Hey peeps, here is a brand new video from a performance a few weeks back at Prohibition Cabaret Bar for the press night of Q Festival.
Hey peeps, here is a brand new video from a performance a few weeks back at Prohibition Cabaret Bar for the press night of Q Festival.
Recently I have had a bit of a rocky thought process, things business-wise have been going well and have really started to pick up, however, I think as soon as that happens and I can no longer find fault within myself, I start to find fault with the world, and jeez, we have a lot to find fault with in the world we are currently living in. But lot’s to celebrate too.
This week I have been thinking a lot about the absolute lack of diversity in performing. If you aren’t a certain size, identify as a certain skin colour/race, are not conventionally pretty, or do not have any of the other perfect attributes you apparently need to play a leading human on stage or screen, then life is made very difficult.
I constantly receive casting calls which will not accept applicants (for very well-known period crime dramas in particular) over a womens uk size 12, because of ‘period costume’. Well I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that! I should know, I buy a lot of what they call ‘Period costume’ and there is stuff out there! You can also buy amazingly authentic reproduction stuff too. I still however receive these emails every week or so, which has in part, lead to this blog post, turned rant.
And this casting call in particular is only for extras work and small parts. There are tonnes of casting calls which define both men and women, just by what they look like before they even get to an audition! Is this me? Or is this completely wrong? Any other industry would be very hugely reprimanded for such goings on. I do understand that certain characters need certain attributes, and directors/writers have certain visions of what their characters should embody physically. However I am getting sick of seeing the fat girl as the best friend and many other cliché’s, which I’m sure you can think of!
I want to see the fat girl get the boy/girl and not even have her weight mentioned (not the girl getting the boy despite her being fat). I want to see a line of dancers, with all different skin tones, body shapes and heights. I want to see a more diverse world on my screen and in the theatre in general.
The key to this is not making the person in a wheel chair the main character because they are in a wheel chair, but putting them in there because they have a talent and deserve to play the lead. I am using the ‘person in a wheel chair’ and ‘the fat girl’ as examples but there are so many other people who are not represented enough on the screen and stage, because of their disability, skin colour, race, hair colour, dress size, height, sexual orientation, lack of ‘conventional prettiness’, accent, gender and probably so much more.
Now some people may argue, that there are simply not as many (let’s use again, women over a size uk 14 as an example), going to auditions, therefore they are less likely to be cast. I do know first hand that before you can get to audition stage, even when sending a self-taped audition, a casting director will look at your headshot and judge you on your look, size, eye-colour, hair colour etc, which you have to include on every casting site and on your CV. Often in a casting call, all you have to do is read it to find out that if you are not blond-haired, or a UK size 8-12 and white, as a women, you are not ‘in demand’. I do believe that men get away with more as there are generally more main roles for men within theatre and TV which is simply a fact. However I am sure there are a lot of men who face the same judgement.
I could go on forever and have so much to say on this subject, but I feel if I carry on any further I may never stop. So here is some food for thought to casting directors, agencies, choreographers, directors and anyone who has a hand in putting performers on stage or screen. We live in such a dynamic and diverse world, you may think your audience will expect your leading lady or gent, to look a certain way. You may imagine them in this way, and feel they ‘need’ to have a certain look in order for them to take on a certain character or persona. However that is not the case, this is probably in fact leading a lot of your audience to feel mis-represented or completely un-represented, alienating them from your work. I do not look to irradiate the ‘conventional’, I merely hope to equalize and diversify casts and judge performers on their talent rather on the way they look.
Performance, be it on stage or screen is a social art, we need to make sure as creators that we are socializing with society as a whole, with an inclusive platform for our performers. This and only this will ensure that we can engage to our full potential with our audience and will strengthen and grow our art as never before.
Please feel free to leave your comments, this is such a huge subject to me and I believe really has a huge effect on a lot of things.
I have been performing my whole life and performed many different genres of dance on a lot of formal stages since I was 4 years old, however because of my weight and probably, just being a big ol’ scaredy-cat, I had never tried my hand at dancing in a cabaret format. Something about being alone on a small stage and the audience being within sniffing distance made me very nervous! But all my life I have idolised cabaret performers and the sort of art they make, cheeky, quirky, funny; Cabaret can be anything you want it to be, and that’s why lot’s of people love it!
So when I was asked if I would to do a commissioned choreography and performance at a bar called Can Can, how could I resist?
