Eighteen year old singer, actor and lover of all things musical theatre, Kelly Edmead arrives to our zoom interview excited to share her journey so far. On the wall behind her there is a brightly coloured Hamilton programme. Which she later reveals is her favourite musical admitting, “I could probably do a whole solo act of Hamilton.” Despite Kelly’s calm, self-assured demeanour, she confesses “I never used to be like that,” praising acting as “something which does help you with your confidence.” Kelly credits her sister who helped her discover a passion for performing when she was “about the age of five.” Kelly has “been surrounded by scripts ever since.”
From taking part in a workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe to performing in Carmen the musical, Kelly has already built up great experience in the performing arts. We discuss the ins and outs of the acting industry, how she prepares for auditions and dealing with rejection.
How do you prepare for a role?
When I know I have a specific character, if it is one that has already been created I would research about them to know their characteristics and how they should move. I tend to put myself into the character’s shoes using Stanislavski’s technique. It is called the ‘magic if’ where if I was in that situation what would I do as myself. I put myself in front of a mirror, to know if I am doing the right facial expressions and movements when I am being the character and acting.
What is your biggest career goal?
There’s a side of me that wants to be an actress, like West End. But then I have also thought about being a youth creative facilitator. I just love being able to direct the kids and see them change from the start of the project to the end of it and how much passion they have. It gives them an ability that they don’t really get to have in school. I like being really inspiring.
What challenges have you faced whilst pursuing your passion?
Mostly to do with auditions and timing. So I’m a freelancer right now, I don’t have an agent. It’s just finding the auditions that are right for me and how I feel I would fit into the character. During Covid it was quite hard because most of it was self-tapes and you didn’t get to meet the people face to face. It was a complete different schedule and way of having an audition.
What has your favourite performance been so far?
Carmen, I was in a youth Carmen with the English National Opera. That was my very first time acting on a big stage in front of so many people. It is the sort of thing where when you’re off stage there is a lot of stage fright but as soon as you step on the stage your eyes are open and you feel completely at home.
“Don’t let the rejection define who you are”
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I mean right now I am rehearsing for a musical and I feel like that is one of my biggest achievements. It is something new and I guess just knowing that there is a possibility that I can be involved, even if I don’t get a main character. Yesterday I had a recall for a main character and even though I might not get the part because it is really competitive, I know that I might still be a part of the musical.
Have you ever struggled with self-belief?
Yeah I have struggled with it quite a lot. If I don’t get a part, I tend to get stressed a lot really. Dealing with rejection used to be quite hard for me so that was one of the biggest challenges. Knowing that you’re not always going to get a part, it does hurt. Acting is something where it does help you with your confidence. I never used to be how I am until I got into training.
What advice would you give to young actors struggling with self-confidence?
It is knowing that rejection is a possibility, but there is still a point in trying. Maybe that part is not for you, but someone else will think you’re better for a different role. Don’t give up on it. Even if you’re rejected on one thing doesn’t mean you will be on another. If you’re not confident, go along with friends that you know like acting and performing and are creative. That enables you to get confidence. The more you’re involved the better you feel about yourself, because you’re putting yourself out there.
Tell me more about your upcoming performance?
It is a gig for Rich Mix, I am in a team called New Creatives. The module that I joined is a meditation sort of one where in the mornings you work with creative people of different styles. They help you to get rid of your nerves before you go on stage. We have a creative talk with other people as well where they speak to us about planning ideas. I am doing a monologue from the play The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. I’m also doing two songs, a pop song and a musical theatre song, ‘Yours’ by Ella Henderson and ‘That Would be Enough’ from Hamilton and I’m doing a short scene about colourism with two other girls.
Are you interested in working in other areas of the performing arts?
I have thought about directing, since doing something similar in college. It was improvisation where I created a scene and directed people in the way I wanted. I did really like it since I knew my ideas would be involved and it allowed me to express my thoughts about the scene. This could be a weakness of mine, when it comes to ideas I tend to go a bit shy. I don’t know what it is but I tend to shut off. When I got that chance to direct it got rid of that shyness. I do write monologues, for example the scene tomorrow is improvised which I have written on my own.
How has True Cadence supported your acting?
A lot, with True Cadence that was the first time I had ever done some kind of screen acting, this helped me get myself out there more and overcome my shyness. I took part in the True Cadence Music and Mindfulness workshop which made me realise I do want to write my own music. They helped me understand the basics of writing music, whether with an instrument or just your voice. It made me realise how creativity can help you with your own mental health.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t let the rejection define who you are. Also, within personal experience make sure you have the time for auditions and performing. I’ve gone for so many things and sometimes it has made me more stressed. Make sure you do give yourself a break.