‘New “Honest Actors’ Podcast” Bans Anecdotes,
Self-Promotion and Name-Dropping.
“In anything at the minute?” launches 30/09/2015
‘In anything at the minute?’ is a brand new podcast featuring interviews with actors, aimed at promoting open and honest discussions about the profession. Due to launch with a double episode at the end of September, teaser episodes already available on iTunes have amassed thousands of plays, gaining the support of Equity – the performers’ union – along the way.
Guests include: Niamh Cusack, Tom Goodman-Hill, Justine Mitchell, Denise Gough, Paul Higgins, Sinead Matthews and Jessica Raine.
More interviews with actors? Yeah. But these are different…
The average interviewee in your average interview is an ‘A-list’ millionaire, and questions therefore focus on celebrity, oft-told anecdotes and imminent releases. First up, I’m banning both. That’s right. No anecdotes unless they happened outside of acting work and no talk of forthcoming projects. Oh, and while I’m at it, no name dropping either. Yup. You heard:
No anecdotes. No publicity. No name-dropping.
And I promise never to subject fellow actors to the type of questioning that usually begins “Oh, you’re an actor? Are you in anything at the minute?”
Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally enjoy listening to famous actors talk about what they’re doing and how they do it, who they played pranks on and who the biggest asshats in Hollywood are, but these sorts of interviews function largely as escapism, much in the same way as the blockbuster movies they tend to publicise.
From July 2013 until earlier this year, I had the quietest period of my career so far. I went from five months at the National Theatre to five days a week on a building site, and even though I knew I was in the majority – actors who are out of work – it was an incredibly lonely time. I read about actors suffering from depression and a watched tributes following a few high profile suicides, but when I got in from work and checked social media, actor friends seemed to only be talking about how well things were going. In many cases, I knew I was reading career ‘spin’, but I still compared my own achievements unfavourably to those that filled my facebook feed. That, of course, was not their intention. We all feel the pressure to perform ‘success’ and hide the realities from view; in 18 months where I had approximately 25 days acting work, I met several people who commented on how well I was apparently doing. And so, ridiculously, I even found myself trying to compete with my very own fiction. At Christmas, I had an idea for a podcast.
For me, and the 5,000 listeners the podcast’s 10 minute teasers have already attracted, what’s more important than the work interviewees are currently doing or have done in the past, is what they do when they’re not working, what they’ve done to pay bills and stay sane between jobs, and what advice they’d give if they could somehow meet their younger selves. And those are the kinds of questions I’m now asking.
Someone recently described to me the feeling of camaraderie they got from listening to the teasers. And that sums up what I’m hoping other listeners (and readers of the blog) will feel too. Ultimately, I want to contribute to a better standard of mental health among actors. On the way, I’d like to at least make you smile with recognition at the experiences we all have in common.
I know what you’re thinking, but relax, this is not a pity party, not a cautionary tale and not a therapy session. I’m really just trying to restore balance to the conversations we’re having and hearing about acting. ‘In anything at the minute?’ is about offering actors an insight into shared problems and, potentially, shared solutions, and it’s as interested in actors who are not working as those who are.
Beyond September, I’m not sure what’s next for his project. It started because I thought it was a good idea and nobody else was doing anything similar. I’d love to open it up to conversations with casting directors, agents and perhaps even psychologists. There’s a documentary in there somewhere. In the meantime, my hands are more than full with the impending launch. It’d be great to have you join the conversation…
‘In anything at the minute?’ launches with a double episode on September 30th. Extracts are available now on iTunes.
Many thanks for reading.