Interviewed – April 2020
Hi Emma, thank you so much for answering our questions today. Why not start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Well hello everyone. I’m Emma and I am an actress and performer currently based in my family home in Cornwall during isolation. I am 23 so still learning tricks of the trade and working on my craft.
How long have you been acting and what made you want to pursue it as a career?
I suppose in professional terms, I have been acting for three years as I graduated in 2017, but I really started while I was in the penultimate year of primary school. My passion for performance began with singing in Year Five, when my school put on an outdoor concert where each class had a different part to play. I particularly remember trying to convince my teachers to let me sing one of the solos that they’d already cast a boy in the year above me for. I eventually subsided. After that, singing lead me to drama in secondary school and from then I joined drama club and performed in the school shows, studied drama, joined a youth group and finally trained in Acting.
You trained as an actor at Bath Spa University – what was that experience like and would you recommend aspiring actors try universities instead of drama schools?
In a nutshell, I adored it! I had the best classmates, which are now life-long friends, and the tutors were simply incredible. They have a priceless knowledge and have all experienced the industry so the training we received from them was invaluable.
And I would absolutely recommend aspiring actors to consider university courses alongside drama schools. It is so important that students look at both because there are so many benefits to a university that most drama schools do not offer. With my university course, we were given time to work on our own. We had our brief and we had our deadline, and the rest was up to us, so we learnt how to work on our craft independently. When we did work independently, we could contact tutors when we needed direction or assistance to make our work better. They were always on hand when we needed it. It prepared us for the outside world where you’re not in constant work and you have to promote yourself. Surprisingly, very helpful skills during a lockdown!
While drama schools can offer an agent showcase and usually have an appealing location, the contact hours we had from staff differed by three or four hours to that of the drama school and we did have a little more free time to be students. I adored that aspect because it did mean that we could explore all the benefits of student life, while still having a full week of training.
What were you up to before the theatre shutdown?
I have been performing since the start of the year with The Market Theatre in Hitchin in their comedy farce Peter Panties, an adult panto based on the beloved children’s story. I was performing that each week and returning to my base in Bath to work on my craft before getting a part time job working at a cafe in the city. I had received work to return to the theatre in April in a second comedy, but unfortunately the director closed its doors for the foreseeable future. I’m sure everyone will come back bigger and better when the lockdown is raised but we must keep everyone distanced until it is safe to do otherwise.
How have you been coping with this new existence of social distancing and staying indoors?
Quite well! I am very lucky to have grown up in Cornwall and that I arrived at my family home a good week before the lockdown. It has meant I’ve had some safe outdoor space to explore and access to my music. It has been a real breath of fresh air being here (literally and figuratively) and the space has helped keep my mindset free and uncluttered. I do miss my flatmates in Bath, though.
What’s your top tip for other creatives struggling with quarantine life?
Exercise! I absolutely love to get myself moving and grooving in one way or another. I cannot stay still for too long and I have found so many online outlets that will shake up a very sedentary day. Joe Wicks’ home workouts are a life saver for anyone looking for a quick workout and he has an option for every ability and age. CBS Dance have started putting up dance classes on Instagram Live and I am loving those. They also have a selection for different abilities but make it easy for beginners to follow. And finally, my fellow trainee from university and wonderful friend Charlotte Gray, a qualified personal trainer, has also started to put workouts up on YouTube to follow along to.
Your agent was recently caught in a controversy after they asked their clients to film a self-tape on a tight deadline, only for it to be an April Fool’s joke – how did you feel about the prank?
I haven’t been with my agent very long, two weeks at most, and this was the first self tape I’d received from them so I jumped at the chance to record it. I did think there were some things strange about it. The breakdown was a bit vague and the fee was quite small for a commercial on prime television channels, but I thought it sounded fun and so I gave it a go. Before I even submitted it I had been making myself laugh with it so I was more than happy to submit. When I found out, I did feel a little down hearted for a moment, but I looked at the positives of it. I had had so much fun recording it, my family found it entertaining and once my agents explained what their intention was, I could see there was no malicious intent behind it. They apologised several times to all clients.
I can understand the hardships others felt and during a time like this, a prank was not ideal, but I have shared my creation to the internet and friends and family have had a few giggles from it, which is the whole reason it was done in the first place.
Overall, future work will still come, we should all support each other and continue to be kind, even when feeling low.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do once the lockdown is lifted and we’re allowed outdoors again?
A good question! There are three things I’d like to do; go to the beach, see my partner and go to work, ha!
I miss exploring with friends and family and I’ve definitely missed my partner. I’ve been envious of everyone isolating with their other half and, simply put, I would just love to go back to work.
What shows are you looking forward to seeing once theatres re-open?
I have been wanting to see Magic Goes Wrong for a while, so I think that’ll be top of my list once we can go back to the West End. I love what Mischief Theatre do and have watched each of their shows aside from this one. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (both parts) and &Juliet are also high on my list of shows. If Jason Robert Brown’s Last Five Years returns, that will also be one I have to try and see.
What would be your dream role and why?
Johanna from Sweeney Todd. Sondheim’s work continues to excite me and Sweeney Todd was always a favourite. I performed a youth production of Sweeney Todd as Johanna and that show made me fall in love with the role and with the production. I played her to be very timid and impressionable, but I think she has a lot more to her that can be played with and I’d love to have that chance again.
What was the best show you saw last year and why?
The best show I saw last year was Waitress. The set, the songs and the performances were wonderful and the show had a wonderful feel-good manner to it. There was a lovely journey for each character and I left feeling light and entertained.
Finally, this year marks three years since you finished your actor training – what advice would you give to yourself three years ago?
Trust in yourself and listen to feedback. It’s not a bad thing and will help so much in your development. Oh, and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet is not an old woman!
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions – stay safe and keep washing your hands!
Interviewed by Ryan Mellish
Isolation Selfie by Emma Jenkin
Headshot by Alan Howard
Find out more about Emma here:
Instagram – @emma.j.jenkin
Twitter – @emmajjenkin
Website – emmajenkin.co.uk