Meet our much loved, multi-talented member Alexis. When she’s not busy filming or treading the boards, you’ll find Alexis writing at WorkShop (typically surrounded by giant post-it notes!) Alexis tells us all about her path into acting and writing, her inspirations and the fallacy of a linear career progression in the arts…
How did you get into acting and writing?
“It certainly wasn’t a family affair – I didn’t know anyone who worked in the creative industry growing up. I just had an overriding, innate feeling that I had to go into that line of business. I’m from a single parent, working class background, so the deal was I had to go and get a degree first (I was the first in my family to go to university) and then I could pursue my dreams. As it so happens, I got a degree in English Literature, and then went to drama school to study acting, and both of those served me extremely well. Then it’s a case of getting represented by agents – I’m represented both here and in the US for work. Of course, I’m missing out the most important bits in between – working in real estate, as a TV runner, a waitress, a credit controller….I could go on – all those holding jobs you have to do before your career actually kicks off.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“Actually, those ‘holding’ jobs were really important for that…great inspiration. After all, a plot is about a character trying to get somewhere, or something. Really anything can kick an idea off. I always worry I’m going to run out of new ideas, and then more come along. I’m a member of the London Library, which is a phenomenal resource for every subject you can imagine. Family dynamics is another great area to mine…People you meet. I’ve worked a number of times with Oscar-nominated director Mike Leigh. For his films and plays, you create a character through improvisation, but it always starts in essence from a person, or people, that you know.”
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
“It’s never the same, each day might be different. Although the flip side of that is, it can be precarious. But each job I do, I make new and fascinating friends. I think that’s a gift…to keep meeting like-minded, creative people. And to sit in the theatre, or cinema, watching an audience laugh, or cry, at something you’ve made – there’s nothing quite like it.”
What’s been the biggest learning of your career so far?
“It’s not a meritocracy. I know brilliant, talented people who never quite made it. It’s not a fair industry. It’s got a long way to go in terms of diversity and gender equality. Women are nowhere near being properly represented….the fight still goes on.”
What do you like about being a member at WorkShop?
“I love how creative it feels. Walking past all the designers downstairs is so inspiring. And there’s a wonderful air of calm, which I need when I’m writing. Also…coffee!”
Do you have any words of wisdom for actors and writers just starting out?
“People can get very hung up about career progression. In reality, there are very few people who do what I do who can plot a career path. It will naturally ebb and flow, or go ways you haven’t predicted. There will always be people doing ‘better’ than you, and there’ll be a ton of people who’d chew their arm off to be doing what you do, so save yourself the angst and just enjoy where you are. Oh, and write emails/letters to people in the industry you’d like to work with. Some of those letters will end up in the trash, but one of those letters might just get you a job!”
Alexis is represented by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates in the UK and Paradigm in the US for writing, and for acting she is represented by United Agents and Just Voices.