I can’t really give you a solid answer as to why I’ve always kept my two professions seperate. When I first started this blog it was very much a hobby to do whilst on tour or in between acting contracts. It was never something I had planned to become full-time and little did I know that it would end up becoming by main stream of income. Many people who follow me on Instagram and read this blog only know Little Miss Winney – The Blogger but very few of you actually know that long before the blog and still to this day there’s another side. My most passionate side and the side that will forever remain my number one, Kate Winney – The Actress. A couple of weeks ago over on my Instagram stories I ran a poll asking if anyone would be interested in finding out more about the theatrical side of my life and I was honestly shocked, 92% of you said yes! SO with that I thought I’d give you a little run-down and delve into my love of showtunes, jazz hands and sonnets.
It all started when I was two years old…
JOKES! Fear not, this isn’t going to be a long-winded, overly narcissistic autobiography but more of a quick whizz through the best bits and the not so best bits too because this industry isn’t for the faint hearted and can be very tough at times. Anyway, as I said I started dance lessons at two years old and it was great! I ran around being a fairy and was forever wiggling and jiggling to the music. I started off doing ballroom and latin as a tiny baba before moving onto Ballet, Tap, Modern and Jazz when I was 5 and continuing until 18 before moving to London to train full time. I loved all things theatre growing up, my big brother was also heavily involved in local theatre productions and although my mum was never one for the limelight she’s always loved watching shows and so trips to the theatre and local dance/drama festivals where a regular occurance. I did my first show age 6 (I played a princess) and got bitten by the acting bug – big time! Shortly after that I added singing and acting lessons to my after school activities, big shout out to my mum for driving me here, there and everywhere throughout my childhood as without her support I couldn’t have done any of it! I started working professionally at the age of 7 and dedicated pretty much every waking hour to practising and rehearsing in a studio. At the age of 19 I auditioned for drama schools in London and was lucky enough to be accepted with a full scholarship onto the 3 year Musical Theatre course at The Italia Conti Academy. The audition process was tough and if there is anyone reading this who is about to start auditioning for drama schools or planning to do so in the future, know that it won’t always be easy. You may be the best in your home town but you’ll be a little fish amongst sharks in London. Keep your head down, do the work and be humble! The industry is small, people talk and having an ego when you’re just starting out will work against you. Let your talent speak for itself. For my audition at Conti I had to do two contrasting songs showing my vocal range and ability to act through song, two monologues – contemporary and Shakespearean, two contrasting dance solo’s as well as an improvisation workshop, group ballet bar, jazz combintion and singing workshop, all culminating in an interview with the schools principle. It was hardcore! It may go without saying but knock backs and rejection are something you need to get used to in this industry, for every 100 auditions you might be lucky enough to get one job. I like to think I have a pretty tough skin from doing it for so long, just remember ‘You learn more from failure than you do from success.’ I didn’t get in the first time I auditioned for drama schools but then the year after, I auditioned for 6 schools, got recalled for 3 and got into 1 – luckily with funding (or else I wouldn’t have been able to go.) Obviously before this point I had done a crazy amount of shows growing up, every theatre summer school and performing arts youth company in my town, you name it – I was a part of it and not only did I love every second of it all, it’s where I met some of my best friends.
Photography – Zoe Griffin
Fast forward to being 19 and moving to London.
Drama school is intense, we trained 8.30 – 6 Monday to Friday AND I had a part time job on top of that to help pay towards my living expenses. A note on that : it used to annoy me so much when people would say ‘they didn’t have time for a job.’ Some people don’t have a choice. I HAD to work and it turned out to actually help my studies as it was an escape into something different 3/4 times per week, I worked at a coffee shop for a short while before heading to the Barbican Centre (where I still freelance at to this day.) Unlike a standard university course, performing arts courses are full time. When you are not in lessons you are in rehearsals and when you’re not in rehearsals you are either auditioning or preparing for an audition. The competition is fierce and although you obviously become very close to your class mates, you are constantly pitted against each other for opportunities. I had lots of ups and downs at Conti but I wouldn’t change my three years there for anything. It not only made me grow as a performer but as a person too. By third year everyone in my year had completely transformed from the 1st years we walked in as. Some decided it wasn’t for them and went onto gain other qulifications and some focused on a more behind the scenes approach – directing/writing/producing etc. Most however went full steam ahead and tried, tried and tried again in the big wide world of audtions. Nothing can quite prepare you for the burst of that bubble. Drama school is a safe space, a place where you’re meant to mess up, a place to learn and a place where you are constantly hopeful for the future. When you leave that space and reality hits, it can really take it’s toll. I auditioned and auditioned, I was lucky enough to get a few jobs. I did a tour with Hope Theatre Company pretty much straight out of college with a show and cast/company that will always have a special place in my heart. I did pantomime… I was Prince Charming! I did a tour of Cinderella the musical and a London production of ‘Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens’ to name a few. I also got to do the odd cabaret job here and there which was great fun! However it’s a lot of stress, during this time my blog started to grow and so last year when I really felt it starting to take off, I made the decision to focus my attention on the blogging for a while and take a step back from my acting career. Now, for me acting is very much a marathon instead of a sprint. It’s something I will never say goodbye to fully, however the timing felt right to ease off for a while instead of chasing a pay check and signing contracts to do acting jobs I wasn’t passionate about. Instead I felt it was time to once again join a local theatre group and simply perorm for the love if it. I auditioned and later joined Centre Stage Theatre Company last year for their production of Fame, followed by the GEOIDS production of A Chorus Line later in the year. It made me fall even more in love with Musical Theatre and allowed me to meet so many amazing like-minded people. By pressing pause and focusing on another passion project (the blog) I was really able to recharge and refocus. I’m now in rehearsals for Grease The Musical and I’ve just filmed and advert for Special K. I’m ready to head back into the world of professional theatre however this time, I’m putting no pressure on myself. I’m lucky enough to be able to work for myself doing something I love and so I’m going to take each day as it comes and just see what happens.When not performing myself, I am constantly at the theatre either for fun or to see my friends perform. There’s a feeling I get when on the stage and when watching from the audience – a *buzz* of sorts. I feel more myself on stage than anywhere else in the world and my most confident, comfortable self when up there performing. Theatre is quite literally part of who I am as a person, it’s been there since the age of two and I’m so happy to be finally speaking about it on here. I have so many things to share from how to get cheap theatre tickets… blog coming soon to how to prepare for an audition. It’s a route that I’m really interesting in exploring, so if you have any questions at all that you think I could help with then please do sound off in the comments below or send me a DM over on Instagram. I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post, the tiniest glimpse into the other side of my life and something that is so SO important to me. It’s the first post of many and something I’m so excited to continue!