Catching-up with Carys Bowkett, 24th Genesis LAMDA Scholar
Monday 13 November 2018
Carys Bowkett is the 24th Genesis LAMDA Scholar to graduate from the leading drama school. She completed her BA in Professional Acting with flying colours last June and has already signed with HMcP Agency. We caught-up with her between two exciting auditions.
The freedom to try, fail, learn and try again
I feel incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity of studying at LAMDA with the support of the Genesis Foundation. Drama school was one of the most amazing, challenging, empowering experiences of my life. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for it, it’s something that’s hard to explain to new students coming into the school. You can talk about the long hours, the emotionally tiring Uta Hagen exercises, trying to fit through doors in huge hoop skirts for the restoration project and of course the incredible teachers who are there to help you with all of this, every step of the way. But it’s hard to explain to someone just what it means to be given a safe space that empowers you to learn. Somewhere that instils in you the confidence to take a flying leap at an exercise, fall flat on your face and then pick yourself up and try again. I am incredibly grateful to the Genesis Foundation for financially supporting me through my studies, so that I didn’t need to worry about how I was going to top up my student loan in order to pay the rent. I could put all my time and energy into the free fall of trying, failing, and learning.
There’s so much I want to do. There’s a lot going on politically at the moment and it feels incredibly important to have a range of voices speaking out. I’m also incredibly interested in period dramas. I think we learn a lot from the past. I know before I started LAMDA there were so many important stories from history that I had no idea about and have really learnt from. I’d love to share that experience with others. It feels like a good time at the moment to take stock of what we’ve learnt as a society in the past and not repeat those same mistakes. I also left LAMDA with a huge excitement to create my own work and hope to take some of my ideas to the next stage soon.
The Genesis Network
Having my mentor has been invaluable. I think the Genesis LAMDA Network is a fantastic idea for everyone first entering the industry both in terms of your mentor’s contacts and advice but mostly their support and reassurance in not feeling alone in a very big industry. Genesis has also provided practical on-going support through things like a Twitter course – helping us to become better at marketing ourselves through social media.
Diversity, scholarships and finding your voice
One of the best things about going away to study at LAMDA was getting to meet and learn alongside so many amazing people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences. LAMDA does great work striving to take this further all the time, but the diversity we did have was invaluable. Our individual experiences would make us look at exercises in different ways which enabled us to learn hugely from everyone’s different approaches. I was taken out of my rural bubble (where, with dangerously underfunded schools and little to no career opportunities it’s easy to begin to feel forgotten about by society) and shown that there is a larger world out there which I am a part of. Scholarships help massively with ensuring diversity in the school. One in five people in my year were on a scholarship and I can’t tell you how amazing that is, not just for the arts, but for society as a whole. Although unfortunately since starting my degree I have seen the path through which I got to LAMDA being cut off for others. I was extremely lucky to have an amazing drama teacher who could help me come up with a plan of action to combat my financial hurdles – someone who believed in me and could work with me on my audition speeches. But sadly due to massive funding cuts, the amazing drama department that went beyond their syllabus to make sure we were as prepared as anyone applying from a private school, has gone.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have an amazing, nurturing agent who is getting me into rooms that I never would have thought possible. I’ve had the most incredible and varied experiences from flying (on more than one occasion) to jumping off the top of fantastical staircases. I’ve got to meet and work with some incredible people, and for every opportunity I am given I thank my lucky stars that somewhere along the way, the Genesis Foundation decided to redress the balance in our industry and give someone like me a chance at drama school. Since graduating I’ve learnt that now more than ever it’s important to remain sane in a world that can often feel out of your control, but I’m continuing to learn from every experience that is thrown my way and am getting closer and closer to where I want to be.
Coming from an underprivileged area can give you the mentality that ‘some things just aren’t for me’. Just keeping your head above water is a massive achievement and not to be scoffed at. Sometimes it felt like it was so improbable that I was even at drama school, that I had only made it there on a wing and a prayer and that at any moment I could be found out – that these amazing opportunities weren’t for people like me. But, LAMDA taught me that I have a valid opinion, and I have a voice. We should all have the right to an education and a voice. Huge issues are caused when we take the voices of different sections of society away. The whole experience at LAMDA has filled me with the confidence that I need going out into the industry. LAMDA and the Genesis Foundation have taught me, that yes, these opportunities are for people like me too.
Taking people’s opportunities away and making them feel like they ‘can’t’ do something is an incredibly dangerous and harmful thing to do. In my experience LAMDA is one of the few trying to counteract that by actively going out there with outreach in schools, and regional auditions, and saying you ‘can’. With talent and hard work, you CAN. We will support you so that you CAN. And that is a beautiful and important thing. It fills me with hope for the future, because I want to be a part of a society that gives a voice to people at every level.
Watch this space
For over 15 years, John Studzinski and the Genesis Foundation have supported LAMDA by helping the Academy nurture and develop talented young actors through an annual Genesis Scholarship. The Genesis LAMDA Scholarship is funded by the Genesis Foundation and covers the tuition fees of an exceptionally talented actor’s three years of study, as well as offering a substantial contribution to their living expenses. Former Genesis LAMDA scholars such as Samuel Barnett and Tom Riley have gone on to enjoy diverse and critically-acclaimed careers on the stage and screen.
The Genesis LAMDA Network at the internationally renowned drama school in West London is a flagship mentoring programme for actors, stage managers and technicians, which offers students vital support beyond graduation and equips them with the skills and knowledge they need to develop successful and sustainable careers in the industry.