Interview with Fiona Skinner (2009 Graduate)
Why did you want to be an actor?
I think it’s fair to say everyone has their own reasons. Mine was pretty simple: Seeing people’s lives played out onstage fascinated me and I decided I wanted to do that myself.
How has it been since graduating?
I left Conti with an overly realistic attitude towards my career: it was never going to be easy – this was and is still true.
However, the most important thing is how you react to the lows / the no’s – it’s the ability to pick yourself up, retain confidence in your capabilities and push forward. Also hold onto the saying ‘You get out, what you put in!’ Then it’s only a matter of time.
How has the training you received helped you in your work so far?
Every Actor has their own ‘process’ – Conti gave me a set of ‘tools’ for my toolbox. It offered me an array of processes and then it became about what worked for me. Every script that I get through I make sure I tick the verbs and slash through the full stops to make clear ‘new thoughts’ for example (Thanks Kate). Simple tasks that can instantly show the character and help me to do that character.
You are due to appear in ‘Our Girl’ on BBC alongside Lacey Turner. Tell us more about the show, your role and filming it?
It’s a one off BBC drama concentrating on 18 yr old Molly Dawes who escapes a life of desolate hope and joins the army. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story.
I play the scary ‘Corporal Richards’ – she doesn’t take any crap! A great small part. When I took on this role I thought of that brilliant quote ‘There are no small parts, only small actors’. I like to think I’ve made an impact with this role and it’s great, if not a little frightening to see my ugly mug in the TV guides as part of the press release!!
Filming took place at an actual army barracks. Supporting artists were real soldiers. It was an amazing opportunity for us to see things first hand and allowed room for specificity which could’ve been missed had we not had real soldiers advising us. I even had a few recruits saluting me – believing I really was a Corporal and of course, I loved that!
Tony Grounds is an amazing writer and funnily enough, I used a monologue from his play ‘Made In Spain’ for Drama School auditions – what are the chances? Kind of reinforces how small the industry is!!
What advice would you have for anyone auditioning at or starting at drama school in September this year?
I would say do your research!!
Think about where you’d like to train. We all get caught up in the thought ‘we’re lucky to get in at any drama school as competition is so rife’ but take that thought away from your approach. See where your favourite actors have trained – see 3rd year shows at schools you’re applying for. Also really pay attention to your monologue choices – make sure they’re suited to you (age, sex, accent) and they’re within the time limits stipulated.
If you’re starting Drama school – my one piece of advise would be: approach everything with an open mind!
What’s next for you?
I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline. My main aim is to keep focused, work hard and enjoy every opportunity.
I’m far from what I used to be but not quite what I want to be – this journey is not a sprint but a marathon and I’ve loved every step of the way so far.
Our Girl airs BBC 1 this Sunday 24th March @9pm.