Feel-Good, Uncategorized

Saying Goodbye to The Biz

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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.

  1. I am not bitter.
  2. I am not sad.
  3.  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.

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19 Comments

  1. Milly

    March 3, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I am so ridiculously happy for you and proud of you for all of this <3 It takes huge balls to realise something isn't right for you, and even huger ones to actively step away from that thing. You have the BIGGEST ladyballs out there and you're going to absolutely rock being a sassy employment KWEEN <333

  2. Charley

    March 3, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    You’re a star in my eyes and always will be. So incredibly proud of you <3

  3. Adam

    March 3, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    You know what? This resonated HUGELY with me in terms of me leaving motorsport broadcasting behind at the end of last year. Very similar situation: the performing and actually being on the mic for exciting races and commentating were great, but everything around it – the travelling to obscure locations and weird hotels, the really long hours and often scrabbling for food in between tiny breaks, the money which fluctuated between ‘that’s alright I guess’ to ‘pathetic’ and my earnings having no consistency – was burning me out hard. And if anything making my anxiety ten times worse. I’d have panic attacks up to two weeks before I was due to fly out for an event. It was horrible! So inspite of the great people I met in that industry and the potential oppurtunities, I’m happy and safe in the knowledge of walking away being the right thing to do.

    I just need to do the whole ‘get a job elsewhere’ bit because being unemployed is even worse. Any tips?! 😛

  4. Viki

    March 3, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Reading this post has made me so happy! I’m soooo happy that you’re following your happiness. It’s so so so important and is exactly why I am in a very similar position now. Congratulations! It takes guts to make a decision like that and it’s gunna be awesome!!

  5. Katy

    March 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    I LOVE THIS (AND YOU) SO MUCH. I smiled from start to finish and I’m so proud of you <3

  6. Leanne

    March 3, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    You are v.funny and I am looking forward to more Katie shaped joy in my life xx

  7. Ashley

    March 3, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I really respect you for realising the industry is not for you. It’s so brave. But when I read your words it makes me realise that my passion for performing and telling stories is so strong. All the horrid situations we are put in…. I could NEVER give it up…. With the lows come the most unbelievable highs. I wish you all the best in your new life

  8. Elisha

    March 3, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Reading things like this are so inspiring. There is life outside of performing, and it looks pretty great!

  9. DARREN

    March 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Wow powerful stuff!!! You are one amazing lady, with ‘ladyballs’ lol, I love that comment x

  10. Claire

    March 3, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Love this! You are far too fabulous to ever feel under valued or unwanted. Majorly in awe of your bravery! Wishing you lots of happiness in your new furure.

  11. Amy

    March 3, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    You have hit the nail on the head. I hate when people respond to this sort of decision with “oh, you’re giving up”…no, I actually succeeded in my career, frequently, I am just choosing to do something else now that makes me happier. Because people change, dreams change, life changes, and happiness is the most important pursuit. Good on ya girl and good luck!

  12. Lauren

    March 3, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Ahhh I Loved this. I feel exactly the same as all of this, I’m not quite ready to ‘give up’ and not sure I ever will be because (like you said) it’s engrained in me. However I am starting a photography course AND redoing my maths GCSE this year to try and open up new doors (and hopefully get me a more secure income somewhere down the line!!) But will do this along side things like wedding singing, random gigs etc… IF the time comes when a performing job presents itself to me that provides a liveable income/ is a one off awesome job then GREAT… but after this year, I’m no longer going to be putting my whole life on hold for the possibility of my dream job occurring.

    Thanks for this blog, can’t wait to show my fiancé (who’s not in the industry) how we are all in the same boat one way or another. Xx

  13. Georgina

    March 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    So true – this was me a couple of years ago when I decided to train as a teacher for a lot of the reasons you’ve given: the holidays, the weddings, having the think about the minute cost of everything and very much the feeling of being undervalued. In my first year, I think I was actually getting paid less than I was while acting but I knew the money was coming in every month and the daily job satisfaction is immeasurable. And, as you say, you will always have your training. In the Easter holidays I’m going out to do a paid gig in Italy for a few days which I’m really excited about. I feel I have the best of everything now. I wish you every success in your next chapter 🙂

  14. Angela

    March 4, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Good for you its a hard decision and one im struggling with at the moment. Hope I find my answer soon x

  15. Richard Beenham

    March 4, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Spot on, as ever. So much to relate to there. Leaving it behind with no regrets and your head held high. All power to you.
    I find myself in a somewhat similar situation at the moment, although I’m trying to push things in the other direction! The recent sudden death of a very good friend has kicked up something of a shitstorm for me – thoughts about my own mortality, what I’m doing with my life, what it’s all about, what will be said about me when I’m gone, what I’ll leave behind etc. The sort of stuff everyone feels when someone close dies. Amongst the changes I’m still trying to figure out, I’ve decided to try and give my own acting career and creative endeavours a shot in the arm, whilst at the same time find employment beyond my current job that’s more fulfilling that perhaps pays more. Surely not that tall an order?! And alongside all that, honour my friend and the life he led by following his example. Where it all may or may not take me remains to be seen, but I’m totally with you on the whole “Okay, it’s time” sentiment. I’m so pleased you’re absolutely at peace with it all and moving forward. Exciting times! 🙂

  16. Allen Hogan

    March 4, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I saw you perform at one of Debbie Moody’s shows in Stratford. I thought you were fantastic. Our daughter Alice was in the audience. She also thought you were brilliant. Not long after Alice died of Lukemia, but she and I remembered with great affection your performance that evening, we both went home enriched. Thank you. All the best with the next stage of your professional career Allen Hogan

  17. Nicola Goodchild

    March 4, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Ditto to most of the above. I’m giving my career another shot in the arm too though as I feel I still have so many different things to offer. Just had my first website made and will try to take some control and use it as a new tool to show people what I ‘ve got. The comment about invoicing and payment terms struck a nerve. That sucks! Horrible to feel like you are grovelling when payment terms are 60 days and beyond. I once had to wait 4 months to be paid £2000 for a commercial. It nearly crushed me…the powerlessness. I ‘ve got yet another string to my now and am a personal wellness coach. Its nice to have people appreciate my help. Bloody revelation actually. Good luck for your awfully big adventure!

  18. Fiona Press

    March 7, 2017 at 2:49 am

    I don’t know you from a bar of soap but clicked through to your blog from a Facebook post by Kerrie Anne Greenland who stayed in my flat once ( that’s the only reason I know her). I wish I did know you. As a an actor of some 34 years experience who has often come to this point but full of grief, darkness and rancour, I applaud you and this marvellous description of your healthy, joyous decision. Bon chance!

  19. Emma Spearing

    March 13, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I loved reading this. Thank you. How refreshing and honest. I am not ready to leave the industry yet, despite similar experiences and frustrations, but i am very aware that if it no longer gives me any joy, I will move on…. And take back control of my life….and finances ! 🙂 And i will remember what you have written and know that i am not alone… I wish you loads of luck and joy in whatever you decide to do next! x
    Thanks for sharing.
    Emma x

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