By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mornings where you wake up all Disney...

Reader, I am having one of those mornings where I've woken up with a smile on my face. I have one really swollen eye (I don't know why but it's really sore and I look a bit like Igor) but I still feel like Ariel when she wakes up in that plush bed in Eric's castle (only I've woken up in Primark sheets and a bed covered with unpacked clothes rather than royal crests and velvet) and she does a cute yawn and bounds around like a Labrador puppy.

There may well be a few reasons for this: I've just had a stellar week that started with a lovely weekend of socialising and relaxing with the Partner In Crime and was then followed by us being guest lecturers at Falmouth University, working with passionate industry experts and inspiring students. It's also gloriously sunny this morning and I awoke to birdsong, which always puts a huge smile on my face-it feels like summer is finally starting to wake up again and I for one could not be more ready for it. What else? Well it's my birthday next week and I am terrifically excited-I'm planning to take the day itself off and sleep in and wear PJs all day (UTTER BLISS) and PIC has planned all sorts of surprises for me which no one has really managed to do before. Also my dress for the day we're going out has just arrived and it is slightly too big despite a week of terrible eating (WIN) but is also gorgeous and perfectly coloured. Tonight I'm taking my gorgeous mum to the theatre to see 'Women on The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' for her birthday, and we always have a fabulous time when we go out! I think I also had nice dreams, because I woke up with that 'lovely sugar plums and dancing beans happened last night' feeling. I think it was something to do with the future and how delightful it's going to be, because I also had that zen, blissed sense that everything in life was going to be wonderful and sparkly.

So if you see someone with a really swollen Igor eye skipping through London singing to themselves, don't be afraid-hyperactive mutants aren't taking over the city-it's just me getting on with my day.

Hope yours is just as cheery Reader!

Monday, 23 February 2015

The slow discovery that you're an expert...

Reader, something happened to me the other day which knocked me off my feet a bit. Someone referred to me as 'an expert in my field'. I laughed out loud, to which the person looked at me a bit blankly and asked what was so funny. Apparently because I work steadily as an actor, now have various private acting students and executive coaching clients and blog and vlog about it all, I am an 'expert'. You could have knocked me over with a feather Reader. Because today I am headed to Falmouth to work with their students as a visiting lecturer. That's right. I am being paid to shape young minds. Actually, some less young minds as well, since I'll also be working with the MA course.

The thing is Reader, as I'm sure most people feel, even Obama or Julianne Moore, I'm quite sure I'm just winging it most of the time. I feel a bit like a fraud, like at any second someone might tap me on the shoulder and tell me that they know that I snuck into the whole acting thing behind security's back and I am SIMPLY TOO RIDICULOUS to be taken seriously. And then I'll be coaching someone, or get really passionate in a debate about acting and suddenly realise that I've said some things that make sense. Sometimes things that not only make sense, but that are quite interesting and helpful. Of course, this doesn't happen all the time. As my PIC and family will attest to, sometimes I try and put forward my opinion before I really know what my opinion is and it all goes horribly wrong.

The thing is, this whole lecturing lark is exciting and I love that I might lend a hand in helping people grow as professionals but it feels like yesterday I was doing my BA and MA, generally feeling like I was way behind everyone else and unable to speak the same language. I remember so clearly going into my MA and realising that everyone else seemed so much more confident than I felt, women that had trained at film college, had already made their own award winning shorts, came from families that went to balls dressed in designer dresses, women that had industry contacts and petite (Hollywood friendly) bodies and one woman in particular who I couldn't take my eyes off when she got up to perform because she was so real (Interestingly that same woman is now a fabulous documentary maker and photographer-she channelled her skill in another direction and still creates wonderful work). Next to all those people I felt like a scruffpot 12 year old who had thought she might be a good actor because she played Mary in the school Nativity once.

The biggest thing I learnt at drama school was that I was different to everyone else and that even though this sometimes earned me derision and snide comments, that wasn't a bad thing. My way into the industry wasn't through the same route as everyone else, it was to quietly work very hard, be a great person to have on set and a good friend to the crew. I learnt not to panic about the fact that my technical knowledge wasn't great, to ignore pointed remarks about my appearance and to give honest compliments that I really meant. I went from being a doormat to not holding back from critiquing people if I felt that they weren't giving as good as they could. I got a reputation in the jobs I did as being a genuine person who worked hard and left a good impression, both through my acting and my on set relationships, and slowly but surely my career has flourished. Every year that goes by I can chart improvements and new trajectories and although I still feel a bit like that 12 year old scruff pot and still have moments of 'Oh god, I'm a crap actor, why does anyone ever hire me', I also try and let myself be proud of how hard I work and the response I get from my audience.

I've watched with great pride as my peers have gone from strength to strength too. Madeleine Sims-Fewer has become a wonderful film maker alongside her husband Nathan and it's a joy to watch their creations and her acting. Rhiannon Story has evolved into a bum-kicking producer of feminist work, who's theatre company The Thelmas is getting more and more coverage. Naziha Arebi (mentioned earlier) now creates startling work, stark photos, heartbreakingly honest articles and is a rising star in the world of international documentary making. And alongside those wonders are many more who have been inspirational to observe. I was lucky enough to work with two women in particular at Kent University (prior to drama school) who shaped the way I performed. Laura Pearson (otherwise known as Laura Lexx) who is now a writer and comedian, is also one of the most honest actors I've ever seen or worked with and was a bit of an unofficial mentor for me, as was Gemma Barrett, who still works as an actor but is particularly focused on overseas work. Gill Harker is a trooper who I have no doubt will be one of the known British rising stars of screen before the year is out. George Weightman carved a career for himself through graft and sweat, and I've been loving watching Hannah Webster emerge as a professional actress over the past year. Finally, of course, my old housemate and favourite curl queen Vicki Baron who I've watched transform into a wonderful writer and uncompromising director who I am proud to have worked with and to be working with in the future.

