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The journey thus far… it’s long.
JOB BLOG 1: - THE SNOWBALL EFFECT
It’s 1999 all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is act. It’s been 3 months since I left Uni to try acting for a year (In my naivety, I thought a year was enough) I’m about to start the pilot of Metrosexuality which is called Heterosexuality and I think I’m untouchable.
How very wrong I was.
So basically I’d been working in a gym and I heard that a guy I know a bit, director Rikki beadle Blair https://twitter.com/RikkiBB is gonna shoot the pilot of his show.
I asked if I could audition because the whole point of me going full time in the gym was to try and get into acting somehow with a flexible job like this I could get it done. I was kind of too old to play a 16 year old, but he told me if I could look young then I could go along.
Cue-shaving face-head and legs (shut up)
Anyway, because there is only so far a gym wage can take you, after bills and living, and because for whatever reason I’d spent a lot of money that month, I could only really get a bus one way.
I decided to get the bus there so I wouldn’t arrive sweaty. I smacked the audition and was walking home when I got the call that the CH4 producers were happy for me to be the lead. I had no agent or anything but it was a job… A start.
Weirdly though, I thought that was it. Like a lot of young actors do, I thought that was it, and once you were in you would just be doing films and TV whenever you wanted. I never really thought about the rejection after rejection, after rejection, after rejection, after rejection, after rejection, after rejection, that you get as an actor. Truth is 90% of actors don’t work.
It’s hard. You have to want it, because it’s you. Because it’s all you are… Not for fame or money or anything like that. It has to be a part of you.
Anyway, so the job itself was great. I didn’t think it would ever become a series, but after the pilot channel 4 commissioned a 6 part series and Metrosexuality was born.
It was a vibrant colourful show straight from Rikki’s mind. he acted, wrote and starred in it and it is from him that I take a lot of my work ethic. It was also the first time I met a mr Mark Davis (4321) and a young lady called https://twitter.com/preeyakalidas
Being a multi cultural, multi sexual show, the show itself caused some controversy and I had a lot of shallow so called friends dropped off, not really wanting to associate with guy in the “gay” show.
It was tough round the manor and I did think about not doing it. I was never scared to be an individual, my mum taught me that. But that’s when me and my real boys, actively started our fuck em mindset. “it ain’t even an issue, you ain’t with me, I do my thing myself”. (Big Up PHIL, DES, GEOFF, and DAVIE)
So once I came to my senses my mindset was this. In the future are any of these people telling me not to do this job going to pay my bills for me?
NO! So Fuck em! (more on them hater… Sorry later)
So I did what I wanted to do. I did the show and enjoyed every minute of it. I still chat to Rikki and still shout him in interviews. If it wasn’t for him putting his faith in a gym instructor/wanna be actor I would not be here today. (maybe literally) I definitely wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing.
I love the show… it was the beginning of my career, and once I realised that unless you land lord of the rings, no first job is really gonna put you where you strive to be… It was a learning experience that was the beginning of my plans.
Metrosexuality - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0212216/
JOB BLOG 2: - SHORT AND SHORTER
So it’s 1999-2000 and after playing the lead in the 6 part series Metrosexuality which has just come out. I thought I’d just get acting jobs. Like most actors, i thought that’s what would happen and of course thought i was good enough.
There was no acting work after filming it, and no acting work after it came out. so after filming it I was straight back in the gym hustling and working my arse off, cleaning peoples sweat of gym machines, doing programmes and training etc.
This was also the time I started really thinking about taking my writing seriously. I had always written stuff but didn’t really know how to properly write a script. I knew that I wasn’t getting acting work, but even looking at the things that were on TV and film I was thinking would I really wanna be doing that or something like…? I didn’t know what but knew that it had to be different.
I bought a whole bunch of screenplays, saved up for a while, bought screenwriting software and started writing a few things, a few ideas. The first script I wrote was with my mate Geoff (BIG UP GEOFF) and started life being called Remembering Jessie and ended up being called the perfect little life. It’s still sitting on my laptop.
Maybe I’ll let you read it one day.
Anyway I was beginning to think about going back to Uni when… Rikki beadle blair saved me… again.
He was the one that gave me my first ever job… (read JOB BLOG 1) He came back to me with two short films. The first he wrote but didn’t direct. It was called NATIVE. I played a Jamaican immigrant in the UK in the 60’s it was based on his life and I was in it with Will Johnson.
The second, he directed. It was written by a bunch of students for the big breakfast short film competition and was called TAKE2 it starred me,https://twitter.com/preeyakalidas and a young man called https://twitter.com/Ashleywalters82 yep, I’ve known him that long. Not a lot of people know that.
People have tried to play us against each other over the years… but you know what, he’s a legend. you all failed. I ain’t a hater I like and respect him more than most because he’s real, if it was not for him a lot of films that people love, a lot of opportunities that certain people have had, including me, would never have happened so BIG UP ASH! Always.
