Millie Thorne, alumnus, Theatre Practice and Creative Producing
I achieved high enough grades in three subjects to get accepted to another university but one grade was lower in another subject so they didn’t accept me. I thought “oh no, what do I do?”, I googled, “London university, clearing, theatre” and LSBU popped up as the first result.
I had many opportunities doing my course at LSBU. I gained producing skills, and during the course, I was able to do an internship. I went to New York to do a marketing, acting and producing internship just off 5th Avenue, which gave me real hands-on marketing experience. I also made friends for life. After that, I also interned at The Old Vic. I wouldn’t have been exposed to these things without this course. It gave me the skills to go on and produce. I’m in control of my own work creatively and financially.
I was a full-time student and worked in my second and part of my third year as I needed to give the course some more attention in my final year. I had a bereavement in my final year but LSBU was so supportive which really helped me.
Along with a fellow student, I created the London Short Play Festival in our final year as part of the programme. It went so well and we enjoyed it so much that we did it again after graduating in the Edric Theatre. We were both passionate about producing new writing. We did this in addition to working full time retail jobs. It was a bit stressful and full-on - and we weren’t getting paid for it either! Looking back, I don’t know how we did it. With the support of LSBU and John Grant the performing arts technician, the second festival was also a success.
It's not all about talent
I’m currently working on my own show, Pigeons on L’edge, at the VAULT Festival 2020. It will run between 11-15th March. It’s a comedic play about two pigeons, which explores themes of mental health, and explains the pressures and struggles people face in customer service. Our target audiences are people who work a side job to help achieve what they want to do in life but just can’t yet do it. I think students can relate to this.
There are times I doubt myself especially when it comes to auditioning, but I’ve learnt it’s not all about talent. Casting directors know who they want and if you aren’t it then you aren’t it. Simple. The last year of training has taught me to have a thick skin. You rarely hear that you’re good and you get critiqued all the time. When you do get praise it means the world because you know it’s genuine, and in my field, I deal with rejection 90% of the time. You have to find the coping mechanism to deal with rejection. When I leave an audition I assume I haven’t got the job so I can easily move on to the next thing, the key is to not re-play it in your head and let it go. That’s why it’s important to make your own work. If you don’t get the job, make the job.
I’m a very driven person so I don’t have to look too far for motivation. Once I’ve got my eye on something I want to go get it. It’s the payoff to hard work. I think even if it takes years I will get it done. I have great people around me, my parents are so supportive and tell me to go for it. They taught me it’s a tough world but if you work hard you’ll get what you want. My boyfriend who also went to LSBU, that’s where we met, he’s a great pusher. He’ll say to me “you know what you want to do so just do it.” Seeing him progress with his career and be successful working with companies like Netflix has been inspiring and he’s been a bit of a mentor to me.
Make happiness your priority
A couple years after graduating, I was working as a supervisor in a retail shop, and I saw everyone on social media doing well, and even though we all know no one posts their real life on social, I realised I lacked the motivation to pursue my dream. I needed a push to move on to something else, so I left my job. You have to work to live but you also have to make your happiness a priority. After leaving that job, I got another job in a post-production TV company as a runner and assistant. It was basic pay and a low-level job, but I enjoyed it so much. I met so many people in the industry. After I left there, I did my first summer acting course and never looked back.
The acting industry is cut-throat, so my advice to anyone wanting to get into it is to get as much knowledge and background information as you can. Try to speak to people who have the job you want and ask them how they got there. There are so many different routes to a job, so figure out what route works for you. But my advice for anyone is to try different things and see what sticks.
I consider myself a hard worker so I want to be remembered as a determined and brilliant comedic actress. When you work as hard as I do, you sometimes sacrifice your home life or miss important events. It might end up affecting relationships and potentially delay starting a family. Working hard has impacted my home and social life, and this scares me a little bit.
Being an LSBU alumna means a lot to me as I want to come back and share my journey and experience with current students. I’m different to many people in my industry because I went to university first instead of heading straight to drama school. I want to talk to students about what I got from my Masters at drama school. If you want to be an actor you need professional training, but drama school is so much more than that. It helped so much with my self-confidence, and I know I would have benefitted from speaking to alumni who could tell me about their journey, and about life after graduation.
If you want tickets to Millie's show, you can get them here.
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