THE FIRST EVER business day of the West and South West London Equity Branch.
The brain child of our Branch Chair, actor Andrew Macbean, our first Business Day at The Seven Dials Club in the heart of Covent Garden has been a Success. Over 100 members attended to hear guest speakers presenting talks and offering guidance and tips on working in the curious, brutally wonderful acting industry.
The guest speakers for the day began with Andrew Tidmarsh, author of “Attitude to Acting”. Andrew does not waste time. He’s all about getting to the point. He asked all the actors in the room to be honest with themselves: “what have you done in the last 24 hours, 48 hours, the last week, to further your acting dreams?” His advice on the key to success? “focus, self belief and hunger”. Brilliant. Andrew’s honesty inspires. It’s not necessarily about talent…can you find the confidence to be comfortable in your own skin? He also passed on the enlightenment of Hootsuite.com – life and time saver for organising my social media existence- what a great guy, half the room immediately followed him on Twitter. Next was Samantha Baines, comedic actress and creator of “Penguin in the Room” (a social media advice service aimed at actors) . Well, who doesn’t need more help and guidance on social media management? This session was really useful and for some of our older members who are having to catch up with all the tweeting and platforms such as vimeo (“vimi-what now?” someone cried). One member made his first tweet during the day – good eh?! (mind you, he hasn’t tweeted since…).
The last two speakers were photographer Michael Wharley who gave a talk about headshots – the history of the headshot, what makes a good one and the expectations of today. We finally had the warm and positive-talking Beverly Hills – actress and freelance career counsellor. Beverly spoke about the nuts and bolts of getting work. She knew she was not telling us anything we hadn’t heard before and simply wanted to inspire and empower. We were fortunate to have her at the business day – we all need a pep-talk every now and then!
In addition to our guest speakers giving all this free advice, we had industry guests doted around at tables where people could gather around and have a chat. Our “round-table” guests included casting director Polly Hootkins, agent Rachel Mohi from Narrow Road, Paul Fleming of Equity talking about Equity’s policy on the Our Theatre Matters campaign and representatives from Spotlight (who also provided us with goody bags – I just love their pens, they’re so gd). We ALSO had guests and members sharing information about working in the world of radio and voice over, tips on self-taping and corporate role play work.
Led by member actor George Weightman a tech team was set up to help people with all sorts including researching on-line and social media tips. Some members that have worked in the USA prepared information sheets and hosted a table to talk about their experience. There was even Tax and NI advice available.
The Seven Dials Club perfectly accommodated us throughout, such a great venue.
Equity brings us all together but it is the spirit and action of its members that drives us forwards. I’m proud to be an active part of my union via the best branch, West & South West London.
We’re a busy branch always trying to do the best for our members, running auditions days and workshops throughout the year: if you want to follow-us or get in touch and get involved – we’d love to have you!
Visit us on Facebook, like and post on our page to people who care, if it’s about art, we’re interested! https://t.co/UQsBZmQWoJ
— Equity W&SW London (@EquityWSWLondon) April 28, 2014
As chief of social media for the branch, I spent most of the day eating biscuits and tweeting…but here’s some pictures of other people talking to each other rather than spending the whole day with their phone as I was.