So yeah. I'm going off to lecture at this uni remembering all of these wonderful peers of mine (some of whom I will undoubtedly have forgotten to mention then come back later swearing at my computer screen), and remembering our fresh faces and the fear in the pit of my stomach that I wasn't good enough to be working along side them when I started out. And maybe (just maybe) it'll help me be a bit understanding of the students I'll be working with this week.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

My shameful secret...

Reader, I have something to confess. It's an unpopular view these days, one that others may sneer at or turn away from in righteous disgust. It might cause me to get shoes thrown at my head. The thing is....

I love Valentines Day.

I know what you're thinking, 'It's alright for her though, she's stonkingly in love!', well yeah, that's true, but I loved it when I was single as well.

Here's the thing. Being in love on Valentines is amazing-this year my Partner In Crime and I spent the whole day together, just the two of us, which sounds fairly simple but given that we both lead such busy lives, it was complete heaven. We went to the cinema (no, not to see 50 Shades of Grey, we were all about Big Hero 6!), we ate bacon, we danced around the living room and drank wine while we cooked an Italian meal from scratch, we accidentally made each other the same was without a doubt the best Valentines day I've ever had. But even when I was single I loved the day. When I grew out of the idea that Valentines had to be just for couples, I started spending the day doing things for myself. One year I treated myself to lunch at a cafe I'd always admired when walking past. Another year myself and curly one wrapped ourselves in duvets and watched When Harry Met Sally with a bag of doritos, diet coke and packs of cigarettes (I was still a smoker then). Last year we ate Chinese food and watched The Slipper and The Rose (best Cinderella adaptation EVER) and laughed our socks off.

Heading towards PIC's the other day, it occurred to me that the only time I've ever been unhappy on Valentines day has been when I was unhappy in a relationship. Whenever I've been happy it one it's been grand (although this weekend definitely topped them all) and when I've been single I've loved it too.

Maybe it's because my expectations aren't huge-at the ripe old age of 26 I've never had an anonymous Valentines day card, and I've never really been that materialistic. The concept that someone would have gone to the effort to make something or organise something for me is far more touching than any bunch of flowers or shiny bauble. Valentines cynics might say that the festivities encourage us to only show our love for someone on one day, but I disagree. I show my love for my partner as often as I can. Valentines is just another excuse to celebrate it-an excuse to turn off mobile phones, refuse plans and jobs, lock the doors and just be. Those days don't come round particularly often when you have busy lives, so we need to celebrate them while we can and use them as an excuse to indulge in having a real, honest to goodness day off.

Hope your Valentines was wonderful Reader, whether your were single or taken for it!

p.s. if you don't already, you can follow my vlogs here:

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Hello 2015...

Ok. So in all reality, I should have written this blog post in January, not *looks at calendar* MIDWAY THROUGH FEBRUARY?! Bloody hell Reader, what happened?

Ok, so 2015 has been ridiculous so far. Pretty much from the second day in I've been so awash with auditions, acting jobs, teaching jobs, coaching gigs, social life stuff etc that I've not even dyed my hair yet (I think I actually have more root going on at the moment than I ever have before...seriously, it looks like a bar of chocolate dipped in carrot juice). Add to that the fact that a huge proportion of people I love were born at this time of year and you have a very expensive, very busy chunk of time...and now I have roughly a kajillion hen do's to attend as well because I am now of an age where half my friends are getting married and the other half have taken up very expensive hobbies. Like having children.

Saying that, I wouldn't have it any other way- we're both so busy and skint, the gorgeous boyfriend and I now don't feel guilty having dates where we refuse to leave the house (time spent in comfy clothes watching cartoons, cooking and playing each other music we used to listen to when we were young and stupid-or younger and more stupid-is utter bliss when our lives are so frenzied). I love having regular acting work and the projects I'm working on at the moment are interesting and varied. And of course, since I've been working so hard, I've felt no shame in booking two holidays for later this year!

I am pretty stunned looking at my diary though. Every other weekend contains a wedding, a hen do or acting work. I have wisely booked my second holiday at the end of the wedding season (when Rob and I will be so full of cake, debt and booze that a week in Tuscany sunning ourselves and weeping gently into bowls of pasta will be required). I am actually quite impressed that I am of an age where not only am I perfectly able to book hotels, hen do's, travel etc for weddings, but that I also book my own holidays. When did that happen? I'm pretty sure last week I was blissfully unaware of the price difference between flying on a weekend in school holidays and flying in a time when no one wants to travel, and the only thing I had to worry about when going to a wedding was if I could remember all the moves to the macarena.

It's looking to be a pretty fantastic year-loads of juicy acting jobs to sink my teeth into, a producer role on a film I'm very passionate about getting made, adventures to plan, family time to enjoy, friends to hang out with and celebrate massive events with and a man who not only loves me but also has taught me the joys of popcorn mixed with malteasers. 2015-I think we're going to get on.