An Anxious Actor: Gary Oldman Interview and Reflections

Hello all, long time no see. No I have not forgotten about this little blog I have created, I just have needed inspiration and motivation, something that has been in short supply as of late due to the amount of work I have had. A few weeks ago, my school had an old student return to do a talk, that student just happens to be Gary Oldman and I was lucky enough to see his talk, which opened my eyes a little bit to the acting world.

The talk began with Gary (I guess we’re on a first name basis) talking about his life before Bruford. He told us how RADA told him to ‘look for another job’ after his rejection was pretty shocking to hear. He went on to talk about the content of his old course and how things have changed. After talking a lot on his process and the difference of film and theatre, he began talking on the topic of mental health regarding regret. He mentioned how he had declined roles where the actors had gone on to earn oscars for that role which led to overthinking. ‘What would have happened if I actually took the role? Would I have gotten that award?’. The topic was furthered when Gary began to speak about ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’.

Before the filming process, Gary had experienced severe anxiety due to the expectation weighted on him. He had made Alec Guinness into an almost ‘bogeyman’ and almost dropped out of the role of George Smiley, thinking they would see him as a ‘charlatan’. His anxiety got so bad he took Beta-Blockers to cope until the first day of filming where he realised his anxiety was for nothing. The first day went really well, and he went on to win the BAFTA for best actor. If that isn’t the best case of unwarranted anxiety I don’t know what to tell you.

I mentioned the interview as hearing from such a well renowned actor about his fears makes me rethink my own. Everyday I have a moment of self doubt and I’m sure many do, but from an Oscar award winning actor is something else. He is a normal person just like you or me, an ex student of my school who made it big through hard work and perseverance. From my voice teacher who was a year below him, Gary Oldman was always working which led to his success. It shows that if you love something enough, with enough dedication it will pay off no matter how much later as long as you carry on.

It may be true that in my case that I am one of the weaker performers of my course, it may be that I have a long way to go in performance, but I’m going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming from my course. Acting is what I love, and I’m not going to let my mental health destroy that for me. Not ever.

All the best,

Gabby

Only my fringe is visible in this photo, but still counts as PROOF!!

2019: What Comes Next?

Firstly I’d like to say a massive thank you to the people who still read my blog. I sometimes forget people actually read these until someone I know brings it up with me. I really appreciate you reading my ramblings and I hope they at least have a positive effect on you as you read.

So far I am 6 days off of medication and feeling okay, it has been really tough at moments and really tiring but the worst is over (positive thinking here). I’ve so far started trying to get into yoga before my diet change inevitably happens in my return to Rose Bruford, so let’s pray that this continues.

In all honesty I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, mainly because I believe change should be gradual and considerate. For someone like me, change is extremely hard, like diving into a frozen lake Bear Grylls style but without the knowledge. Therefore my next enemy to battle is beer consumption, something that is so engrained in our culture that it is hard to undo. So over the next few weeks I’ll be lowering the amount to where I only really drink at parties and nights out, should save some weight gain AND money.

(My cousin’s son doing what I’ve been doing this Christmas holiday)

Another thing that is totally not a resolution is keep this blog going. On reflection this blog is poorly written and organised, but you know what? It’s my poorly written unorganised blog and I’m PROUD of it. When you begin painting, you can’t expect a masterpiece on the first go, you get through the poorer drawings to improve. If I stop now, it’ll be a big regret knowing I never improved over time.

That is my message to you, that with enough time and care you can make most things better regardless of the pitfalls that come before you. If you love it enough, you get back up.

Go get em this year.

Gabby

It was also great to see some old friends, here’s my mate Ben after a big night looking like he’s not going to make it.

Taking Breaks and Medication

Hello people who still read my blog! Hope you’ve had a good few weeks, if not I hope the following days will be much better for you. This was the first Christmas my family have spent away from home and it was pretty nice, something about the ocean air helped clear my mind.

One thing that has been plaguing me recently is the concept of a ‘break’. This is my first holiday in a while where my school has not dumped piles of work onto me for Christmas and it feels strange, wrong almost. Where is the pure guilt and anxiety that usually accompanies my Christmas? Then I realised it’s actually a break, a time to just relax, develop myself and skills and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about that. Humans are so preoccupied with ‘doing things’ and ‘not being lazy’ that we forget to let ourselves just ENJOY things. Don’t let yourself be consumed for what should be a time to recharge and recollect.

It has also occurred to me how bad my lifestyle is this Christmas (I’m sure I’m not the only one). I’ve been on medication so long I’ve used it as an excuse for bad living habits and not trying to better myself. At this moment I have decided to try and wean myself off of medication but with a change in lifestyle. Things like: better diet, exercise and yoga, meditation etc. Being a student with a good diet may be hard, but in the long run I hope for it to change my outlook and get me off medication for the first time in two years. One thing I will try to keep in mind that I may slip back onto them and to not shame myself, take a breath and wait until I am ready.

Drink more water (more a note to self here)

Gabby

Here is my first Bob Ross painting, I’ve gotten back into art and it has been helping me through this holiday 🙂

The Imposter Syndrome: An Actor’s Guide

Hello all I have returned!!! This week has been packed with classes, rehearsals and shows and I can successfully say I have completed my first semester of drama school! I am so proud of myself for making it through these past few weeks and am ready for some lie ins and relaxing.

