I have recently been doing some new types of work, with new types of people. My gut has been twisted in knots, because some of the people I’ve been working with have been unfamiliar to me. They have seemed perhaps intense, odd, alternative, out-of-the-ordinary, difficult to categorise. Maybe brilliant. Maybe crackers. Maybe both.

In broadcast journalism, most colleagues are ‘people-people’: chatty, socially adept, intellectually bright, organised, efficient – and both good listeners and good talkers.

Specs! Photo: Sarah Lockett
Specs! Photo: Sarah Lockett

Since I have been doing some acting work, some drama voiceover work, some acting-presenting (eg playing a part, speaking to camera but not being myself) and some actual acting (interacting with other characters, doing accents, conveying emotion and character, singing, dancing) I have come into contact with some different kinds of professionals. I’ve done some Bollywood films, some comedy-podcasts, some radio drama.

Now, part of me has rebelled, pushed back, been fearful, anxious, reluctant to step into the unknown (as I am not reeeeeeeeally a trained actor, although I have done some courses). But part of me has thought, Come on girl! Give it a go! If you hate it, at least it’ll be a good story for when we’re all allowed back in the pubs 🙂

So which voice should I listen to? The gut-feeling that is cautious? Or the impulse that says, Get out of your comfort zone, it might be fun?

That depends on your personality, I suppose. I am usually happy to try things in the acting/performing arena (although it can be scary and get the adrenaline pumping, I admit). Equally, what I know about myself is: I don’t enjoy pushing myself physically eg climbing Everest, shooting down flooms in French waterparks, hiking/trudging for hours/days in the mountains, jogging for anything longer than 5 minutes, getting cold and wet/camping, digging trenches, IronMans, Tough Mudders, Triathalons etc (so I’d be no good in the military). It’s “horses for courses” as the phrase has it.

Other people would rather be hung, drawn and quartered than do any kind of public speaking, performing, presenting, singing in public, stand-up etc. But I’m first in line for these types of things (…”showing off” as my mum would say – thanks Mum).

In the end, I have deployed my tried-and-tested formula: if in doubt, sit on it for a few days, cogitate, see how I feel, and then make a decision. I recently turned down two jobs – one because it turned out to be soft-porn (after the director sent me a link to demonstrate the “genre” he worked in – all I can say is: it was a lucky escape FOR THEM!!!) And the other was a request to do a paid voiceover as someone’s dead mother, in a phonecall to his boyfriend, who he hadn’t got round to telling his mother had died. I am not judging (well, I am) but that was a step too far for me. I was polite and kind, but I declined.

So, in a nutshell: use your judgement, pause and pontificate, and then embrace whichever decision you go with. Just make sure you have an exit strategy if it doesn’t work out.

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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