've got to work, as well as knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. It's saddening really that this line of work is 1% talent and 99% luck as they say, but if so then I think my luck may be changing since being offered a place at a school that I thought was unattainable.

Here's to the next chapter.


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  1. Congrats! Your post was very inspiring and helpful :)