Anyway… with the hype of Metrosexuality and two short films… I decided to try and get an agent. I got my head shots done, bought a book called contacts and sent 50 tapes and headshots out to the agents out there in London and another 15 to casting directors.
I only got 2 replies from agents… Only one of them wanted to take me on, so I went with them.
I was now an actor with an agent… Surely things were gonna change now right?
JOB BLOG 3: - DOING THE ROUNDS: PT 1
ALMOST Not even near FAMOUS Known
It’s late 2000. I’ve finally got an agent. In all honesty they were the only people out of 50 agents I approached that were willing to give me a shot. (And although I’m not with them now, I still love them; spoke to them a couple of days ago).
Anyway I’m thinking that after doing Metrosexuality and the two short films that things are about to change for me. But they’re not really, the agent is great, but it’s not about them, It’s kind of about, Nobody wants to take a meeting with the untrained guy who has 3 little jobs on his CV.
A few people did actually see me and they know who they are and I’m very thankful to them to this day. Then of course their were the couple that saw me and looked at my almost blank CV and turned it over to look at the other side as if there would be 100 more jobs on the flipside. That shit hurt the most, but it toughens you, makes you look em dead in the eye, like WHAT?!
Getting auditions was tough. I was still happily working in the gym, and I realised that it was like this for the vast majority of actors, but while a lot of people were moaning, some people seemed like they were doing something about it. I wanted to be one of those people. I had already written one script (See JOB BLOG 2) but did I really wanna write for a living? “I’m an actor damn-it” and how would anything I write ever get made? Was thinking maybe i should just go back to uni an quit it all.
But low and behold I manage to get a few auditions, but everything was always. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Let me tell you something now, if you are gonna be in this biz, you are gonna hear the word NO A lot. It comes in different forms…
…Like this – “it’s not gonna work this time – You’re not quite right – They’re going in a different direction – They loved you but …“ Bottom line is though that it’s all the same thing.
It can be frustrating, but that’s the way it is. What I advise and what i started doing was asking for feedback… When my agent told me I didn’t get something I’d ask why? What did i do wrong? Or more importantly, what did i not do right? Be warned Agents aren’t always given feedback, it’s time consuming for all involved if they have to do that for everyone, but my agent asked for me and I started getting feedback that I feel helped me improve.
Then one day, I got an audition for THE BILL. Now for a guy that had never got a job that Rikki beadle blair wasn’t connected to, this was a big deal. I travel down do my audition do my thing and head back to the gym. (To work, not train)
A few days later I got the call. I was on THE BILL. Two weeks later I was on set filming. Playing my mate and still a mate to this day, although apart from the occasional lunch I barely ever seen him and we never really hang out was a young and very, very talented https://twitter.com/#!/REGYATES Look at him now. BIG LOVE REG!
So that was my first job out there on my own, and they filmed so quickly it was pretty scary. I thought I was great, I see it now and obviously I was shit. But the bill is/or was part of the learning curve in this country; most people have passed through there at some point.
Not long after I got a tiny bit on WAKING THE DEAD… two scenes, again working with Will Johnson. Someone who was very supportive of me, and someone I hooked up at a later date. Again, I was shit in it, but I was still learning. (That is no excuse, just a reason)
Then another little job, this time, playing the friend of the daughter, in a pilot called JUDGE JOHN DEEDS… I was in a scene with a young man Called JAMES CORDEN and of course Martin Shaw. The scene ended up getting cut I think.
So I’d done 3 more jobs. Tiny ones, but all things that were all considered stepping-stones. Surely now things would take off? HA HA! You may think so, but I’m afraid that’s just not the way it works for barely anyone and only my naivety thought that it did. I was sure I could do more, but wasn’t being given the chance. So I just kept doing my shifts at the gym.
P.S… I started also started planning out a little script based on me and my friends growing up, in and around Ladbroke grove. We weren’t bad kids #Notaganster but had seen stuff. Couldn’t think of a clever name so decided on calling it KiDULTHOOD. Kids growing up before their time into adults (It’ll never catch on). it was relevant to me growing up and the kids now a days. Didn’t think anyone would like it though, it was really just for me.
THE BILL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0525037/
WAKING THE DEAD: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0743350/
JUDGE JOHN DEEDS: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0302128/
JOB BLOG 4: - DOING THE ROUNDS: PT 2
BIGGER THE FALL THE HIGHER THE BOUNCE (but not for me)
Early 2001… I was on a down. I was starting to get frustrated. Why wasn’t I getting seen for the jobs? Why couldn’t I get work? The agent didn’t have an answer. I knew what the answer was. It wasn’t their fault; the jobs simply weren’t there. I wasn’t even half a name in the business, I had nothing really going on and I was simply not good enough. Honestly sometimes as an unemployed actor you really have to think about quitting and getting a proper job. This part of 2001 was one of those times.
