by Hayley Mcfadyen
As actors we are always working towards some kind of personal goal: whether that’s Film, TV or Theatre, we all want to act, but what we want to act in is specific to each of us. Working towards a goal non-stop is hard and you need to be mentally prepared for it. Sometimes I burn myself out and I’ve only just started to get to grips with how to make sure that doesn’t happen. I don’t think that I’m an advocate for positive thinking all the time, no-one is, but there are things that help me that others may benefit from, or at least resonate with.
After an audition/self-tape I tend to think about it all the time, analysing it over and over again, wondering if I impressed them, over thinking my outfit choice, really stupid things that are not important, I massively over-think with lots of things, maybe too much at times.
It’s important to always be improving yourself and sometimes thinking about it can highlight things you could do differently next time, but there is no reason to overthink it once it’s over. When it’s over it’s over.
After an audition there are various things I do. Sometimes I go and do something different to take my mind off it. I will try not to think about the possibility of getting the job or the feeling in my stomach if I don’t get the job; I just fill my day with something else. I enjoy people watching, I think most people do. I like sitting down and having a good coffee somewhere where I can people watch. Sometimes it’s nice to take the focus off of yourself, especially when the audition was so intense. It is easier said than done, yes, but I find that it helps me to not feel so consumed by the audition, and allows me to actually have a day to myself. If that doesn’t work and I find myself thinking about it and I can’t distract myself I allow myself 10 minutes to think about it non-stop – think about all my worries – but only for 10 minutes. Once that time is over I challenge my thought process to stop thinking about it and move on. If either of these exercises fail, then I turn to writing. I will either free write or try to concentrate on actually writing a more organised piece. The writing helps get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper, plus it creates some work out of your anxiety. Some of my best writing comes from feeling anxious, from writing in the moment without thinking too much.
One of the biggest obstacles we all face as actors is rejection. It can either push us or hold us back, depending on how we deal with it. Everyone is different in their response to it. I have found it varies depending on various circumstances: what was the job or how I felt at the time. I personally find that believing that some doors close for others to open helps me rationalise the rejection, and also trust that it wasn’t meant to be. You are not going to get every job you audition for, obviously, and sometimes that rejection makes you work harder, because it makes you want the next job even more than the first. If I get something too easy I don’t appreciate it as much, I also fear that if it happens too often I can get lazy. This means that the job/audition isn’t challenging me. I like to work hard, I feel like most people get a buzz off of working hard, and I think after a lot of rejection, it is a much better feeling when you finally get something. It feels like you have earned it, and also deserved it.
Being female amongst an abundance of other females – all striving to find great roles out there – can be hard. Especially as our job can be a lot about comparing: we are constantly being compared to other actors, that’s part of the auditioning process, but we also constantly compare ourselves to others. I am definitely someone who looks at people and thinks ‘I wish I looked like them’, and that is so bad! I should never wish to be anyone but myself, but I feel like I am always comparing myself to other people, always wanting what I haven’t got, rather than appreciating what I have.
It is hard to stand out, when every other actor around you looks the same in some auditions. But that is why you have to figure your own thing, which takes time. I haven’t exactly found mine yet, there are still bits I need to figure out, but I am definitely heading in the right direction and know what twist to put on a script to make it different to me. Working with Lee has allowed me to find my take on a script, to not just do it like everyone else, but like me. Every actor out there is different in their own way; if Jessica Barden played Christine in the film ‘Ladybird’ it would be completely different despite the script being the same, because she brings her own uniqueness.
I find that I have this tomboy side of me, this part of me that’s laid back, to the point and masculine in some way. This is where I would enjoy playing gritty roles, maybe even dark ones. I believe this is unique to me as I can switch it on with any script, even if the script doesn’t naturally read for this casting. I don’t think that I have it all figured out, but I do think that we can get wrapped up in wanting to be someone else, or wanting to be like another actor when really – that is the opposite of what we should be doing. The industry needs new and fresh people with their own take on a script.
About Hayley: An actor, poet and co-founder of House of Rhymes, a spoken word and live music evening based in London. House of Rhymes took on Vault Festival at the beginning of the year and sold out, along with its two other events since being created. Hayley has performed at the Cockpit Theatre, Tristan Bates Theatre as well as the Lyric Hammersmith as part of the 2019 Evolution Festival. Hayley is currently writing her own play, as well as collaborating with artists to create some sounds for her spoken word, striving to create tracks, in the hope that people will resonate more with poetry.