Sam Brown

Acting for Contemporary & Devised Performance BA (Hons)

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  • Course Studied: Acting for Contemporary and Devised Performance BA (Hons)
  • Year of Graduation: 2019
  • Current Job title: Actor
  • Organisation/Company: United Agents
  • Industry sector: Entertainment

Your current role

What is your current employment? What responsibilities do you have within the role?

I am a self-employed actor. In terms of responsibilities, I would break it down in to two sections for an actor: there are responsibilities whilst on a job, and then the responsibilities when you’re in-between jobs. There will be a lot more than I’m able to list, but I’ll try to name a few. Whilst on a job, you’re responsible for: meeting the demands of the producers/creators by creating a character which fits in with their vision; working with and taking cues from directors; learning and keeping up to date with the script and lines; research and development – to not only create your character, but to pay respect by not undermining the life/lives you’re representing; and being able to perform at your best under any circumstances. Whilst in-between jobs, you’re responsible for: preparing for and attending auditions, casting meetings and self tapes; continued training on your acting, for example workshops, reading plays, watching movies, learning accents, performing and analysing your own work; keeping up to date with the industry; and networking.

Describe the aspects of your role you find most enjoyable and rewarding, and those you find particularly challenging.

The aspects I find most enjoyable and rewarding within my role are: Research and development – It allows me to constantly learn and discover new things every time I have a new role to play. I have to explore anything and everything which relates to the circumstances and how it effects us as human beings. The research and development is also a constant, even when not preparing for a role, as there is always something to learn and use to your advantage as an actor. Getting to work with a team of people and bring to life what was essentially just an idea and then words on a page. It’s very enjoyable to get to work with like-minded people, who are all motivated to create a beautiful piece of art. There isn’t anything more rewarding than being able to sit together and watch the work we’ve all created and be pleased with the outcome.

The aspects I find challenging are the waiting around in-between jobs – it’s a big emotional rollercoaster that I don’t think you’ll ever fully learn how to deal with. Finishing a job and then having nothing to do and nowhere to be can, at times, feel very lonely, challenging and mentally tiring.

Your University/career journey

Describe your career progression so far, and any plans or hopes you have for the future.

I’ve fortunately had quite a rapid progression in my career, only graduating from UON in 2019. Before I graduated, I’d signed with one of the leading agencies in the country, United Agents, and shortly after that, I landed my first professional role – a small supporting role in Netflix’s Sex Education. Then just after graduating, I’d landed myself the leading role in The Window, a brand new 10 episode TV series which aired in 2021. My next job is a role in Masters of the Air for Apple TV, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. For now, my plan is to keep working on my craft, keep auditioning and hopefully I’ll be able to keep working as an actor for as long as possible. I don’t have a master plan for my life or career, I’m just taking it as it comes, enjoying the ride and trying to better myself along the way.

How do you think that your time at UON helped your career or personal development?

To put it plainly, I wouldn’t have a career without UON. The academic team helped me develop and refine my skills as an artist, but also as an adult. It’s a constant progression of developing both of these that really push you in to the professional industry to be prepared and ready. They helped me to push my boundaries and get out of my comfort zone, which enabled me to become a grounded, all-round artist ready for the industry, as well as an adult ready for the real world.

Which skills and knowledge/understanding gained during your degree are useful in your role?

The most valuable skill I’ve taken away from my degree is the ability to tackle a role from the theoretical to the practical. How you can start to breakdown a character and what process to follow in order to bring character to life from the page. There are endless paths you can take as an actor to develop a role, however the University helped me in finding a process which worked for me. The course was also great for showing us how to succeed in the business side of the industry – how to deal with tax, set up a business, network, and how to create and run a theatre company. Although I haven’t put some of this into practice yet, it’s vital knowledge that you need to succeed. This is something you don’t get taught at a lot of institutes, yet in this day and age it’s extremely valuable.

What did you most enjoy about your course at Northampton?

Getting to spend every day acting. At the time, I didn’t realise how special that was, its only after you leave you begin to realise how lucky you were to have a group of people to create work with every day. Now, that only happens when I’m working in a role, which isn’t always guaranteed.

How would you describe the academic team?

Passionate, caring, dedicated, and motivated, just to name a few. I could go on and on talking about how highly I think of the team who taught me. They all went above and beyond with every lesson they taught me, both as a creative and as a person.

Your advice

What advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this work, e.g. tips on gaining entry, accessing opportunities, anything you wish you’d known earlier?

It all starts with mentality. You need to fully believe in yourself and know that you have something to give to the world with your art. It’s a physically and mentally challenging industry and you need to be ready for the best and worst times of your life, but it all starts with believing in yourself and your goals. Try not to lose the fun and passion you have for you craft, as that’s the most valuable motivation that keeps you moving when times get tough. There are no secrets to gaining entry into the industry, although I wish there was… but if I were to give some advice that isn’t the usual advice of keep training or emailing agents, it would be to create your own work and post it online. We live in a world that spends most of its time in front of a screen, so why not bring your work to them and get seen that way? Not only will you be developing skills in acting, writing, directing and filmmaking, but through social media you’ll be reaching a wider audience than you would just by sending a showreel to a handful of agents. Casting directors, writers and producers are always online looking for the next new thing, so why not make their job easier and give them what they want?

In ten words or less, how would you promote the University of Northampton to prospective students?

A progressive and passionate institute striving to help you grow.

How would you summarise your University of Northampton experience?

Three years of hard work, but also great fun. I had the most enjoyable moments of my life at UON but, at the same time, the most testing and challenging – all which shaped me to be the person I am today. I don’t regret a single second of my time at Northampton and will cherish the memories for a lifetime. You really do get out what you put in – you give 100% and the University will give you 110%.