I was still at the gym, people asked me all the time when are you gonna do this? How is that? What are you on next? It was embarrassing, you feel like you have to say that you are just waiting for the right thing or that you are writing stuff. I was. You see family and friends at events and they ask you, what are you working on now? And you say the same thing but really you just can’t get a fucking job.
I kept auditioning and eventually I landed a 3 episode part on CASUALTY. I was happy about that but you go do your thing and leave. Most of the regulars were absolutely lovely; Adjoa Andoh for example (who I would work with again) but some treat you like… Well I won’t say, but I left there thinking I can do more than this. Why am not getting the work I want? And it played in my head over, and over, and over, and over again.
I was still writing and by now KiDULTHOOD was written but just sort of sitting on my computer. I’d also co-written a wedding film called the THE KNOT with some friends and a short called LICKS, but as nothing was happening at all my friends and I decided to produce LICKS ourselves, starring me and http://twitter.com/#!/ortisdeley among others. It was a steep learning curve and we spent a lot of money we didn’t have, money that a gym instructor couldn’t afford. Times got tough, but I at least felt I’d taken control and done something for myself instead of waiting for others, and you know what? I liked it.
I then landed a few other small roles, one in a short called THE LAST ANGEL and a one episode guest spot on a US show called ADVENTURES INC - Things I was happy about getting, but things that made me realise even more that if I was to do anything good, anything great in this business I would have to try and do it myself. But then I got a call that made me think my luck was about to change.
A certain channel was making a new 6-part Cop show, with an old cop and a young new cop. And they’d seen Metrosexuality and wanted me to be the young cop. I couldn’t believe it. No audition, nothing, this job was mine. I went in and met the people and it was all-good. I was beside myself; finally I was getting what I thought in my head I deserved. It all started getting set up; the producers were nice and then one day in prep they switched directors and the new director wanted me to suddenly come and read for them.
WTF?? I was so confused; I thought this was my job. They assured me it was and that she just wanted to get my vibe. I go and read, she nodded, smiled, shook my hand and I left. Two days later my agent got a letter saying that I no longer had the job and perhaps I should consider going to acting classes.
I was at my lowest point…. I was broke, I was not getting any auditions, and even jobs I had I was getting kicked off. My mum wanted to know when I was getting a proper job, my girl couldn’t keep supporting me and on top of that, I was told I should go and take classes. I WAS SIMPLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I vowed that would get those producers back in my head. (I hold grudges. That’s how I roll. It drives me)
Days, weeks, months went by with nothing, no calls, and no auditions except for cattle call advert auditions where they really make you feel shit. Jumping around like a lunatic, for nothing
I’d never given up on anything in my life but I was getting older and I was beginning to think that although acting was everything to me, I didn’t mean shit to it… I was thinking I needed to get a real job or maybe go back to uni, I was thinking maybe I should quit.
Then the phone rang.
THE LAST ANGEL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318396/
ADVENTURES INC: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0505562/
JOB BLOG 5: - BEING SHIT AND WRITING HITS:
Mid-2001. Months in and I hadn’t worked yet, well a bit, but not on anything that I’d be proud of. Nothing you’d tell your children you’d done or talk about at family gatherings when the smug relatives who said acting was a stupid profession asked, “What are you working on?”
I’d been writing a lot and my little story that I wrote for me, based a bit on my life and mostly about today’s young people was finished. I called it ‘Kidulthood’ but a lot of people didn’t like the name, a lot of people couldn’t say the name and kept saying kid-adulthood, which still pisses me off to this day.
Truthfully, there weren’t many jobs around, even more truthfully I was nowhere near good enough. I was shit. I couldn’t afford drama school so accessed emotions and things differently, I had to learn how to make my techniques work in auditions and on camera and I hadn’t quite mastered it yet. Don’t know if you ever do or if I ever will. Actors can put in great performances but you never see the 20 shit takes we do before the good one because the director and editor only put the best one in.
Then the phone rang, an audition for the soap ‘Family Affairs.’ Now this may sound like the most ungrateful thing you will ever read after moaning about not getting auditions, but I really didn’t want to go. It wasn’t that I disliked the show, I didn’t really watch it, it was more my naivety or arrogance depending on your opinion. In my mind I’d seen more for myself than being in a soap especially one that wasn’t the main two. So I went to the audition and did my thing and a few days later I get the call.
I GOT THE JOB!
My agent was ecstatic she had already started talking money and it was a fair bit. The type of figure that my mum (who was a nurse) would have to work full time for 3 years to get and my friends I went to university with, now in decent jobs would have to work 2 years to get. Family and friends wanted me to do it, my agent wanted me to do it, my mum wanted me to do it, but I didn’t.