So here it is, my debut at Can Can bar enjoy!!
P.s Please subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already!
Since my last post and after filming ‘Made of Glass’, I was so nervous about the consequences of doing it and what people might think, seeing the finished footage was making me very anxious to say the least. But as soon as I seen it all I felt was pride, that no matter how imperfect I may have looked, that was me and I was brave enough to do that! So, I can not show you the actual film yet as it is entered into some film festivals, however if you are desperate to catch a bit of flesh take a look at this video below which has a glimpse, it’s my show reel!
Since that point I have really felt better about myself and my body than I have in years, even though I am probably at my most heavy! I have been strength training but not focussing on my weight too much, although that is still something I need to address, I have endeavoured to be the person that I want to be without desperately NEEDING to loose that extra couple of stone or be a size 10 (UK). My new way of thinking is that photographers, casting directors, choreographers/directors can simply take me as I am or not at all! This has given me a kind of freedom just to be myself instead of trying to be the person I always thought I should be in order to be successful.
So life at the moment is pretty sweet, I’m in a really progressive state of mind after receiving some great support from loads of lovely people generally involved in my life but also some un-expected people which was a great surprise.
Unfortunately I have had a bit trouble getting together another research group to talk with to help me with my new choreography project. So if you are reading this and really fancy talking about your body confidence and how other peoples opinions and the media effect that, please feel free to comment below and tell your story or let me know your interested.
I did it!!!! ( I got completely naked for the camera! Sorry to keep you all in suspense but we were filming until 2am on Wednesday evening so I had to catch up with sleep and what not yesterday. (If you don’t know what I’m babbling on about catch up by reading Fat girl vs Film-my adventure into public nudity for the sake of body positivity (part 1))
Here is a little Vlog from on set.
But here I am, I took all of my clothes off and I stood in front of a group of people who filmed me naked. I do feel liberated but not to the point I thought I would, however I do feel more inspired and understanding of my body and mind and how they connect now. I think in me there is such a connection between body and mind that sometimes the length at which I over think things holds me back. Being instinctual and trying to quieten my mind in order to let my subconscious shine through is something I need to try and do more within my work and my general life.
As a performer I have learned that I need to listen to my instincts more and turn off my brain and let the subconscious do the work as when this happens I do work better and it often leads to some really great performances and creation.
I have a lot to take from this experience, I can’t say I loved doing it and I can’t say I hated doing it, I certainly felt compelled to do it and am glad I did. I have always enjoyed pushing my limits and in the past few years I have done this a lot which has brought me to the current amazing situation I am in now in, making and being a part of living, moving art which is my passion. This passion has lead me all over in years gone by and now it leads me back to myself and a little phrase ‘do what you know’ comes to mind. What do I know better than my own body and mind right? nobody else knows them better than me. I want to couple that need for self exploration with the problems we have within our society regarding our outward form and the effect this can have on our minds, and I know that this experience has really helped me get an incite into how being told your body has to be a certain way to be displayed has a huge impact even when you think it hasn’t.
My next step now is to have another good bloody natter! So I am going to try and organise another meet up via my Facebook page somewhere local to Newcastle upon tyne, so if your in the area and interested in chatting about your relationship with your body and many other things please do keep your eyes peeled for the event. However if you are from further afield please feel free to comment on the this post or on Facebook and share your stories and incites.
Hi guys and dolls,
So as per my last post ‘Girl meets cake’ I have very much sunk myself into this project and only gone and got myself a job getting naked in a short film! The film takes a look into body positivity and is called ‘Made of Glass’, brought about by a lovely group of people who go under the name of ‘Abnormal Exit’ its part of a triology of short films looking at some issues faced by women.
So my body was picked from thousands of candidates or maybe that’s just what my lovely director Abbey Scargill told me.😉
My first day on location was yesterday and we had an amazing day frolicking in the forest (fully clothed) I met the whole crew and had some giggles trying to win everyone over before I showed them my worst enemy (my naked form)! I felt really good yesterday focussing on my performance and the technicalities of filming, however as the day went on I was increasingly aware these people I barely know and am not planning on sleeping with will be seeing me in all my glory the next day and focusing on that for the majority of an evening/afternoon which made me increasingly nervous and anxious. I felt and still can’t help but think that I will be dissapointing, or too entertaining (as in laughed at rather than laughed with), there is also an element of potential disgust going round in my brain, I am basically thinking of every bad reaction scenario that the people who see me may have, this is also bizarrely quite comforting as it is me kind of preparing for the worst.
