“Why didn’t you audition for Evita?” My friend lamented.
In truth, I am wondering why I didn’t. I love that show. I love performing. It’s always been a big part of who I am. Some might say it is who I am. The extrovert. The centre of attention. The one who needs the applause, who dreamed of a career on the stage. That’s me. Isn’t it?
Sunset Boulevard reminded me of everything I loved about being onstage. It also reminded me of everything I hated. The pointless offstage dramas. The divas. The bitching. The drudgery. The bad smell. Oh yes, when you have 30 people changing in one small room, it will smell. Badly.
Towards the end of last year, I realised I still had so much more to achieve. So much more work to do. For better or worse, social media is now my job and my industry. I have to be the best at it. There was a time when acting was what I wanted to do most in this world, but the realities of that poisonous and hurtful industry were far harder to bear than I could ever have imagined.
Performing was also my only release. Growing up, I had too many thoughts and feelings inside me. Repressed and hidden, I had to give them a channel or they’d force themselves out in more destructive ways. Roles I played onstage were a way of escaping from my reality, even the ones I didn’t enjoy playing. It was still a chance to be someone else. The world of the theatre was a place of heightened energy, where imagination and fantasy were turned loose instead of reviled, as they seemed to be in every other aspect of school life.
In Sunset Boulevard last year, the theatrical magic had gone. I saw people playing roles to escape real life, the stage lights and stale air replacing the sun and outside world. I suddenly realised why I wasn’t enjoying being somebody else. I had reached a point where I liked being me. A state I could not have imagined being 10 years ago.
I didn’t need a character in another time and place because my role in my London life was what I was playing. And I was enjoying it. I am enjoying it.
Playing myself is more than enough of a challenge for now. I don’t think I’ll improve my lot in life, my relationships or my career, by hiding behind a costume and makeup pretending to be somebody else.