Saying Goodbye to The Biz
The rumours are true guys. Bloody Hell Brennan has bade goodbye to the Biz! FAREWELL ACTING! BYE AUDITIONS! SAYONARA REP FOLDERS!
I know, I know what you’re all thinking. “But Katie, you’re literally the best actress ever to have walked on the planet, you should be getting a ‘MOST BRILL ACTRESS EVER IN THE WORLD’ award, you have such a natural performing gift and the voice of a nightingale (and also a butt that won’t quit)!” and I’m like, “Guys, guys, guys. You flatter me [I am v.humble] I am just bored of this life.”
Before I go on and explain my decision to leave the acting industry, I just want to make three things really really clear.
- I am not bitter.
- I am not sad.
- I do not feel like I have failed.
Just so we are all clear on that. I’m smiling wide, I’m so proud of everything I’ve done since leaving drama school, and I have made some wonderful memories.
So why leave? Well, what happened was this.
I got bored.
Over the last year, I became bored of feeling like I was out of control of my own life. Like, I didn’t have a choice in the wages I earned, the holidays I was allowed to take, the way in which I was treated by the industry and I realised how jolly unhappy that was making me. So I decided to change it.
I grew tired of missing my friends birthdays and weddings, of not being able to commit to and book holidays far in advance because of the possibility of auditions and jobs. I grew tired of feeling sick everytime I looked at my bank balance and of always feeling a bit shitty because I couldn’t really afford to do stuff, like, pay rent. I grew tired of having to constantly be away from my family, friends and boyfriend and living in often questionable digs. I grew tired of auditioning for shows and projects that just weren’t exciting, creative or artistically satisfying, that made me sigh wearily when I read the casting brief. I grew tired of juggling 15 different jobs at once, all with different commitments, deadlines and invoicing policies (also guys, pay people on time, it’s so annoying when you don’t) and feeling like I was working so hard and not really seeing any benefits or progress.
But most of all?
I grew tired of feeling disrespected and undervalued.
What struck me was that in every other job I have done whilst being an actress, whether that’s temp work or teaching work, I felt like I was wanted. Like, I was good at what I was doing, be it photocopying, pulling pints or playing endless games of Zip Zap Boing with rowdy 8 year olds. But whenever I stepped into an audition room, those feelings of respect and value would just disappear. I suddenly realised, I didn’t have to put myself in situations where I was just a pair of lungs and legs, where people would talk whilst I was singing for them, where I was expected to work my guts out for £80 per week (before commission). I loved the bits where I was stood on a stage, belting my tits off in front of people; I hated everything else.
I feel like in the last year I’ve really started to like myself. And as a full blown anxiety sufferer with low self esteem, that’s incredible and something I’m proud of. I’ve started to put my own needs and feelings first, and I’m learning to look after myself better. I’m cutting myself some slack when I make mistakes, and I’m realising that actually, I am pretty great at a lot of stuff. So I wanted to put myself in a professional situation where that was reflected.
It’s hard for performers to really see beyond the industry. We are told right from the very first day that we turn up at drama school in our brand new black clothing that we have to WANT it MORE than ANYBODY else. This must be our LIFE. I mean yeah, sure, but like I always took a little bit of umbrage with that, because I believe that performers have a wealth of transferrable skills and what if one day we actually decide we want to do something different? Or we want to start a family? Or go travelling? The idea that we had to basically sign our souls over to The Industry always made me feel a little uncomfortable if I’m honest. And I think that idea makes it so difficult for performers to leave. I’ve not been massively happy for ages in this job, but I just didn’t know a) what other jobs were out there, and b) what else I could possibly do.
WELL YA KNOW IT TURNS OUT, LOADS!!!!!!!
I dedicated some proper time to creating a CV that I am super proud of, listing ALL my skills in different categories and after it was done, I took a step back, and was like WOAH. GUYS I AM LITERALLY EMPLOYABLE AF.
My priorities have shifted once again, and performing is no longer at number one. And the main reason that I feel absolutely no sadness or resentment about it, is that I realised I will always perform in some guise or another. It’s too engrained in the fabric of who I am. Whether it’s gigging, helping friends out with their creative projects, telling hilarious anecdotes to chums at dinner parties (I am v. funny), creating my own cabaret work, or even writing this blog, I will always be a performer. But I will be a performer on my own terms, and with me in control of the situation. And in the meantime, I will have a salary, be able to book holidays, do wonderful things, see the world, spend time with people who are important to me without the fear of being called to an audition, and most importantly, be respected and valued both in my own opinion of myself and at work.
And you know what? I sang the other day just for my own pleasure. Not because I had to learn five pages of complicated harmonies for an audition, not because I have to keep my voice in good nick in case I get seen for Elphaba tomorrow (lol), and not because it is my job. Just because I was revelling in the joy of singing out loud, and feeling it in my body and not caring about whether the sound was perfect or not. I can’t remember the last time I did that and it felt so freeing. And since I made the decision to leave the Biz a few months ago, my heart and soul feel freer too.
The most important thing to me as I get older is happiness. If something is standing in the way of that happiness, change it. Move away from it, get rid of it, be brave and say goodbye.
Then smile wide.