Have you ever left a West End musical and thought to yourself, ‘I want to be up there singing my heart out too.’ We all do, don’t we? But of course, starring of the West End stage is no easy job! Performing day in day out, sometimes twice a day, is tough and takes a lot of skill, stamina, talent and, as gorgeous actor Tom Lloyd explains, commitment and study.
Take us through a typical day.
The hardest thing with any precarious career in the arts is the lack of stability, however for me this is the beauty of the essence of being an actor, the year all round change. You have to see it as being the C.E.O to your own brand, that brand being me ‘Tom Lloyd’, a healthy day for any actor while auditioning, is constantly making yourself open to opportunity, The smart actors do this by constantly harnessing their gifts and skills with classes, workshops and constant updates. With an ever changing industry; Visibility is key!
My original break, like many before me, was getting into drama school. A full scholarship into Guildford School of Acting gave me the chance at 18 to learn my craft and build stamina, and explore what kind of actor I wanted to be. It was a magical time where life really was all song and dance, the real learning about the industry came after, once in the real world you learn pretty quickly what works and what dose not.
Were you an overnight success or did you have a lot of obstacles?
I think you truly are only as good as your last work, I don’t think any artist runs a road without obstacles. You have to leave your ego at the door to be able to do your best work and brush off a whole load of rejection and objective opinion, but for every ‘Yes’ you get it’s worth every ounce of obstacle.
What did you before this job?
I stand 50/50 when it comes to the nature of the ‘B’ plan. Someone once said to me ‘If you make a B plan, you will end up living it’. So from a young age I knew my dream job was the job I wanted to do for life, and with true passion, intelligence, imagination and heart you will make it. I tick all the boxes for the jobbing actor day jobs; waiting on, temping, teaching, promo, eBay, but I choose work that pay’s my rent and won’t drain my mental energy, I also think it’s important for actors to live in world’s outside of the industry.
What had you studied at school?
I was too busy singing Sondheim on the football pitch to remember what I studied at school. I recall a science class somewhere along the way.
Was there support at school for your dream job?
As a child wishing to be involved in any aspects of the arts, my incredibly supportive parents taught me a great lesson to look on your doorstep and get involved from there. School plays, acting youth schools, beginners classes was a great place to start. At school I recall wonderful encouragement from the Music and Drama department that really instilled confidence in my natural ability. These departments are just as key to any child’s balanced life skills, even outside of wanting a career in the arts these areas of learning offer a kid expression and freedom they may not find anywhere else.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Too many actors are in a position where they have to work for free in order to gain credit and experience, even well respected actors take a massive wage cut in order to be a part of a production, I have been guilty of this because the art comes first, but I can’t think of many other professions where someone would commit to sometimes 3 month’s work for a possibility of no profit back.
What makes it so fulfilling?
The people! There’s no one quite like actors and artists. They’re a rare breed of person. When it clicks, and everyone is on the same page building towards the same goal, the process of putting on a show is a labour of love, and for all its highs and lows standing in the wings ready to go on for an opening night rivals being in love for the greatest feeling in the world.
What advice would you give to others?
You can drive yourself crazy trying to process every aspect of ‘being an actor’ or the audition process, Despite all the training in the world the best actors hold on to what the industry can’t teach you; that special essence of your charismatic inner child that loves to play. An audience does not want to see craft and skill being demonstrated they want to be moved and emotionally connected to someone living, breathing their art effortlessly, and fearlessly.
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