By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
Click on my face to link to my vlog!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

In which I go back to class...




Reader, I have started going to a weekly acting class.

Ok, so you'll probably read that and go 'so what?' but here's the thing: I haven't been back in training officially for almost 5 years. I'd been through a bit of a patch of feeling unexcited and frankly a bit crap about the whole acting thing-too many bad scripts, auditions with rude directors and less than fun experiences. I needed something that would make me feel the passion again, and having watched my guy do these weekly classes and come home brimming with enthusiasm and excitement, I decided to take the plunge, hoping to refresh my skills and re-awaken the joy a bit.

What I hadn't expected were the nerves.

Nor that the nerves would be about meeting my classmates.

Reader, I think I've mentioned in the past, I got quite badly bullied as a kid. I didn't know how to interact with other children, because I spoke like a 30 year old and had spent a while before school travelling the world with my parents. Groups of kids and the way in which you're supposed to behave around them baffled me. Making friends was hard, and bullies picked up on the fact that I was different to them, leading to years of just not wanting to go to school. I didn't speak the language, or understand the conventions. I thought perhaps I was past that nervousness around large groups of strangers now, what with the fact that I have lots of amazing friends and constantly have to meet new people as part of my career, but as it turns out, I am just as awkward as ever.

The first day I was so nervous I could barely speak. I sat in a cafe opposite the theatre beforehand, trying and failing to read the same page of my book for half an hour before (thank god) my wonderful teacher bumped into me and walked with me to class. She dropped me off in the hallway with a small group of my classmates, who were ridiculously welcoming. A friend who had done the earlier class walked by and I got into a chat with her about how she'd been doing-by the time I turned around the small group had turned into what seemed to me to be a teeming mass of humans. Oh god. And they all looked really young, confident and absurdly cool. And they all knew what to wear to a weekly acting class (lycra and funky tops, which, as I am swiftly approaching 30 I find harder and harder to pull off). The nerves returned. They all knew each other and were excitedly chatting away. Heading up to the class, I was roughly 3 minutes away from a panic attack. Thank god I sat next to two lovely people who confided in me that they were crapping themselves at their first session too, and that I had nothing to worry about. And quite suddenly we'd begun. The thing is, it's hard to feel anxious when you're really enjoying what you're doing, and what I had forgotten is that I actually LIKE acting. In fact, I LOVE it. Being handed a script I've never seen before and being asked to perform it is pretty much my idea of heaven. But somehow I'd forgotten that, because how often do you actually get to perform without risking your career as an actor? Practically never. And the longer I spent with the other actors, the more relieved I was. These people don't judge. They are genuinely lovely, talented, warm and open folk who want you to succeed. The relief, dear Reader, was fairly overwhelming. I came home from class and one of the first things I said to my expectant boyfriend was 'I want to be everyone's friend in that class. They're all so...brilliant'. I don't know if you get friend crushes Reader, that feeling when you meet someone and you internally cross everything that they'll like you because they are so ridiculously wonderful that you want to hang out with them lots, but my class is full of people like that.

I have my 4th lesson this week. I'm really looking forward to it, not just because I'm learning so much (which I am) but also because I get to see this amazing group of people and play with them.

And just like that, I love being an actor again.
Ash
x

P.S. If you're an actor who needs to refresh their skills, their passion or just wants to learn some awesome new stuff, you'd be hard pushed to find a better class than The Actor's Class. Here's the link if you fancy having a wee gander

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Fanciful about Food...

Reader, when it's breakfast, I am deciding what to have for lunch. When it's lunch, I am deciding what to have for dinner. When it's dinner, I'm working out a way for us to have snacks later without me being the one to overtly suggest it. I am obsessed.

The first thing I ever baked in my current flat

The thing is, food really does shape my life-most of my memories as a kid are tied around food-the worlds best banana pancakes in Bali when I was 3 that spoiled me for all other banana pancakes forever, ranbutans [sic?] eaten from paper bags in muggy hotel rooms with my parents whilst in Asia then being horribly disappointed by them back in the UK, my dad's ice cream floats (drunk on our front doorstep with all the neighbourhood kids), my Irish nan's roast potatoes that I will never be able to fully replicate and my English nan's date slice (for which I have the recipe, kept safe in a book, written down by 11 year old me and with everything spelt grossly, luxuriously wrong).

