Course: BA Theatre and Performance
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My background in performance has always been rooted to theatre. I started performing and taking acting classes at around 8 years old. I was introduced to beatboxing at 15 years old by a friend and that’s when I started to learn the basic sounds. Then when I was at Leeds, I eventually plucked up the courage to start performing my first solo gigs. After I graduated I begun working in theatre as a beatboxer and started to teach beatboxing workshops in schools as well.
I was around 23 when I started singing; I was spotted by a producer during a talent contest and she invited me to the studio the following week, we wrote a song and have been working together ever since. My career now consists of a healthy mix of music and theatre often with the two overlapping and complimenting each other. I have such a passion and love for both and am very lucky that I get to create and perform for a living.
What did you enjoy the most about your time at Leeds?
Travelling to South Korea with the University to study Korean culture, writing and staging my first ever play (an adaptation of Hitchcock’s ‘Rope’), performing my solo beatbox set for the first time ever at a local open mic night, and creating and performing in our final third year production of ‘Magic and Impossibility’.
The skills and life experience that I gained during the degree were invaluable. I look back on my time in Leeds now and see that it was an incredible opportunity to network with other creative people, experiment with ideas, hone my skills and decide who and what I wanted to be doing with my life; I wrote my first play, I taught my first workshop, I directed a company of thirty students in our first year. The confidence I gained and the leadership and collaborative skills I learnt from those projects has certainly been used in every project I have been involved in since I graduated.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying your course?
Be nice to everyone you work with; every technician you meet, every performer you collaborate with, every audience member you talk to after a show – it’s really important. No one likes to work with an ego and the majority of directors and writers I know would rather cast/employ a nice person with a hard working attitude over a ‘talented’ individual who is difficult to work with. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Give the world what you have to offer, even if you feel it’s not your best work.
Since graduating, