Interviewee: Angela Peters
Job Title: Actor + Founder of UK Actors Tweetup
Credits Include: Feature films including Tangled
Up In Blue (directed by Haider Rashid, festival awards), The Pharmacist
(directed by Patrick von Boetticher). Short films. Theatre. TV
credits include being face of Queensland's Best Living for Channel
Interview Date: September 2013
Q. Hi Angela,
give us a little background on yourself before you became an actor
(degree, relevant work experience, interests, etc)
A. I was working in the corporate industry in
Australia, while studying Psychology at university. And I guess
I loved rock climbing, sport and running. I was always passionate
about acting, from age 21, but I was so happy in the corporate
land I didn’t focus too much on how to create a future for
myself as a full time actor.
Q. And how
did you first get into acting?
A. Very accidentally. I was writing lyrics and
wanted to improve my singing voice. Randomly, a friend suggested
I check out the full time acting course he was doing. To this
day I will never know why I did, as I had never considered acting
as being a career I might want to pursue.
Q. You did
a lot of drama school and training across the globe, where did
you study and what courses did you do?
A. Ha ha yes I did. They do say antipodeans love
their training. After the three-year advance diploma in method
acting, I went over to Paris and did a month intensive at Ecole
Philippe Gaulier. It was incredible! I heard Gaulier is one of
the last people alive to have been taught by Lecoq himself and
I found him a delight to learn from. And then upon finishing the
course I went back in Oz and had private lessons with a NIDA teacher
for the next few years to hone my skills.
Q. Is drama
school a help or a hindrance? Or a bit of both? For example is
there a danger it will teach out an actor’s rawness?
A. Personally I think any drama school or training
is what you make of it but I do believe that some type of training
is helpful, and almost essential. There are skills and disciplines
you learn that help you when you first get out there and audition,
first step onto the stage or get in front of a camera for the
first time. You make it harder for yourself if you haven’t
had some type of formal training. And yet, having said that, I’ve
seen some stellar actors who haven’t done any [training].
Maybe I just needed extra help.
originally from Australia, why did you choose to move to the UK
and not LA or stay in Australia?
A. I always wanted to live abroad and London
appealed because it has a ‘big town’ feel but with
a culture that feels more closely aligned to Australia. And LA,
well to be honest, that’s always where you want to end up
as an actor, but I wasn’t ready, and I didn’t have
the right visas or paperwork to allow me to even consider going
Q. Is the
industry any different between Australia and the UK?
A. How long is a piece of string? I guess it
feels like there’s more work here but you’re also
competing with thousands more actors (and that same can be said
of LA). Oh and if I were still in Australia I would hardly ever
need an English accent.
been both a TV actor and TV presenter, is there much cross over
between the two roles or are they two completely different skills?
A. For me, I believe acting and presenting are
totally different. Acting requires you to immerse yourself in
a character, find their voice, walk and way of being. But presenting
is just a bigger version of you that is typically all shiny and
bright. You make sure you’re constantly switched on and
don’t lose your upbeat personality so the audience is always
engaged. But as an actor, it’s about being whatever is truthful
to that role, and sometimes that means being dark and mysterious,
and not always being likable.
What’s your top tip for learning lines?
A. Years ago a wonderful teacher of mine suggested
I tape my scene partners lines onto a smart phone or device, and
to practise my lines over and over neutrally. By not making a
conscious choice about how to inflect each line, or lock in a
certain rhythm and way of saying it, then you’re more able
to change your delivery when responding to your scene partner
on the actual day. My iphone is still my best friend when I’m
doing line learning.
actors ever accept unpaid or below equity minimum roles?
A. This is a tough one and I often see this topic
bantered about on acting bulletins and noticeboards. I found my
way and built my showreel when I started out by accepting unpaid
/ below equity work. I found that by working on low budget or
unpaid work at the beginning, I could really hone my skills and
learn all the things you need to know before your first big job.
So my personal thought is that unpaid work can really benefit
an actor starting out. But each to their own. If you only want
to do paid work, then that is also your choice. But I imagine
every young director also started out making indie shorts and
you never know who might be the next Woody Allen or James Cameron.
It’s worth paying your dues.
do you find most of your auditions and roles?
A. It’s a mix really. Nowadays I get more
work via my agent than elsewhere, but also through referrals and
through people I’ve worked with before. I guess that is
similar in any industry. The longer you’re in it, the more
people know about you.
Q. What is
the best preparation an actor can do for an audition?
A. Learn the lines and allow plenty of time to
get there. The two things that will leave you less confident that
anything else is being late to an audition, which means you’re
already apologising before you’ve even started, and not
knowing your lines. Everything is so much easier when you can
take direction, look your scene partner in the eye and respond
earnestly, rather than the director seeing the top of your head
the whole time because you are reading off the script.