I knew I was head over heels for my boyfriend when I didn't even think about food on our first date, then on our second insisted on taking him to an Irish pub so that he could try red lemonade. I wanted him to be able to taste the drink that was the memory of so many childhood trips to Kerry because I knew he was important, even then. I was so delighted when he liked it that I threw my arms around him and kissed him.

For me, food means more than just nutrition-it's logged with emotion, nostalgia and memories. I've never been great at dieting for that very reason (which is a shame given that staying trim is part and parcel of being a screen actor). I grieved when my favourite Chinese take away closed down (I've never really recovered that particular betrayal).

In recent years more layers have been added-I know that at some point I want to have kids, so I know I have to keep my body fit and well, which means not only avoiding the wrong foods, but making sure I eat the right ones too. The past few years have had be eating meat and fish, discovering that my severe anaemia (despite my 17 year old protests) was linked to my vegetarianism and that steak is delicious. I don't just eat veggies because I have to now, I eat them because I love them and feel pretty rough if I don't. I make sure protien happens in every meal and that it's not always cheese. The older I get, the less food I can get away with eating without drastically changing size and shape. Which isn't to say that I don't still have huge pizzas and burgers-of course I do-but they had better be worth the damn calories. Frozen pizza doesn't cut it these days, it has to be the real deal or I feel cheated.

I can't tell you any dates from history but I can tell you what I ate the day we went to my first ever football match (smiley faces with soy sauce and ketchup-we were out of salt), or what me and my housemates talked about the first night we got drunk together and ate free buttery toast from the Christian tent ('Sorry man, we don't want to talk about god, we're mostly here for your food'). I can tell you the first meal Rob and I ever went out for (Thai food, which we barely ate because we were too busy laughing and doing Eddie Izzard impressions), what was served my first day on a proper TV set (veggie chilli and rice and loads of treacle sponge to ward off the cold), what I ate after my first proper break up (quorn hot dogs, one a day for 2 weeks. I lost almost a stone and looked DREADFUL), what I ate my first night in New York (TGI friday popcorn shrimp), what I ate when I found out my great uncle died (a really bad pizza from Pizza Hut), the drink my dad made me when I got mugged (very sugary tea, even though I hated tea, he said it was good for shock), what I ate the first time I was hungover (beans and chips, which I then threw up).

I feed people when they're sad-mashed potatoes, as Nora Ephron once said, are the best thing to treat melancholia. I also feed people when they're happy, celebration recipes stolen from Delia or Ottolenghi. I feed people to express my love for them, making Rob poached eggs on spinach and avocado is often my way of saying 'thank you for being incredible', cooking for my mum when I visit is my way of saying 'thank you for giving me a day job and being great at advice' and my dad's favourite carrot cake spells out how grateful I am for him putting up with all of my madness as a child (the man cut toast into pirate ships for me for god's sake)

So what's the moral of this blog post?
God, I don't know. I must be hungry. I think it's probably that food is a beautiful and special thing and we're lucky we have so much of it or something. Ask me again after lunch.
Ash
x

Monday, 3 August 2015

How different life might have been....

Reader, when I was 18 years old, had hair down to my bum and had only just got a facebook account, I was invited to become a Suicide Girl.



(Me age 18)


 I was offered a large amount of money to go and do a vintage style vaguely cheeky shoot in a super kitch Brighton hotel and boy was I tempted. I loved pin up girls. Being a child of the Myspace generation, I was also a huge Suicide Girls fan, loving the funky, non-cookie-cutter girls in the pictures and the message of proud female sexuality they sold. But I was also an 18 year old just out of Catholic 6th Form, who'd never had a boyfriend or had any clue about myself as a woman apart from the fact that I liked vintage clothes and acting and feminism. I thought for maybe 14 hours about the offer before I turned it down, not wanting to have a negative effect on my not-even-yet-in-existence-acting-career, or to have pictures of myself that I may later regret online. I sent the 'thank you but no thank you' email with no small degree of regret. I loved Suicide Girls. They were like the cool, alternative, fun girls who don't play by the rules but are still popular and offered fame and fortune-something which, as a naive and exceptionally innocent 18 year old, was hard to turn down.

Now, looking back I don't regret my decision at all. I still think Suicide Girls are incredible, but at 18 years old I had none of the street savvy required to do a shoot that would have sexualised me to such an extent, nor any of the self confidence. I am happy to do burlesque or vargas style shoots these days, but as a woman nearing the end of my twenties, I have the life experience and knowledge to be able to say no to anything I'm uncomfortable with and put my foot down if I don't like shots. I do however wonder if I'd be any different had I done the shoot....

