Ellie Zeegen, artistic director

 3 October 2012

Ellie Zeegen is co-founder and artistic director of the Actors' Temple, a training centre and drama school for performers.

"It's great hearing that top casting directors are suggesting to actors that they come and train with us.


Bury St Edmunds.

What job do you do?

Since we formed the Actors' Temple six years ago, Mark Wakeling and I continue to hone our training model. We want it to be the best it can be for our ever-growing company of actors.

I manage the direction the company goes in artistically by co-producing in-house projects. I am in charge of casting our actors in all outside productions for the industry, and coaching actors to win that all-important audition.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a BA degree in literary studies.

What previous jobs in theatre have you done?

Before working in theatre, I did a wide variety of jobs – including being an archaeologist and archivist. 

I lived near the Bristol Old Vic theatre in my third year at university. I was constantly inspired by Southwest Scriptwriters events there, and this rekindled my passion for acting.

"It's great hearing that top casting directors are suggesting to actors that they come and train with us."

I moved to London for a three year contract performing Shakespeare in the West End. When this fell through, I was determined not to let it get me down.

One thing led to another until I met Mark, and we started the Actors' Temple. We worked together to take it from strength to strength.

Mark and I both kept our other jobs going for a time (he was an army officer and personal trainer) but eventually we gave them up to concentrate wholly on running a drama school. It was a risk, but we took it. We've never looked back since.

What do you do at work?

I speak to Mark and Tanja, our studio manager, to check that all is running smoothly at the studio theatre, which is in Warren Street in central London.

I send casting suggestions to companies needing our actors. I deal with elements of productions that are outstanding – getting films edited or music scores completed, for example. Finally, I prepare for any acting jobs I have myself.

What’s the best thing about your job?

It's great hearing that top casting directors are suggesting to actors that they come and train with us.

I also love walking down into the studio and being utterly inspired by the work the actors are doing.

Finally, it's great to hear from actors who have trained with us.  Some have said that the training we offer has changed their lives.

And the worst thing about the job?

Meeting actors who have trained extensively but then come to the Temple and feel as though they have learned more in one week with us than months spent at drama school. This is really a positive, though, as they eventually found us!

The wonderful thing about setting up your own company and being an independent actor is that you can make your dreams come true.

How do I get into theatre?

Above all else, have faith in yourself. Stay in the moment. Remember the only thing you can be perfect at is being yourself.


Ellie is part of our theatre experts panel. Ask Ellie a question about working in theatre.

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