Q. How important
is it to have an agent? Do you really even need one?
A. Agents help you to get access to work and
roles that you are very unlikely to get seen for if you are hustling
alone. I think in the long run you’re always better with
an agent than without, but only if they’re a good agent.
Q. If actors
have representation should they accept roles outside of that relationship?
A. That’s up to the actor to negotiate
and discuss with the agent. Some agents will let you and others
will frown up it. You want to have an open relationship and not
hide anything from them so it’s best to discuss that at
the onset of a partnership. Remember, as an actor you are also
interviewing the agent (and vice versa) so this is something you
should ask about to ensure they’re the right fit for you.
movie role do you wish you had played?
A. Naomi Watts in 21 Grams!
Q. How do
you choose who to work for? Script, money, people, a mixture of
A. A combination of all of those things. I won’t
accept work I don’t believe in and have turned down paid
roles before because I honestly didn’t understand the story.
But I particularly love it when the script is excellent, the people
I am going to be working with are immense and I’m getting
paid. I guess that’s my acting trifecta?
Q. Have you
ever turned down any roles and why?
A. Yes, I have turned quite a few down over the
years. Usually it’s because I didn’t understand the
story and figure “if I don’t get it, how will someone
else understand it”.
directors would you most like to work with?
A. I know I would definitely include Woody Allen
in the list as he is one of the masters of cinema. He just keeps
making what he wants to make and doesn't subscribe to a certain
type of "Hollywood" or franchise. Other directors I'd
love to work with include Kathryn Bigelow (wow!), Matthew Vaughn
because he made two of my favourite romance and action movies
(Stardust and Kick-Ass), Drake Doremus because he really is the
master of slow sexy cinema, and Cate Shortland because she would
be my dream director from Australia to work with one day (oh and
Baz of course). Wow. I think I actually have an endless list,
because these are just my favourites at the moment, but it's terrific
to see so much talent out there at the moment.
A. Hollywood to get known and then Broadway to
do what I love…tread the boards.
Q. What is
the most challenging aspect of being an actor?
A. The uncertainty. Just as quickly as you are
booking work and are getting paid, the role finishes (unless you’re
a long standing series regular to television) and you’re
back looking for your next job. I think not knowing when you’ll
be working again is one of the hardest things.
Q. What is
the most frustrating aspect of being an actor?
A. Trying to get seen for a role that you know
you’d be perfect for. When a casting director is going through
thousands of applications and they haven’t met you before
I can be hard for them to know you are perfect for that particular
role! I just want to ring them up and yell ‘you need to
see me for this role’ but it’s just not the best way
to get business done.
is a perception of acting that it is very glamorous, is it?
A. Ha! Absolutely not. The only glamorous parts
are the red carpets and the occasional fabulous party. But even
then you are still ‘working’ really. Most of the time
you are sitting about on set reading a novel while they get the
lighting just right.
Q. How important
are networking and contacts in the industry?
A. I think the age-old adage ‘it’s
who you know’ is truer in this industry than in any other.
You can work successfully as a doctor your whole life and only
know a few people, but in this industry, the more people you know,
the better your chances are of at least getting seen for a role.
And on top of that if you meet people to make a genuine and honest
connections (rather than schmoozing for all the wrong reasons)
then those contacts can last a lifetime and you can help one another
in all manner of ways in this industry.
often say the film industry is a small world, is this really true?
A. Absolutely! I can’t believe how many
people know one another. It’s pretty hard in London to talk
about actors or directors without someone knowing one of the people
you are chatting about. And it’s a great thing. The smaller
the world the easier it is for me to get to Eran Creevy or Ben
Q. If you
are a great actor will you always make it?
A. I can honestly say I have no idea. A great
friend of mine who is very successful in this industry (not as
an actor) once said to me, “just know it’s all luck”.
And now, with more experience, I tend to agree. Some wonderfully
talented actors never get the recognition they should, and some
dreadful ones appear again and again in the cinema. But I’m
pretty sure that happens in all industries.
Q. How do
you know when you’ve made it?
A. You have to be honest with yourself about
what you want to go for but also set yourself small goals along
the way. The one thing I would hate to be is someone who spends
so much of my time “trying to make it” that I don’t
enjoy the journey. You want to make sure you take the time to
enjoy all the little wins, all the little jobs, all the little
moments on the way. Acting is so fun. Just by being an actor aren’t
we already making it?
Q. What defines
success in this industry? Winning an Oscar? Making a living as
A. My personal take on this would be making a
living as an actor, but again it’s different for everyone.
I don’t begrudge anyone. Some actors just enjoy participating
in amateur theatre gigs every few months and that’s still
technically acting by definition. Me, I want the Oscar.
Q. Is it
possible for the majority of actors to make a living from acting
alone or do they usually need other forms of income?
