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The Essentials
An actor and two actresses smiling at the back of a wooden room while they wait to perform.

Image credit: Joanna Nicole Photography

A look at the acting goals and aspirations of our Spotlight Prize 2023 winners and finalists.

The aspirations of actors can be as varied as their talents. Some performers dream of stardom and their name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, others want to be the representation they didn’t see on screens as children, or someone that’s enjoyable to work with on set.

Whatever your goals, it’s undeniable that they will shape your journey and define what success looks like to you. It’s therefore important to be realistic when thinking about the future, and consider what achievements would be truly meaningful for you.

At the Spotlight Prize 2023, we spoke to our winners and finalists about what kind of performer they’d like to be. Do you have a similar goal to them with your own acting career? Here’s what they shared:

An Actor People Want to Work With

For many of our finalists, becoming an actor who others enjoy, and even look forward to working with, is the ideal. The performing arts is an industry where connections and having a good reputation are just as important as being a brilliant actor.

Chiara McDougall: “I think, more than anything else, I want to be someone that’s easy to work with. Someone that’s really open and warm, and takes direction, and listens to other people’s opinions. Just bringing a bit of life to the room is always helpful.”

Darcy Braimoh: “[I want] to be nice, caring, genuine, and just be able to work in a way that someone’s like, ‘Wow, that was great. I had a great time. Let’s get them back in.’”

Charlotte Delima: “[I want to be] someone people want to work with, because at the end of the day, why would anyone want to work with someone who’s difficult? I want to be a working actor.”

An Actor Among a Community

Acting is definitely not a solo career. It’s all about meeting new people, building relationships, and finding a community to thrive in. Once you’ve found your people, they’ll be there to support and encourage you throughout your career, so finding a community will definitely help if you’re planning to make a home in this industry.

Ria McLeod: “I hope to be an honest actor, a giving, connected, collaborative [actor]. I like to work with a group of people, a community.”

Arnold Patrick Lumu: “I want to be the kind of actor who goes in the room, auditions, but also, if I’m at home, I’m able to create my own stuff and have a community of people I can talk to and maybe meet up, where you go to a pub and just share some stuff.”

A Full-Time Actor

One of the hardest things you face as an actor is the lack of regular performing work. Not having a steady income can lead to stress about financial stability, worries about the future, and uncertainty about whether you should continue to pursue acting or get a full-time job somewhere else. Being at the stage where you can support yourself solely through acting is a wonderful dream, and one our next finalists strive for:

Jess Gough: “For me, I just want to be able to do what I love and be able to only do that. Whether it’s theatre, or TV, or film, to just be able to make enough money to be able to do that solely.”

Olivia Chandler: “If I have one line in Paddington 3, then I will be happy. I’d love to be someone that’s working consistently, and I love comedy as well. I would love to be a comedic performer, but yeah, anything that comes at me, to be honest.”

A Renowned Actor

It isn’t difficult to think of examples of great performers, and many of our finalists would love to have their names added to this list through their skills and memorable performances. 

Öncel Camci: “I just want people to believe in me, and believe in what I say, and believe in what my character is going through.”

Olivia Michi Shrenzel: “I want to be an actor that isn’t inhibited by a certain cookie cutter stereotype. I don’t want to be boxed in a certain genre. I feel like I want to do loads of different projects: small scale, big scale, theatre, screen, short film, voice overs – all of it!”

Riess Fennell: “I want to make a mark on the industry. I want to be up there with the greatest, that have made astonishing performances, and, hopefully, I can create one of my own.”

Kurtis Thompson: “I think to just try and do as much as I can across the board […] across as many platforms as possible to learn as much as possible. And just never limit myself, hopefully.”

Chelsie Lockwood: “[I want to be] truthful, living in the moment, and just embodying every character that comes my way and not plastering any other expectations or any other judgement onto it. And just being free and playful and playing with the character.”

Lillia Squires: “I want to make people feel how I would feel when I went to the theatre when I was growing up. I just hope that I have that same effect when people come out of the theatre and they’re just like, “Oh, wow, that was surreal.” I hope people think that about me.”

Shannon Watson (Screen Prize winner): “Every time that I get up and I perform, I try to be as fearless as possible and take risks.”

An Inspiration to Young Actors

Historically, the performing arts industry hasn’t been the most inclusive environment. This is definitely changing in the UK, but many actors will have grown up without seeing themselves represented on the stage and screen. It’s therefore not surprising that our next finalists want to rectify that and inspire the next generation of actors from their respective backgrounds.

Lucas Albion: “I think I’d love to be an actor that inspires somebody else to take up the craft of acting, as so many other people have, for myself, especially people from similar backgrounds – working class northern areas that don’t necessarily receive the same kind of artistic opportunities.”

Amy Tara: “Growing up, I never saw many people that looked like me or had my sort of heritage or my sort of background. I think I’d like to be that type of person where the younger generation can see themselves on screen or on stage and think that’s also what they want to do.”

Still Searching for an Answer

It’s not the end of the world if you’re not sure what kind of actor you’d like to be – whatever age! Your acting career will hopefully be a long and fruitful one, and you’ll have all that time to figure it out. Perhaps you’ll be the first to set out with a certain type of aspiration, or maybe inspiration will come later down the road?

Or, if you’re like our final finalist, defining your aspiration won’t be as important as enjoying the experiences that acting brings your way. 

Megan Kennelly: “I don’t know, I’m just loving the journey that I’m on. I think [what kind of actor you want to be] changes day to day based on the experiences that you’re having or the opportunities that come about. It’s just [about] enjoying each opportunity that we’re getting and going from there and seeing what happens with it.”

Whatever your goal, Spotlight is here to support you in any way we can, whether that be providing you with tips for essential skills like self-taping and auditions, or offering advice on finding an agent or standing out to casting professionals.

Take a look at our website for more video interviews and acting advice, or get in touch if there’s anything else you need help with.