So here's a little idea of who I'd be in my imagination if I did....

So, acting work would have come in after the shoot, as being a SG was very trendy at that point in time. I likely would have taken a year out of uni to do some acting work (and knowing myself as I do, I wouldn't have gone back). I would have missed out on meeting some wonderful people and having experiences that I treasure like crazy now, but I also would have done the young model/actor thing, travelling and staying in a million hotels with a crazy group of people. Being as impressionable as I was at that age, I would probably have got myself into some sticky situations. I would have got more tattoos and probably dyed my hair wackier colours to fit with my new, alternative friends. My casting would be fairly different. Without the 'little sister' tag I had at university, I would have ended up with boyfriends a lot earlier, and probably would have had my heart broken a whole lot. Would I have done drugs? I'd like to say no, but at that age? Who knows? At 18 I'd never been offered drugs, my knowledge of them was purely theoretical. I might have ended up going to drama school, but I think after starting in the professional world at 18, without knowing who I was as a person, I would now be a very different person-probably someone who was a lot wearier emotionally, a lot harder, probably a lot less level headed. I'd maybe have more of a name for myself but not in the same kind of projects I love doing now-I probably would never have met my gorgeous, life changing partner, have started vlogging or have spent 5 years in education. I feel like at the age I am now, I'd be sick of the industry and would have started a coffee shop or worked as a journalist or something completely different.

All in all, Reader, I'm exceptionally happy with my choice. I may not be able to call myself a SG, but I love my career, my personal life and I wouldn't change a thing about how I got here. Because I wouldn't be the same person-and I kind of like me.

Ash
x

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

In which I disagree with someone more important than me...




Reader, the other night I went to hear a Very Important Man (VIM) who is involved in my industry speak. A lot of what he said I nodded appreciatively at, and I applauded at his work and even stood up when everyone else did at the end to give a standing ovation (although I felt a bit silly given he hadn't just performed or done a Ted Talk). But there was one thing out of all of the things he said that I really, really disagreed with.

A young student in the audience asked for advice for people who wanted to be actors and he replied, in all seriousness; 'Don't be in a relationship, don't get married, don't have kids'.

To that, I say BOLLOCKS.

In case you mis-read, that is a very clear, BOLLOCKS.

Being an actor is not always easy. When you're working, it can be the best job on earth, but the set backs are hard and sometimes it can be emotionally traumatic. Last week 3 potential, well paying, career changing jobs melted away into nothing when I found out I had been lied to by a professional catfish ( you can see the vlog on that HERE). I was gutted. I was scared. I felt invaded. But about a year ago, I was also lucky enough to meet someone who changed my life and who knows more about me than anyone else in the world, someone who I respect as an actor and producer, someone who gives great advice and who I love so much that sometimes it scares me a bit. So when at first I tried to overlook the fraud, he sat me down and gently made me look properly so that I'd see going to meet this person was unwise and would put me in an unsafe situation. When I felt stupid he told me all the thing that made him proud of me, that I often overlook. When I cried, he held me and kissed me till I stopped shaking and then sat me on a terrace in his jumper and brought me wine and chocolate. By the morning I felt ready to do detective work on the fraudster and properly report them, and felt more positive about my life.

If I had been single, I wouldn't have had that sounding board. Yes, friends and family are incredible and make my life wonderful every day, but being in a relationship you get a cheer squad of one and a partner in crime to back you up and help make difficult decisions. Now I'm not saying you need to be in a relationship as an actor, of course not! I've been single as an actor, and it was fulfilling and excellent! But it didn't make me a better actor. Nor does being in a relationship, but it gives you some much needed support in an industry that can sometimes be very lonely.

You also have someone to share the good times with-we've celebrated so many achievements together, and because he's there to see how hard I work at it, he knows how important it is when something finally pays off and we take huge amounts of joy from our successes.

Ok, so being in a relationship means that when you go to work abroad or on tour you have someone to miss, but that just means that you have something excellent to come home to. True, you can't just jet off to live in LA at a minutes notice but a) when would you have done that anyway, leaving all your family and friends behind and b) to be honest I would follow my partner anywhere, and I know he'd do the same-what matters is that we have someone to enjoy the journey with us.

Now please don't take this as me single shaming, it's not at all. I loved being single, I was great at being single, I was a single actor for a year and my career was just dandy. But don't let people tell you that being in a relationship gets in the way of your career. If you're with the right person, it supports it. You determine how your life works, how your relationships work, how your career works. If you're in a relationship that's holding you back, then it may be time to look at the dynamics of that relationship. But for goodness sake, don't give up on love just because some 'industry professional' told you to. That's their experience. Not yours.