This morning I have made a little video after making every inch of my being ready for the trauma it was about to go through.
So here it is………..
I am currently in waiting to be called to set so until my next post I will simply say………..to be continued……….
I have always been a lover of cake and all things sweet, it makes me feel better when I’m sad it makes a great day even better! I have, all my life rewarded myself with a sweet treat when I have been extra amazing and drowned my sorrows in a double chocolate chip muffin when I have had the worst day. It’s safe to say my relationship with food is one of an unhealthy love bordering on obsession with a definite emotional attachment and the relationship with my body in return is that of a love and hate tug of war at times, with some breaks of cease fire and calmness, oh but then a remark is made a dress doesn’t fit a bad picture is posted to Facebook and the whole rigmarole starts again. Being a professional dancer this has never worked in my favour, the fight to do what I wanted to do for a living has always been very real.
I have been told I am too fat to be a performer in so many ways by so many people it’s unbelievable. Luckily I am the most optimistic fat dancer you could meet and that is what has seen me through to this point and hopefully beyond. I have been denied many opportunities because of my weight and even more so because of my self consciousness that my body is not worthy of those opportunities.
Since I decided to make a leap of faith with my career leaving my safety job in a shop and going full time as a performer and creative, coupled with my ongoing ageing which I am still getting used to, I have decided to use this huge part of my life as an opportunity for discovery and hopefully some art. I want to study the relationships people have with their bodies particularly women.
I want to know why I am like this, when did it start? why did it start? why can’t I dance as a fat girl? Would people want to see a size 16 girl dance? Why should I wear spanx? Why are some girls more than half my size and twice my beauty even less confident in their own skin? Why do people want the perfect skin colour by tanning or bleaching or whatever other methods there may be? Why shouldn’t I have hairy legs or armpits or god forbid a hairy Mary? Why do I need long hair on my head but not on my big toe? What is a beach body? Can I model clothes even if I have a spare tyre (or two)? Why are there such strict rules on what a woman can do with her body? Why do women judge other women so harshly? Why do people think it is their business to tell other people they do not look ‘right’? Why do we have columns in magazines and TV programmes specifically to tell people how bad they look and that they need to change? Why are female prime ministers legs spoken about on the front pages of tabloid newspapers rather than their politics?
I want to know it all and more. So I am embarking on this year of self discovery as well as hopefully learning a lot about my fellow humans and how we are obsessed with our outer form and the relationship with our inner being and how we can bring balance and learn to love ourselves for who we are and not what we want to be, who we want to be like or what other people think we should be like. Simply for the form both inside and outside that we take at this very moment in time.
So I’m going to finish off by saying I want to talk, If you have issues I want to talk if you don’t have any issues at all I want to talk. I want to hear from people who have answers to any of these questions or questions to pose of their own! It’s all in aid of what is to be hopefully an art piece based around movement and dance to begin with but who knows where it will go!
You can comment below with anything you feel you want to share or alternitavely, you can send me an email at email@example.com or send me a message via my facebook page.
Looking forward to talking! Hildy x
So good to get back to this blog!
Let’s catch up!
As of November 2016 I have been a fully self employed performer/ all round creative person which has so far been the most scary and satisfying experience.
I previously worked a 24hr a week job alongside all of my commitments as a performer, teacher and choreographer but it was making me desperately miserable and I needed to get out.
I spoke to my boyfriend on many occasions about the possibility of going back to university or other opportunities which he was happy to support me with and so I decided to say ‘Fudge it! I am going to do it’ (or words to that effect) I handed my notice in and began my life as a free woman. Which after dreaming about it since I started working at the age of 16 seems like forever.
(photo credit to Ben Martin)
In the past 5 months I have done everything from clowning to starring in a horror film (which may be the same thing for some) I feel like I have come so far learning about myself aas I go along.
I am now officially a cabaret performer with one act under my belt and another in production.
(photo credit to Martin.J. Baty)
I can’t wait to see what comes next, a part of what comes next will be this blog. I want to use this as a platform to connect with other performers and give an incite to those who are interested in the life, pleasures and interests of a girl like me trying to make it in the performance industry, as a not so springing chicken (I’m now 28), curvy size 16. I know it’s going to be tough but I can’t help but be positive because I know how much I want it.
Thanks for joining me for this journey!
More coming soon…….