We asked Charlotte Anne-Tilley to reflect upon her journey to becoming an actor/writer prior to opening with her show Almost Adult at the Edinburgh Fringe.
There isn’t just one path, there are infinite paths
The creation of my solo show Almost Adult has meant a lot to me. It is about a real-life experience of workplace sexual harassment, of being out of one’s depth in a big city, and it is drawn from a time in my life when I was struggling to make sense of the world around me. But, since this is a self-penned piece, I’d love to talk about something that I haven’t covered yet: the empowerment that this show has brought me as an artist, and the beauty that can come when actors create their own work.
As actors, we are constantly reminded that this is a very hard industry. From auditions to workshops, it seems everyone's catchphrase is, “Only act if there's literally nothing else you can do” or “You know, only 2% of actors are actually working”. There's an assumption that actors can't be in the driving seat of our own careers and are reliant on others for their success. We have been fed a narrative that we don't have autonomy and are doomed to sit on our sofas until someone else finally decides we are good enough. Far too early, many actors give up. Possibly, because all they've ever been told is that the acting industry is just too hard and they will never make it. That the balls in someone else's court. This is an ideology I was fed at drama school, and it is a pretty miserable mindset to find yourself in.
However, like many of the other thousands of artists that head up to Edinburgh Fringe each year, I had a feeling there was another way. Maybe I didn’t have to sit on my sofa and wait. Maybe I could get out there and tell my stories; put some of my thoughts out into the world. So, I began the journey from actor to actor-writer.
And, yes, there was a lot of trial and error. No one can learn how to write overnight and it is pretty likely that you will create some not great shows before you create the show. Almost Adult has been three years in the making, and it is my fourth play.
But, truly, Almost Adult has pushed me so hard to grow as an artist. It brought me to EdFringe, it led me to being one of the key spokespeople for #FemiFringe (I now host and produce the #FemiFringe Podcast which is sponsored by The Skinny) and it led me to meeting some wonderfully inspiring creatives. It has also given me way more career opportunities than the alternative of waiting for auditions. And now, I am a published playwright! Which seemed a million miles away a few years ago… It wasn’t even on my radar.
So, If you’re like I was, you may be sweating at the mere question ‘What are you up to at the moment?’ if you are in your third year at drama school or university, and you’re panicking and thinking "What the hell do I do now? I have nothing coming up!" my message to you is this… even though it’s sometimes hard to see, there isn’t just one path, there are infinite paths. Just keep ploughing away, and eventually, people will sit up and listen.