Ash
x

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

10 things to do while waiting to hear the results of an audition...

Reader, I am currently waiting to hear the results of 3 auditions. All of which are for pretty huge things-now generally I am very good at just putting auditions to the back of my mind as soon as I've done them so I don't get worked up, but because all three of these projects would be amazing and also I have a cold so am stuck inside today, I am unable to think of much else. So I've decided to give you....

10 THINGS TO DO WHILE WAITING TO HEAR THE RESULTS OF AN AUDITION




  1. Watch Buffy on Netflix
Because Buffy. I don't think I should have to give more of a reason for this. It's Buffy. It's excellent.

     2.  Clean your messy messy room

There is a chance I have avoided doing this, citing having a cold as the sole reason. My room currently looks like an episode of Hoarders. 

     3. Text your boyfriend and plan your next holiday together in epic detail

SO EXCITED. Pass the suncream and the travel scrabble, we're off on some adventures....

     4. Teach yourself to learn a new accent

I have tried and failed to learn New Orleans, Welsh and Arabic today

     5. Pinterest

Universal wishlist yourself into a state of near frenzy, then weep when you realise your room is not made of bare brick and full of gorgeous mis-matching vintage furniture and that you can't be bothered to make yourself a vegan superfood bowl for dinner in perfect colours and will probably end up having an egg bagel.

     6. Budget for the next million weddings you're going to

Answer? You can't afford any of them. Begin working out ways to make home-made gifts and try to work out if you can dye the last dress you wore so no one will recognise it. Try to work out ways to hitch-hike to the weddings and stay at the wedding venue for free, in a tree or something.

     7. Plan everyone's Christmas presents

Because it's June, which in Irish Catholic family terms is December 10th. And that means making roughly 30 wonky but heartfelt Christmas gifts.

    8. Try and count the number of people you know getting married or having babies

Give up and watch cartoons instead to calm down the realisation that no one is horrified by the youth of your friends who are getting married/having babies because THEY'RE NOT THAT YOUNG AND NEITHER ARE YOU. Hide under duvet.

   9. Make career plans

Have to stop because you keep factoring in this job you're waiting to hear about and that is too dangerous

   10. Check your email about a million times

Obviously not for the audition results. For other stuff. Like....uh....oh! A notification from Amazon that your new belt has shipped! That was it. Sure. 

I'm a lost cause Reader....
Ash
x

Sunday, 31 May 2015

5 Reasons To Wear Good Pants....

Reader, I tried writing a blog post last week about what I'd been up to in the time since I last blogged and I had to stop because to be honest, I just sounded really smug, and I was pissing even myself off. So let's just say that I'm really happy at the moment and then there won't be complaints of people vomiting at their computers and throwing rocks through my windows. Instead I decided to talk about something really dear to my heart.

Pants.

Well, underwear to be specific. Not many people know this about me, but I am OBSESSED by lingerie. I probably own more lingerie than most people own entire outfits. Ever since I was about 16 and had teeny tiny boobs that didn't actually need a bra, and had no one to actually SEE my undergarments, I have preferred going on lingerie shopping sprees to any other kind of spending money type activity. When people find this out about me, they tend to assume I do it for men (at which my inner Boadicea snarls and sharpens her sword). They are very wrong. I would actually challenge anyone, Male, Female, Trans, Gay, Straight, Bi, Body Confident, Body Not-So-Confident, Single, Taken and all in between to wear great underwear for a month and see what change it brings in them. I think you'd be pretty astonished! And here's the thing, great underwear to you might not mean the full ensemble of garter belt, stockings, lace et al, it might mean a pair of superman boxers with a pretty bra, or those David Beckham kecks you've always side-eyed in H&M. Great underwear is the underwear you not only feel good and comfortable in, but the underwear that you would be quite happy to show excitedly to other people.

And here are 10 reasons why it's great to do just that....