I didn’t want to do it. At the time financially it was hard for a broke gym-instructor wannabe actor to say no, but in my mind, I knew I had to. So I did. I said No! A few people were pissed off but I had a vision of where I could be. A plan and that wasn’t a part of it. My girl and my real boys backed me 100% and so that was that. Back to the grind, back to the gym.
Not long after I got an audition for a play at the Oval House called ‘TALKING ABOUT MEN’. It was directed by a guy called Steven Lucky, it was the second touring run of the play about male relationships and I was to play a lead part as a gay man hanging out in sauna. Now I’m not homophobic but I was young and this was a tough choice for me. I had all sorts of people saying I had no stage experience and I was determined to get it, then a play comes up that has me naked and smooching a dude on stage for a month. I couldn’t sleep for days. I’m a pure heterosexual fanny-loving, booby-feeling, lady-shagging guy so I agonised for a while on this until almost a week later my agent called and said they need an answer now!
I was on the phone in silence then thought, man up Clarke… Do you want to be an actor? Or do you want to be a guy who says he’s wants to be an actor but not in anything that challenges him. I want to be challenged. It was as tough for me as was not taking the money on the soap but this was a challenge that meant I would know if I was actually cut out for this, or not. Will Smith did it in ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ Hilary Swank had everything out and did all sorts in ‘Boys don’t Cry.’ Who the fuck am I? “Fuck it, I’ll do it.” I said. Agent was well chuffed.
I did the play and toured the country and loved it. Hated smooching the guy, but as a character, people never knew that and were surprised that I was straight when speaking to the actors in the bar afterwards. BRAP!! The performance of my short career so far.
So now things were gonna get better? Not really. Back in the gym again, broke as a joke again and not much going on again, still not getting TV or film castings and almost back to square 1. So to stop myself going mad I re-wrote KiDULTHOOD and it became 70% of what it is today. All I could think was if I could play a part like Trife in Kidulthood then people will see that I really can act.
Someone please just gimme a chance, just gimme a chance, just gimme a chance, just gimme ONE chance.
Another month or so went by then I got a call. 2 auditions this week. One for another part in ‘Family Affairs’ apparently they still liked me and now wanted me for another part and the other was for the re-make of a show called ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet.’
I had been doing a few classes at the actors centre and had really worked on sight-reading which I was pretty good at anyway, so I went to both auditions really relaxed. I’ve never been the nervous type in auditions but had learnt how to prepare and really show that I was interested in learning as much as putting my point across.
The main point and something I think you should always be aware of is that in an audition you should be able to take direction. If you’ve practiced the scene one way then walk into the room and they want it another way, change on the spot. Change immediately to what they want. Piss or get off the pot, simple.
So I went and did the auditions. I remember thinking that ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’ was just a remake with a new cast, not that it was actually with the original legends and that the only new member was the part I was up for.
I did them both… and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited. ‘Family Affairs’ came back first. Another offer. I was happy but just the same situation as before but with money getting tighter and me getting older I was actually considering it this time but I held out hoping for my one chance, hoping I would get ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet.’ Hoping, still waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Any of you that are actors and go and do auditions know that you spend a lot of time waiting. From the moment you walk out of an audition you have 2 choices. Replay it in your head, or block it out. I’m a block it out guy, but either way, you’re still waiting. So that’s what I did… that’s what I still do.
Then I got the call. They wanted me. One question. Can you drive? Fucking shit, shitty shit shit… I didn’t have a license. (I was familiar with cars, is all I can say here, but I didn’t have a license) My agent told me “you are the number 1 choice but they need you to drive, if you can pass your test in 3 weeks the jobs yours.” My response. “Oh fuck”
I made my to do list
- Book lessons√
- Book theory test√
- Start lessons√
- Get on driving test cancelations list √
- Pass the cunt (pending)
To be fair they never asked me if I could drive, so this was a surprise. But if they had asked, I would’ve said yes anyway. Actors have a habit of saying they can do anything to get a job.
Can you box? “Yes”
Can you swim well? “Of course”.
Can you sky dive? “Yeah”.
Ever fought a hippo? “Sure”.
Swam with sharks? “Have done”.
Did you kill the dinosaurs? “I was there, so learnt how to do it”.
Word of advice to actors, don’t lie about what you can do - unless you are willing to get it done. A director buddy of mine told me recently about a short film he cast where the lead actor said he could play something well and when they got on set, he couldn’t. The director’s not happy and said he’s telling everyone he meets.
That shit can come back to haunt you, so either don’t lie, or if you do - the time between getting the job and filming - go out of your fucking mind to learn. Long story short I passed my test and got the job.
The chance that I’d been asking for was here, but was it everything I thought it would be?
JOB BLOG 6 – QUAIL EGGS AND RED ROCK MOUNTAINS
Get all news about everything clarke here.
Thanks for reading. Hope it spurs you on to keep going! More to come soon.