Trailblazer Johnathon Takes on the Acting World

Published Date
09/02/2016
Author

Trailblazer Johnathon Byrne writes a great blog on his acting career and his recent audition for popular Channel 4 soap. Read about his amazing journey that has taken place in the last 18 months.

My name is Johnathon Byrne a 24 year old from Norwich, Norfolk. I have Merosin-deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and I’m one of the East of England Advocacy Ambassadors for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

It was just 18 months ago I that began my adventure into the world of theatre. Before I began acting I had very little confidence in myself and especially didn’t have the confidence to go up on stage and perform the lead in a play. I decided that I needed a new hobby and that it would have been good for myself to do something that would put me outside my comfort zone and assist with building my confidence.  So a friend of mine suggested that I applied for a Drama/Theatre Skills course. At first I was pretty against it and dismissed the idea. Then after some time I thought why not and applied for the course.

The course was run by Norwich Theatre Royal who are one of the countries leading theatres for developing new actors. The course is built too develop individual’s confidence and performance skills. The course was build up of three terms ‘Adult Drama’, ‘Theatre Skills 1’ and ‘Theatre Skills 2’. Throughout the course I have met some incredible friends and have learned so much about myself.

Since completion of the course I have found myself an agency ‘TAGA Management’ who represent and find me various paid work opportunities. This has led me to perform in many roles ranging from TV commercials (Grosvenor Casino, Tesco’s, Mccain Foods) and a performance in a music video (Dark Clouds). I have just performed a voice over for an upcoming war TV series. I also have performed small roles in various other small projects local to where I live.

I would say one of the hardest things about being an actor is finding work. There are thousands of British actors seeking work so I have to be prepared to show I’m the best person for the job.

My most recent success is being invited too an audition for an upcoming casting in a ‘famous’ Channel 4 soap who were looking for a disabled actor to be introduced this spring. The audition was held last week and now I will talk about the experience.

Being in Norfolk it’s very rare that an audition would be held locally so I had to travel to a venue in London. When I arrived I was welcomed by a lovely lady who took me to a café where she talked through the process of the day. This was my first major audition so I was bricking it. I had no idea what to expect and to a degree how I should approach people. Anyway she explained to me everything I needed to know which helped me relax slightly. She then look me too a dressing room and introduced me to my makeup artists who were there to make me look even more beautiful. After a short while I was introduced with another actor who the show had provided which enabled myself to practice my script with them. (It was a 2-character script). This actor was awesome and gave some amazing advice. They also provided myself with loads of food for my dressing room, but unfortunately the only vegan options were a banana.

I was then called in for my audition and then my heart started beating at 100000bpm. I had never been more nervous in all my life. I should mention I was so excited also. Anyway I went into the room just expecting to audition for a couple of directors….. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They had a full film crew, several cameras, 3 directors and several other people. The audition itself involved me going into the room saying my name, where I’m from and then straight into the script. Once the script has finished you left the room. In terms of my audition I thought it went really well, I didn’t forget any lines or swear.

About 20 minutes later the directors invited me back into the room for an interview which was fairly informal where they asked questions about myself, disability, hobbies, experience etc. They told me straight that I wouldn’t be going any further in the process due to myself looking too young for the part. But they gave me some really constructive advice and all had a really chat about the future and how I wish to go forward with acting.

I didn’t leave disappointed that I wasn’t offered a part because I feel I did a good job and learned so much about the audition process which I can use and take forward. They told me that they wish to keep me on file for any future roles that may come up. One of the directors is from Norwich and wishes to meet with me at a later date for a coffee where she can give me further advice to breaking into the TV industry.

I’m still buzzing; the whole process was awesome. It was amazing too because they treat you like you were already a star, had security with me all the time. It was also rather cool being called ‘Sir’. 

My biggest barrier in my chosen career is my wheelchair. A lot of theatre stages do not have access. For casting roles most directors already have an idea of what they are looking for, so when a guy turns up for an audition in a wheelchair it’s already a massive turn off. But saying this I have met some great directors who have made every effort to ensure I can be a part of their project.

Through my acting network I have had the chance to meet other disabled actors; Cherylee Houston (Coronation Street actress) and David Proud (Actor and Director).

Thinking back now, acting is one of the best things I have ever done. I could not recommend this more to anyone.

I often blog and update on my acting career on the following pages:

Facebook: Johnathon Byrne UK
Twitter: @johnodavegan
Instagram: @johnodavegan

Or you can email me at ambassadors@musculardystrophyuk.org

Please take the time to like, share my pages and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or if you want any guidance to get into acting yourself.

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