By Siobhan Coleman
Graduate, 2017, School of English
Stepping out of our comfort zones can be a daunting challenge for most of us, however I am going to discuss the fantastic benefits of saying yes to a new experience.
I, alongside some second year students had the opportunity of representing the School of English. We were invited to interview the actor Simon Callow at the Birmingham and Midlands Institute. Despite this being an incredible opportunity, we all felt very nervous as this was a first time experience for us all. Many fears were circulating all of our minds. What will he be like? Will he be difficult to talk to? Will he be down to earth or standoffish? The truth is none of us had any idea what to expect, however the outcome of the day turned out to be to the most unlikely scenario.
The first thing I want to discuss is just the sheer enjoyment of the day itself. The afternoon started by us having to get to the venue itself, this was a twenty minute walk, a great way for all of us to get to know each other. The Birmingham and Midlands Institute is a beautiful building, home to a private members library, a theatre, and an exquisite tea rooms. Having no reason to normally visit such a place, it is clear that we all felt quite lucky to get to go behind the scenes and explore this stunning architecture. We also got to view a handwritten letter from the legend that is Charles Dickens, for any English student, this was absolutely mesmerising.
Not only was the afternoon a lot of fun for us all, but we all also gained a lot of new skills. To get involved with anything extracurricular is a great bonus for your CV. As a recent graduate, I have found that a lack of experience is one of the biggest downfalls in the search for a job. This is why it is so important to get involved in every possible experience and broaden your skill set. The students that attended the day are involved in the School of English newspaper. What could be more exciting than to write about an interview with a famous actor!
Despite all of our apprehensive expectations, the interview itself was an absolute breeze. Simon Callow was extremely friendly and charming. As soon as he opened his mouth to answer the first question, our racing minds were put to rest. The interview became natural and the conversation began to flow. In our frantic planning, the students came up with a list of questions to ask, yet we didn’t even need them. We learnt a lot of valuable lessons from him too. It was never his intention to become an actor, however his passion and love for theatre gave him the inspiration to want to try acting. It was very relatable to hear him describe the feeling of not believing he was good enough to become an actor. This feeling of self-doubt is one we all share at different moments of life. It was completely motivating to hear how he did not give up on his dreams, instead he turned them into his reality.
From this experience, the most important thing I learnt it is to make the most of every opportunity life gives. You will always get more from an experience than what you first expect. I started the afternoon, nervous and expecting to not even be allowed five minutes with him. I ended the day beaming with pride and able to say that my afternoon was spent having tea and cake with the wonderful Simon Callow.
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