Amy Walsh interview: "I felt completely prepared for the professional world of acting for camera because of my training at ALRA"
Our latest alumni interview features ALRA graduate and Emmerdale actress Amy Walsh. We had the opportunity to catch up with Amy about her experiences in the industry as well as the projects she is currently involved in. Here is what she told us:
ALRA: Hi Amy, thank you for taking the time to speak to us. As we all know, you have been playing the character of Tracy Sharon Metcalfe (also known as Shankley) on ITV's Emmerdale, the UK's second longest running TV soap opera, since 2014.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience being part of this production?
Amy Walsh: Being in the cast of Emmerdale has been life changing. It's such a wonderful company to be a part of and I absolutely love getting to develop a character over a long period of time and see her grow.
I love the fact that in serial dramas you are literally doing something new every day and are constantly being challenged and tested. I had done a lot of theatre jobs beforehand and a little bit of TV work but I got to the point where I was craving more stability in my life and work.
I wanted a contract that didn't end in a few weeks or months and that is thankfully what I have now got. I feel very fortunate to be in this position and will never take this amazing job for granted.
ALRA: What aspects of your training are you drawing on in your current work?
AM: I was cast in my first television job two years after graduating. As I was coming from doing theatre it was quite a daunting first day, but I have to say as soon as I was on set it made me realise how good my training for camera at ALRA was.
I felt completely prepared for the professional world of acting for camera probably because in my training we were so often taught by professionals from the business. What I also found invaluable was the knowledge I got about the other side of the camera and all the different roles there are.
ALRA: At ALRA you were given a special award for dance - is that something you are still keeping up with? Perhaps we might see you on Strictly Come Dancing one of these days?
AM: Funnily enough I'm in the middle of training for a 'Strictly' type charity competition in May. There's a few of us from the cast and we each have to learn some choreography to perform on the night.
My style is Jive which I always loved at ALRA so that was lucky. I love learning new skills and refreshing ones from my training, so I always throw myself into anything like that.
ALRA: Your tutors at ALRA remember you as a lovely student who would volunteer for projects out of class time such as tours to schools. Did you enjoy the extracurricular activities?
And, if so, would you advise current students to also get as involved as possible?
AM: I say yes, definitely! My motto in life is: 'you only regret what you don't do'. I really do try to say yes to as much as possible as I feel you can only enrich your life by doing so. We get asked to do a lot for charity at Emmerdale and if I can I will do it.
I loved going on tour and performing with schools at ALRA, it gave me a great insight into what life would be like touring with small scale theatre companies in the professional world.
Again, you get to learn the other side and elements of acting like being on the road, managing and setting up your own set, props and costume plus performing to kids in schools and using the arts to help educate children on certain subject matters.
I still remember theatre companies coming into my school as a child and it's very rewarding giving that back to kids today.
ALRA: What was your initial experience of the industry after you graduated?
AM: I was lucky and did get a job quite soon after graduating but it wasn't easy. I was understudying four different parts in a play, had no rehearsal time myself and was away on tour for six months. It was a challenge but it made me so much better as a performer in the long run, it was like an apprenticeship. Sitting at the side of the stage every night for six months watching other people doing what I wanted to do was character building and it made me stronger for the business I had just entered into.
ALRA: How would you advise drama students, especially those about to graduate this summer, to stay motivated once they enter the industry?
AM: Your first year out of drama school is tough. You're so used to being busy with college work to do and having your time managed by someone else that the shift is hard. You have to be motivated and try to keep positive. I would say just remember that things don't happen overnight. It can take one good or, as some might say, one lucky meeting or casting to make things change forever.
Personally I'm glad it didn't come too easily for me. The best things in life are those you have to fight for and we are so much more grateful when they happen. Remember good things come to those who wait so work hard, be the best that you can be and stay positive. I always did better in auditions when I wasn't as desperate to get the roles so even if you do want it badly - tell yourself you don't.
Thanks to Amy for taking the time to catch up with us. You can catch Emmerdale every Monday - Friday at 7pm on ITV.
If you are an ALRA alumni and would like to share your experiences / projects with us, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.