What did you study?
BA Theatre and Performance (Acting)
What exactly does your job require you to do?
The basic requirement of being an actor is to prepare and perform a character either in a live performance for an immediate audience or for a film or television camera, where your performance is recorded. There are however, many other aspects of your job; In South Africa, for instance, there are almost no opportunities for actors to be permanently employed, so most actors are freelancers, who work from job to job; this means you are constantly auditioning for roles. Auditioning is a skill in itself. Then there is the administration of yourself as a business, because even though it's just you, you have to run your career like a small business.
How did you end up doing what you do?
I always dreamed of being an actor; it was always the thing I was naturally good at, I felt like everything I did I was ok at, and could be good at if I tried, but with acting I felt like I could make a unique contribution. I took a year out after school to be sure (you have to be sure with this business as its incredibly tough) and then I went and studied for four years at the University of Cape Town.
What are the pros of your job?
You get to do what you love and get paid for it. You get to work and connect with people all the time. Living your life, new experiences, observing the world and getting to know yourself very well are all part of your job! You use your whole body and mind, so it's a very healthy kind of job. When you do well, audiences often respond with praise and interest, and that is fulfilling. There is always a chance you will hit the big time and be famous, if that's your thing. Even if you don't, the work is very fulfilling.
What makes your job really interesting?
What makes being an actor interesting is creating characters from the world around you; observing the people you encounter and asking yourself questions about why they behave the way they do and what they really want. Researching and building characters is one of the most exciting parts of the job. Then there is the rehearsal process when you get to try out different ways of playing the character, it's like being a kid again.
What isn't all that nice about your line of work?
There is almost never any guarantee of work and therefore income, you have to have a lot of patience and tenacity to pull through the times when work isn't knocking on your door. Even if you land a lead in a soapie on TV, you don't know when they will write your character out, or simply not renew your contract. As most actors are creatives, learning how to manage the time when you are not employed is very important, so that you stay positive and able to do great work when the auditions come.
What would you recommend a matric learner study after school, should they be interested in pursuing the same career?
Being a good actor requires being in touch with your instincts, so ask yourself if you would be happy doing anything else other than acting, and only if the answer is no should you pursue acting. There is so much that will knock you down in this career path, you have to want it more than anything. Once clear, audition for all the top drama schools and study at the best one you can.
What other advice would you give a matric learner who wants to pursue the same career?
Don't underestimate the importance of full time intensive acting training. Be wary of colleges whose focus is film making and not acting. University acting programs are more demanding and harder to get into because they are better training. Again, there are so many obstacles and so many others wanting what you want, so get the best training you can. The connections you make and the discipline and self knowledge you'll learn in these years will be as, if not more, valuable as the acting training.
What is your career/life mantra?
Work with integrity
If you stay true to yourself, you will be a better actor. If you work with integrity, people will respect you. Your reputation and how you feel about yourself are two of the most important ingredients to your continued success.
Where can we follow you?
Sure, you can follow me on various platforms:
- @francischouler on Twitter - Tweet your questions and I'll answer.
- My Facebook Page - facebook.com/Francis.Chouler.Actor
- Subscribe to FrancisChoulerActor on YouTube