  1. Great underwear makes you walk a bit taller. You walk with a swagger because what you have under your clothes is your little secret. You could be wearing baggy joggers and an old top on the outside but the underwear that makes you feel like one hot tamale underneath will make you strut like you're in Prada daaalink. And sometimes we need that boost on a Monday in a scary meeting or meeting with that guy/gal you promised yourself you'd actually ask out for once.                                                                                                                                                  
  2. If you got hit by a bus, you wouldn't wake up cringing about the holey old nonsense you were wearing with Homer Simpson plastered all over them that had faded after too many washes. You could look your nurses in the eye. Yes you have to cut off my pants, but damn, aren't those pants INCREDIBLY AWESOME?! 
  3. Unexpected sleepovers. Ok. Let's get real here people. In this day and age, hook ups happen when we least expect them. We're living in the era of tinder, an era where one night stands are as accessible as fast food, and people should not be judged for having healthy sex lives. But don't get caught out-if you always wear good underwear, you're far more likely to not have to turn down a night of romance for bad underwear reasons. Even if you end up choosing to share a bed with someone you've just started dating but decide not to do the deed, a great set of underwear under his T-shirt (or just a great pair of boxers) will make you feel classy as heck. People complain that liaisons are never like in the movies because 'who wears underwear like that all the time just in case?' N.B. some of us do. And it's AWESOME. 
  4. Control that body. No but seriously. You know what really hurts going downstairs too fast? Boobs that aren't properly held in place. Bad bras do not protect you from droop and can cause rashes and bruises and stabby under wiring. Not so comfy. Wear underwear that feels good for you. Same for those with other equipment. Wear underwear that holds you securely in place and you're less likely to sit on....erm...things. Also less chance of cringey accidental displaying in shorts or thin jogging bottoms. From a very simplistic level, you should wear things that look after you. As if your bits are being hugged by your fairy-undies-mother. (pic related, owl is exactly how you should feel)                  
  5. Underwear is, to put it frankly, brilliant. You can be displaying one face to the world with your outer garments and quite another underneath. Underwear is like a daily gift for yourself (and maybe for a significant other if you're so inclined) and should be treated as such! I have a friend who works in an office and due to office dress code has to don boring suits but has the most beautiful underwear collection ever because it's her way of sticking a finger up at the system (sure, put me in grey suits but underneath that I am all leopard print silk and you have NO IDEA). Buying underwear can give you an alter-ego no one knows about, a secret that gives you confidence-hell, with the right pants, you could be a superhero.
Till next time Reader!
Ash
x

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Thoughts thunk from a sickbed...




So Reader, I had planned to film a vlog today, but since I've been struck down by a pretty rancid coughing and vomiting bug (on my birthday week as well!) I've instead decided to write a blog post. Because I currently look like the girl from The Ring and no one needs to see that on a Sunday.

THINGS THUNK FROM A SICKBED


  • Will this ever end? No. This is eternal. I will be some coughing spewing demon for as long as I live.
  • I'm going to get so thin. I might even be able to pull off crop tops after this!
  • Hah, who am I kidding, Bette Davis wouldn't wear a crop top so there's no way I will
  • I may never eat or drink anything again (apart from water and day nurse). I don't even miss food right now.
  • (Post Lucozade and crisps) I FEEL ON TOP OF THE WORLD
  • (Half an hour later) Oh...no. No, that wasn't a forever feeling. Back to being a swamp creature.
  • I'm bored of sleeping. Is that even possible?
  • I wish my Partner In Crime was here. He could stroke my hair and watch Adventuretime with me!
  • Actually, I'm really glad he's not here. I can't do conversation right now and I look like something you'd find in unexplored parts of the ocean. Sexy.
  • I should tidy my room when I feel a bit better
  • Maybe I should throw away everything I own...my life would be so much less cluttered
  • But that would include my fifties dresses and books...no. Not happening.
  • I can't even remember what it feels like to not be ill.
  • I wonder what everyone else is doing today? Probably stuff that is more fun than hugging a bucket and planning deathbed speeches
  • I haven't been sick for hours. Maybe I'm better now! Maybe all my symptoms are psychological!
  • Wait, am I a hypochondriac? 
  • Nah, I dislike being ill too much. 
  • That coughing fit was harsh. Maybe I have consumption like Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. 
  • Oohhh Moulin Rouge. Is that on Netflix? 
  • Seriously, do I have to have another day in bed tomorrow? Days in bed are only good if you've chosen to have them. Not if you are FORCED to be in bed. I want to vlog! 
  • I'm all alone....ain't no one here beside me....
  • Ooh, a Buzzfeed post on Labour and Delivery stories! 
  • I AM NEVER GIVING BIRTH.
  • There are no books I fancy reading, no films I want to watch and my arse of a phone has just reset Candy Crush. There is no hope for me. Pass the night nurse.
Ash
x