For an actor, life after drama school can be many things – turbulent, emotional and occasionally glorious are a few words that come to my mind. I recently got the chance to catch up with my good friend and actor Andrei Costin and he described life after drama school as ‘challenging’.
Andrei was born and raised in ‘newly democratic and peaceful Romania’ and moved to the UK six years ago to train at the Birmingham School of Acting. Since graduating, he has completed the UK Tour of ‘The Kite Runner’, playing the role of Hassan, and had his West End debut when it transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre where it currently resides. He also recently completed filming for BBC’s Doctors and is now working on a Romanian-British feature film called ‘Memento Amare’.
Looking at his list of credits, there’s no doubt he’s had an impressive start to his career. So I was very interested to find out exactly what he meant by ‘challenging’ and ask him what advice he’d give to emerging actors.
What was it like after graduating from the Birmingham School of Acting?
It was quiet for quite a while, I had to understand how this whole thing works and the first step was to move to London. I made the mistake of getting a job that kept me in the house for most of the day and that stalled me physically and mentally. But I did start auditioning for various things through the agent I got from our showcase and kept looking for jobs on all the industry websites. Going to some workshops with casting directors helped me to gain knowledge and get my face seen. It took me a while to accommodate, but I do think that the possibilities are endless when you’re down here.
Did you ever question your decision to be an actor?
There are the odd times when I go all philosophical and question my purpose in life but the gut instinct of performing, expressing myself, learning and needing to create as part of a team has never gone away. It really is a strange thing to do and pretty selfish and narcissistic if you strip it all down but oh boy is it fun and it keeps you young and curious!
How important is it to keep up your skills whilst out-of-work?
If practising your skills, improving or learning new ones is something you think will make you feel better, do it. And it will. Speaking for myself, it’s most important to keep confidence up. Without confidence, you won’t do your best in an audition. So keep it up, one day at a time. Read something out loud every day, read plays, learn monologues and scenes, improvise with friends, write, practise the crap out of that favourite song, go and watch plays and films for inspiration and education, pick up an instrument. There is time for everything.
Is life as an actor how you imagined it would be before going to drama school?
No. Every day brings on a new challenge and adventure, whether you’re working or not. It’s a full on life and not the romanticised version that a college kid has in his mind. Although, at its best it really is the dream come true, when you get to do what you love with people that you love and admire.
Do you think it’s important to go to drama school?
I think it is important to have training of some sort, not necessarily because of the technical skills you acquire but more importantly to prepare you for life as an actor outside of performing; managing the lifestyle, how to work in a team/company/ensemble and for the discipline it can teach you. I guess those are also skills. It’s like learning the rules of a game in order to make it easier to play with others. Of course, you can be a fantastic team player and a gifted actor without going to drama school and just learn everything else from experience.
What advice would you give to an aspiring actor/actress?
Go for it. If you feel the urge to do it, something will happen for you and you won’t regret doing it. Read up on acting, on theatre, watch interviews with actors, watch shows, films, live performance, delve yourself into that world. If you’re aspiring, you’re probably already doing some of that… But also set yourself small and achievable goals. When it gets hard, keep at it.
What’s next for you?
Over April, I’ll be going up to Chester to play a Syrian refugee in a new piece of writing called ‘The Lost Boy’ and some stuff I’ve filmed recently will be coming out soon. I just want to keep working, learning and finding variety in my work.