I’ve been wanting to write about this issue for months now but I never has a word to describe the feeling. Then a few weeks ago and actor I knew posted a video about ‘The Imposter Syndrome’ and it all made sense. The imposter syndrome is when a person is successful but has doubts about their accomplishments/fears they will be exposed as a fraud. I’m sure most people may have experienced this at some point and wanted to talk about it and how it relates to theatre.

Through actor’s lives, we are told ‘getting into drama school is soooo hard and you’ll probably get rejected.’ This is what I was told hundreds of times, yet still decided to go for a few. After a few rejections, I thought it was over until my last who accepted me. My joy was so explosive I couldn’t speak, it wasn’t long however until I doubted it. ‘What if they made a mistake? It could be an admin error. Their acceptance rate must be so high to accept someone like me.’ This was so irritating, it felt like I was an imposter to the school, that I didn’t belong to this group of talented ex-National Theatre and Fringe performers.

(https://www.executiveforum.com/leaders-defeat-imposter-syndrome/)

The excuses continued even to the point of only recently. It got to the point where the tutors had to literally tell everyone ‘you belong here’ and have one of them tell me ‘we aren’t going to kick you out.’ It was so irrational yet so rational in my mind that it got in the way of the enjoyment of it. One famous person who suffered the imposter syndrome was Albert Einstein, a man internationally recognised for his intelligence and yet believed he was fraudulent.

I’m not trying to be ungrateful for my place, I love where I am, but if something good happens in your life then let it happen. Yes sometimes schools are hard to get into and grades hard to achieve, but people get in and people get the grades. Why can’t that one person one day be you?

Have a good Christmas break! (Apologies to those who don’t have them)

Gabby

Gonna miss this new tapestry I got, makes my room feel less blank.

Schools: How They Fail the Students and Teachers

Hello all, yes I’m still alive and I am very much looking forward to having time off for Christmas. Drama school is quite full on now and the dark weather is not helping the feelings of isolation, but I know I’ll make it through.

Over the last week my mum went on the radio to talk about me as a child and how I was bullied by a teacher. Not only a teacher, but the Special Needs Coordinator which brought back a lot of memories of my school life and how I was treated. My biggest fear wasn’t the girls themselves, but actually teachers. For many years I have sustained a fear of being picked out by teachers and being called back from the class. I wasn’t one for the rules, but was terrified of the repercussions and punishments.

I would love to speak to any person who said that school punishment ‘helped’ their behaviour or that they learned anything. It’s a system built on shame, shaming those students who don’t fit into little educational boxes or who cannot sit still for hours at a time.

But why is this? Because teachers themselves are under pressure. From my old school they used to have competitions on which subject had the most A*s (used to be textiles that won, but the teacher was really rude and strict). Teachers have to plan up to 5 classes a day, take those classes and mark the work that was set for a terrible wage. If their students don’t do well, then they could be punished and lose their job.

It’s a triangle of hierarchy where punishment is the easiest way to get results, where the arts are neglected because they don’t yield as many higher grades and there’s no solid mark scheme. I love to learn, but I’m so happy my school days are behind me, I’m just disappointed how the system is only getting worse rather than better.

Maybe we can change this… any ideas?

From a contemplating Gabby

Where is this Blog Going?

Hello all, I’m back again already doing an update on my thought processes. Firstly I want to say that I’m proud of myself for carrying this on, as one of my less familiar names was ‘quitter’ as I would start something and literally quit after a month. Go me! The past couple of days I’ve mainly been concentrating on getting back into playing instruments on my own terms (many thanks to my brother for letting me use his electric piano).

As I lay in bed in another state of social isolation, I started to consider about where this blog is going. It was not until recently that I knew how many people I knew actually read this, which really warms my heart. Adding to this there are a few people who have also followed me on here, so hello you guys! It’s good to have you.

My one problem with my blog currently is that I don’t go into as much detail as others, so my main aim from this point onwards is to have more discussion but still keeping it fun. This may be hard at first, but hopefully will make my content more worthwhile to readers instead of fulfilling my own little writing ego. The English Literature part still isn’t dead (my English teacher would hopefully be proud).

Also I apologise a lot, but if you got this far I applaud you people.

Have a good day,

Gabby

One of my little doodles, it’s good to have a doodle book just to draw down what you feel at the time and it doesn’t have to be good. Just personal

Working through withdrawal

Hello again, is it me the very sickly coughing student. I’ve had a bad throat the last few weeks which has made me pretty lethargic and is annoying everyone. I call it ‘Freshers Flue Part 2: Electric Boogaloo’. On top of that I’ve had the anxiety of running out medication which I have to blame myself for.

At the moment I’m on 20mg of fluoxetine which helps my serotonin levels. One major problem with this medication is the withdrawal. The withdrawal is the worst, and can involve depressive episodes, panic attacks, shaking etc. Last night I ran out of them and my mind feels like sludge. I’m not ashamed on being on medication because it helps me, if it were not for the medication I would be a mess most of the time and become reclusive.

Whilst the withdrawal makes me feel bad I just treated myself to a nap today and have been taking things slow. Why work on a tired worked up mind when you can take a break and work later? It’s been a slow day sure, but we’re allowed to slow down when we need and take a breath. You can’t win a marathon if all you do is sprint.

Luckily today I have my medication back, so this little slip up can be resolved and tomorrow I will feel better. Thank you medicinal science!

Drink some tea,

Gabby

This is the book I have been doodling in, I would recommend it to get your thoughts down somewhere and I may write a post about it. Also I said I would write this: Esther is sexy.