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Interview with Dominic Burgess

Raj Bajaj is an ALRA graduate who has enjoyed a widely diverse career having worked on stage, TV, film and musical productions and gained credits at some of London’s most iconic venues including The Globe, The National Theatre, The Royal Court and in the West End. Following a number of recent stage credits, Raj is now working on a feature film and we were delighted to catch up with him recently and hear all about his work.

ALRA: We are really pleased to hear from you and excited about what you've achieved so far. Tell us a little about what you're currently working on?

c1198feb8041860286187098e8f8a0d0 400x400Raj: I'm currently about to start filming a Netflix feature film which I'm very excited about. It's a fun script and the part is great fun and I'll be on location for about 5 weeks.

ALRA: Since graduating from ALRA in 2011 you've been constantly in demand in a whole range of projects from classical theatre and new writing to TV Scifi and Musical Theatre. Working in so many disciplines must help to keep your skill set sharp. How else do you keep your craft current?

Raj: I try to watch as much as possible but ultimately, it's a maturity thing for me. As I've grown up I'm finding out more things about myself - my likes/dislikes, what works/what doesn't, what I'm better at/crap at... Just being more comfortable being me. Also, just filming sketches with mates and collaborating with my ALRA cohort helps so much.

ALRA: Did you think you would specialise in a particular genre or was it always your hope to work in diverse ways as a performer?

Raj: I never thought I'd be in a musical so that was a lovely surprise and one of the best years of my life. I would definitely be up for doing one again but only if the part is right. When I left drama school I was hoping for TV and film but I'm so glad I fell into theatre as I've learned so so much on the job.

ALRA: You've worked in some iconic and challenging performance spaces. How did your training help prepare you for them vocally and physically?

Raj: The training allows you to form a relationship with space, which allows you to be free and open on stage or set. I always vocally and physically warm up to ground myself and to relax so that I give the best performance possible and the techniques I've learnt at ALRA are invaluable.

ALRA: What are your favourite memories of your training at ALRA?

Raj: I have so many fond memories to be honest. But one of them has to be a character study. The whole 4 weeks was so much fun and a great way to develop and play with characters.

ALRA: Are you still in touch with your ALRA cohort?

Raj: Absolutely!!! We are friends for LIFE.

ALRA: What are your ambitions now - and have they changed from when you first graduated?

Raj: I think when I graduated it was all about just working working working on anything. But now I have a greater understanding of myself and what I like and don't like. My ambitions are the same but I've gained a lot more patience. It really is "a marathon not a sprint".

ALRA: Finally, what advice would you give to recent graduates from ALRA to help them sustain their motivation?

Raj: Really take ownership of who you are. And, try and learn about yourself. Also, have other interests like sports, fitness, cooking, martial arts ANYTHING else that you enjoy. It really helps. Friends are important but don't focus on what their career is doing or how successful they're becoming because we are all on different journeys to the finish line. Focusing on someone else's success will only make you feel down and not allow you to be happy in your own present achievements. You've got into drama school which is a huge achievement already and now you've graduated into a trained performer.

Think about your USP. What makes you different? Find out and use it! I use being Indian all the time and sometimes it pays off! Your skills. Dancing, singing, playing instruments, languages. These are skills that make you the performer you are today. I once walked into an audition and bhangra danced and they loved it so much I got a recall and then finally got the part. But had I never had the courage to show them my skills without them asking then maybe there would've been a different outcome. I'm sure of it. Also, corporate and voiceovers are definitely an avenue for actors to get into and earn a good living. Just keep emailing. Talk to people and network. If you work hard enough. You will get there.

If you are alumni and would like to share your story or current projects with us, please get in touch at alumni@alra.co.uk.

Keep up to date with what our graduates have been up to by visiting our dedicated alumni page.