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  • Writer's picturesophie sherwin

Calm down dear – I’m only acting! Trying something New - Acting over Fifty


acting board
Actors this way

To be honest, I am not sure where my love of acting came from. One theory is that as my moon sign is Leo (creative, overly dramatic, wants to be centre of attention), it is in my DNA (not actually in my DNA but in me – oh you know what I mean).

Before my brother had the ability to fight me off, I used to rope him into being part of the crew for putting on plays for my family in our dining room. I would spend hours putting up a curtain, making tickets, setting the stage and figuring out the seating….then voila – my moment came….and went.

Sadly, my brother did not get the memo about his role and ended up not take direction very well, so I think I spent most of the production ordering him about, telling him to stop crying, restraining him before he walks off for good, so all there was left to do was BRING ON THE SULK!

As the success rate was below zero, my mum enrolled me into the local acting class on a Saturday morning and I loved it. People took this seriously! It was held in a dark, dingy little theatre at the bottom of the back alley called The Nomad Theatre.

 

My professional acting debut on a proper stage was epic. I was piece of seaweed that danced in a circle with 3 others, but even though the role was incredibly insignificant and probably written just for the four of us, I was the best goddam piece of seaweed. I put my body and soul into it, sadly including my lunch during the last performance (I was very sick, but the performance had to go on). Hmmm, maybe that was why I never got that phone call from a scout.

Since then, I have dipped in and out of acting. I was in the school plays and just for fun I got an acting medal from a top acting school, random!

Since leaving, my theatrical side has never left my soul, but it has been buried deep, mushed down with every food binge I had. The fatter I got, the less likely I was to put myself out there.

I kind of fell back into dipping my sausage toe in when I went to LA to write my book. Whilst I was there, I just had to join in an acting class as it would have been rude not to and I loved it. The acting bug managed to push its way out of the depths of my stomach to my heart and allow me to be open to doing more, despite my size or so I thought.

After I left LA, I came back to London, then bang – we were in lockdown. After the initial panic and me thinking I could be like Mother Theresa by joining the Covid response team at a hospital, I ended up getting a job in London, back to being a personal assistant.

One idle day, I found an email from the acting class I attended in LA offering a group acting online class, so I thought why not?

It was amazing, the tutor was great, and again it made my heart, body, and soul sing. We had to do a warmup which had us repeating the same sentence over and over with a partner but in a certain feeling but in different ways. I somehow kept getting anger. So, there I was in the throes of shouting obscenities in amongst this sentence to my partner on screen when I hear a knock at the door. I ignore it at first but it gets louder. I excuse myself to the class, cautiously open the door, to find concierge standing wide eyed, rubbing the back of his neck, looking like he is just about to wet himself. A giggle escapes me.

He peers behind me to get a sneaky check of my walls to see if there was any blood or if I am or anyone else is holding a weapon.

Upon a satisfactory inspection and reassurance from me, all is okay he departs. What I really wanted to say is “Calm down dear – I’m only acting’ but the look on his pale face, and with the sweat on his face having a riot, I thought to give him a break. Someone had apparently heard me shouting and cussing so they called him to do a welfare check. Fabulous, I thought, I must be bloody good at this.

Weeks pass, lockdown ends, the world opens and the classes leave the online world and resume in person and however much I would LOVE to be in LA, I had to resign and give up.

Fast forward to end of December 2023, another email pops up about a director / actor who is holding a workshop in London to give you feedback on your acting.

Credit card whipped out before I manage to chew and swallow my soup, I sign up. I continue my mission to try something new.

The workshop is good although it seems I am the only person who was pretty fucking clueless that I should have learnt all the lines beforehand and I am sure it, no scrub that of course it did affect my performance. Also, I think the other people were professionals with the hope this director would cast them so they were bloody good.

This of course sent my insecurities into overdrive, But, I was told I did very well. We were sent on our merry way and were informed to look out for an email with the recordings they took.

A few days later, without fail, the email arrives. I nervously open it up, grab some popcorn, a magnum or red wine, get cosy and hit play.

Oh dear fucking lord, sweet baby Jesus – I certainly have talent but not the talent I thought I was showcasing. I want to say my neck was the star of the show but you couldn’t see it as my chins got front and centre, and I put the emphasis on the S – I looked like Jabba the hut’s ugly sister. I could not focus on anything else after seeing that. Scouring more of the recording through my insecure, self-hatred eyes did not allow me to finish watching….So, my acting career has been put on hold until either I am healed of my insecurities for my body or I lose all ten of my chins.

 

I do have to end this on a note to say that I still want to act but just in a way I never have to watch myself anytime soon….and yes, before you all jump down my throat like slabber, I am working on myself and the skewed way I see myself. But, never let insecurities get in the way of your passions.

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