A. Many of my friends in the business here, in
LA and Australia, have other forms of income to help keep them
afloat. Perhaps if the higher end jobs paid less (i.e. not millions
per role) then we could more evenly disperse the payments and
get more actors making a living out of acting. But I also don’t
begrudge those earning the millions. Well done to them for getting
the big jobs.
today’s world should females be referred to as ‘actors’
or ‘actresses’? Or does it not matter?
A. I really don’t think there’s a
hard and fast rule. It’s funny though as my business card
says actor and that’s usually the first thing someone asks
me. “Why actor?”.
Q. The internet
has changed the industry over the past 15 years or so, how important
is it for actors to self-publicise themselves and have a social
media presence or is all publicity best left to your agent?
A. Very important. You want to be searchable
just in case a director or casting director or producer is trying
of find examples of your previous work. And also, it goes without
saying, your fans want somewhere to find you one day when you’re
a big enough star.
Q. As someone
who is very hot on social media, which sites or apps are best
for actors to be on?
A. I recommend Twitter for anyone who wants to
get the low down on indie films, directors, celebrities and casting
directors. Facebook is great if you are already really established
and have a fan page that is being managed for you. But I am less
inclined to look at Facebook pages unless there is actually content
I want to know about. And from a work perspective IMDB is also
wonderful – It’s always exciting when you get your
first credit on there.
Q. To promote
yourself as an actor you have your own website (www.angelapeters.tv)
with your headshots, still, showreel and news updates - should
every actor have their own website? Does it bring you much work
directly or is it just a tool for promoting yourself and raising
A. That’s a great question and one actually
talked about recently in my B.A.B.E. blog as I did a series for
actors on branding. I asked a few casting directors whether they
ever look at websites and they said very rarely (they don’t
have enough time). But I have had directors view my site before
and tell me which ‘looks they’ve liked’. When
that first happened it made me realise that as a work tool, having
your own website is very useful. And then of course, it gives
people a place to find out more about you if they’re tracking
Q. You write
an excellent and regular blog called B.A.B.E. Blog (www.actingbabe.com),
what does B.A.B.E. stand for and why did you decide to start blogging?
A. Oh thank you, that’s really sweet. B.A.B.E.
stands for ‘Begin Acting. Believe Everything’. The
aim is for it to inspire new actors to find their positive side
to acting, rather than believing all the negative thoughts in
their head that make them think they can’t do it. I find
that most blogs focus on an actor themselves who writes the blog,
so what I like to do is flip that over with B.A.B.E.. Instead
of being about me, this blog is about a general message or lesson
or reminder for that week that I might have come across that relates
to acting. I try not to be too self-deprecating, but I definitely
don’t ever want people to think it is all about me. I’ve
got enough time for that on set? (kidding).
Q. And does
blogging bring you many new contacts, opportunities and acting
A. Not really but I didn’t really start
it for that. For me it was all about sharing. It is a lovely feeling
to give to others and to share experiences for the benefit of
many. I get such a kick when someone tells me they enjoyed a blog,
or that a particular topic I spoke about helped them with their
own personal journey.
Through the B.A.B.E. Blog website you also offer a mentoring service
– how did this come about?
A. Well long before I started acting, I wanted
to be a psychologist and actually did a BA in it. And I used to
mentor younger staff in corporate land. So years later when I
realised that I actually do a lot of informal coaching and mentoring,
I thought how wonderful if I could actually do this as a side
to my full time acting. I get to help others create and shape
their own personal acting journey. And it’s pretty fun to
be on the mentoring side because I’m always learning from
my clients too.
Q. You founded
UK Actors Tweetup in 2010 - what is it, who is it for and why
did you set it up?
A. To me, that old dirty word networking is one
of the key parts of this industry. I was getting a bunch of industry
mates together every few months for informal drinks – usually
at my favourite bar in London, Gordon’s – so once
I met the guys running the LA Actors Tweetup, I had a chat with
them and founded the UK contingent. And now I co-run it with a
wonderful producer named Andrea Farrena. It just makes sense to
have a place where actors, writers, directors, producers and other
industry folk can meet informally and chat on a regular basis
in a positive way. The most exciting thing has been hearing about
collaborations that have taken place as a result of the Tweetups,
including paid opportunities. Actually I even made a short film
years ago with a few ladies as a result of meeting them at one
of our Tweetups.
the main piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to
become an actor?
A. Be absolutely certain it’s what you
want to do because if there is any other profession you enjoy
more, it’s probably worth jumping ship immediately. Acting
is for someone who is in it the long haul. But know that it is
probably the most fun you can have at work while getting paid,
with the exception of being a tour guide. I imagine that would
be a brilliant job too.
Thank you Angela, we look
forward to seeing more of you on the big screen, good luck with
UK Actors Tweetup, see you soon!
Angela's Contact Details:
UK Actors Tweetup Contact Details: