How to Write a Personal Statement

How to Write a Personal Statement

Personal statements for drama school are often quite terrible. The applicants often get either no help, or bad help, from school but the schools don’t know how to write personal statements. They become lumpy personal biographies with ‘pick me, pick me, pick me!’ thrown in. 

You can never tell how much a personal statement can sway the panel. I’ve heard auditionees say that it doesn’t really matter, it’s only your acting. And yes, it probably doesn’t matter as much as your acting, but if you’re putting this sheet of paper in front of someone who is making a decision about the rest of your life, then I think you want this to be a killer personal statement. 

You have the opportunity to make a personal statement and it has to speak for you and you have to think about what you want it to say about you. The first thing you should ask yourself is ‘what do I want the person who reads this statement to know, think, feel and do as a result of reading this statement’. I want them to know this, think this, feel this and do this. You want the reader to know some specific things, feel some specific things, and do something specific at the end. This very simple know/think/feel/do is a great way to tackle what you’re going to write about. 

For example, if you want them to think that you’re mature and ready for the pressures of drama school, what do you want them to know about you that would make them think that? Having a role in your school panto at age 7 might have been something you thought they should know, but when you run it through the know/think/feel/do filter, does it seem as relevant to include now? Does it show that you’re capable of the demands of drama school and are trainable? As you answer these know/feel/think/do questions, you’ll come up with better answers.

Other questions you can answer in your statement are:

Why you’re applying for this particular acting course at this particular acting school -  If it’s possible to be specific (UCAS applications don’t allow for this) research the course you’re applying for in detail online and provide evidence for that answer. ‘It’s a practical course’ isn’t a strong answer - every drama school has a practical course! 

Why does acting and a future as an actor interest you so much? I know you’ve always wanted to do it, but what is it that you want to do and why? Show that you understand what it is that you’re undertaking on this course and that you understand what being a professional actor actually  means.

For which reason do you think that you’re suitable for this course? Which of your past experience/skills/background/personality makes you most suitable for this course. Not what you did in high school in that musical, but what qualities do you possess that makes you so suitable for the course. 

How does your current or past education relate to studying acting? This is to prove that you didn’t come up with this idea 5 minutes ago. Show them the progression you’ve been on to pursue acting and then talk about your past a bit - but make sure it doesn’t dip into a biography. 

What have you done to demonstrate your interest and commitment to a future in acting? Discuss what you’ve done that proves that step into that course is what you’re looking for. Demonstrate your passion/love of acting to them. Do you read plays for fun, go to the theatre, read books on acting, watch documentaries on acting/theatre/cinema, etc.

Look into yourself and think about specific elements of your own personality that you think makes you suitable for this course. Maturity/creativity/imagination/tenacity, whatever it is that you think, and demonstrate it to them. 

Remember, you're selling yourself here and only you have the right answers. Don’t just write what you think people want to hear as it usually comes out as wishywashy nonsense and not direct or authentic. So answer these questions and come back to the first question - what do you want them to know/think/feel/do. 

And if you need help with your personal statement or would like coaching through the audition process, please get in touch by emailing hello@actingcoachscotland.co.uk.

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