Daniel Ainsleigh, actor and acting coach
Daniel Ainsleigh is an actor and acting coach. An interest in amateur dramatics led him to apply to drama school.
I grew up in Hexham in Northumberland.
When I was 20, I moved down to London to attend the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art (now part of the Central School of Speech and Drama).
I now live in Surrey, just outside London. I’m back in London once or twice a week for auditions.
What job do you do?
"There are good times, when I’m in work, and harder times when it’s quiet."
As an actor, I do theatre, TV and film jobs – I tend to take whatever's going.
As an acting coach, I help people prepare for drama school auditions.
I also give general acting lessons to those considering entering the profession. I work around London and the south east.
What previous jobs in theatre have you done?
I played one of the 40 thieves in an amateur production of 'Ali Baba' when I was eight. I wasn’t very good!
Before drama school, I worked as a barman, a shoe seller, a fruit picker, a shop assistant and a envelope stuffer. I hated most of these jobs with a passion.
I made the move to theatre when I joined a couple of amateur dramatics groups and found that I really enjoyed it.
I took the plunge and auditioned for all the big drama schools, and I was offered places by a couple of them.
As a professional actor, my first job was a touring play with a two-person cast called 'Talk About The Passion'.
Since then, I’ve done a number of plays. I've never worked in theatre as anything other an actor, though.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a three-year diploma in classical acting.
What do you do at work?
Some days I spend working as an actor – either auditioning, filming, rehearsing or performing.
"Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to have dreamed about acting since you were three."
There are good times, when I’m in work, and harder times when it’s quiet. Rather than call up my agent to whinge, I usually write a couple of letters to producing theatres, casting directors and directors I know.
Other days, I work as a one-to-one acting coach. I sometimes have to cancel my coaching sessions because I get a last minute audition, but that’s the life of an actor. When the auditions come, everything else stops.
What's the best thing about your job?
Never knowing what’s around the corner. Some people would hate that, but I thrive on it.
Meeting so many different people is also great.
And the worst thing about the job?
Getting a mental block on a character. It usually lets me know that something's wrong and I need to go back to basics and start again.
I do this by saying, 'Who is this person, and what are they trying to achieve?'. It’s frustrating, but it always seems to come in the end – sometimes frighteningly close to opening night!
How do I get into theatre?
My advice would be:
- Read plays
Read as many as you can find time for. People will take you more seriously.
- If you’ve not been on the stage before, join an amateur dramatics group
Try out acting, and then ask yourself “do I really, really want to be an actor?”.
- Get your priorities right
Keep asking yourself whether this is what you want. If you're doing it to become a Hollywood star, you’ll probably be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re doing it to work as a professional actor and become expert in the craft of acting, then you’ve got a good chance.
- Get trained
If you’ve decided to go for it, I’d strongly advise you to train at one of the drama schools. I’d also advise you to choose a course that is accredited by Drama UK (formerly the National Council for Drama Training).
- Latecomer? Don't give up
Don’t be fooled into thinking that acting is something you need to have dreamed of since you were three. Some of the best actors I know came to it later.
Daniel is part of our theatre experts panel. Ask Daniel a question about working in theatre.