What is your current job title? What does your job involve?
I am a dancer and actress so my job basically involves lots of travelling and being on a film set, learning steps and lines, and then performing them for the camera.
What's great about your job?
Definitely the excitement about what my next role will be. Each role is always very different and its super fun having the flexibility to choose those roles I know will challenge me most and help me to grow as a performer. However, travelling and having the chance to experience different cultures is a fantastic part of the job too!
What are the bits you don't like or find challenging?
There's really not a single thing I don't enjoy but the most challenging aspect on set is probably the long hours and managing severe tiredness! You definitely learn to sleep on the road or in your trailer, but it somehow makes it all worth it seeing the end result. And sometimes the research into the culture or specific time period can also be hard work, but it's something I really thrive on, I always find the more you know about your role, the more you can really let loose and go for it on set.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I really feel like every job so far has been a highlight. I've certainly learnt that each job leads to the next so it's important to consider every opportunity possible. I would say the biggest highlight of my career so far was the moment I stepped onto the Shivaay set in Mumbai. I started as a body double, I was then given the opportunity to do many of the stunts which was so much fun, and then to top it off I was offered a small role as a friend of the female lead. It really was surreal working with some of the most successful and most professional of the Bollywood film industry. However, even before my time in India I also had some really amazing opportunities. I walked a London Fashion Week catwalk for the Emerging Trends show in 2014 for not one but two different designers! I've also been blessed with having the opportunity to work for some incredible causes such as the Ministry of Defence's Anti-Bullying campaign for the British Army, it was an incredibly eye opening day and I was so thrilled to be involved in helping to raise awareness. I suppose when I look back I know I should be pleased but I'm always working towards the next project, it's the worst trait of mine, I just cannot sit still.
How did you get into an arts job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
I would love to answer this with 'I always knew it was what I wanted to do', but unfortunately I cannot. For me, getting into this industry was a total rollercoaster. I began dancing when I was about 14, realised I loved it and then chased the idea of training at a dance college in London with all my heart, mind and strength… even when my mum was telling me it's not where you train, but the job at the end of it. I really never believed I was good enough; it was a constant mental battle for me. Some get into dance college and thrive. But for me I always felt as though I was stumbling through and only just making the cut. I actually missed most deadlines for applying to train in London because I'd got it into my head that I'd never get in anyway and maybe I would have more chance at going to a university and going about it more academically. However, I was super, super, crazy lucky to be offered a late audition at London Studio Centre on my 18th birthday. It's a day I'll never forget. I didn't get in anywhere else and had no hope whatsoever. I went with the idea that I would just enjoy the day and try to learn as much as possible from the teachers while I had the chance. Little did I know that was the day my whole future changed! But as far as jobs go, I've really done it all, I worked in an organic food shop, I worked as a receptionist, in a fish and chip shop, as a waitress, barmaid, VIP Hostess. You name it, I've probably done it. As you probably know, dance college and living in London costs quite a lot so I was always finding ways to make it work. After graduating it was just a case of staying in London and really making the most of every casting, audition, networking event, websites and whatever I could find. The more dancing and acting jobs I got, the more came about. It's all about that first move to get the ball rolling, and then just cherishing every role, working super hard and putting your all into it, no matter how small it all starts off.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
So far the biggest challenge in my career has been adapting to different cultures, languages and ways of life. It's like a new country means a new way of acting. It's like starting all over again, almost like being a child and having to learn their ways of life and body language, building those blocks and becoming sure of what you're doing as a performer all over again. It all takes time and I've always been someone who runs through life at 100 miles per hour so it's hard sometimes to take the time to readjust. It sounds strange and maybe not everyone struggles with this but for me getting a job abroad is the highest of the high, then finishing a job is the lowest of the low. And everything in-between takes real hard work and perseverance. There's something so magical about being madly in love with your career, but it takes more work than you can ever imagine, yet somehow you're happy to do it no matter what the outcome. Every role has challenges, but the real challenge is how you deal with it once that role wraps on set and you're left auditioning for the next.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
My advice for everyone thinking about their future is to do what you love, we're not lying when we say you'll never have to actually do a day's work if you have a job you adore. And then my biggest advice ever for those thinking about a career as a dancer or actor is don't listen to that little voice telling you you're not quite good enough. Being afraid of failure is the biggest killer of dreams for sure. Have the guts, if you don't, you'll never know how far you could have got. If I didn't have the guts to get on that train and attempt that LSC audition, I'd never have been in London at the time I was, and I'd have never had some of the incredible opportunities. Give it YOUR best shot, then at least you can rest assured you're where fate always wanted you to be.
Of all places, guess where Pippa and I were acquainted with? A film set of course... but that's a story for another time!
Want to know more about dancing? Check out the info on Creative Choices, the arts careers website, here
Visit the official 'Shivaay' to see the perky Pippa doing her thing in the trailer! Or, follow her on Twitter @Pippa_Hughes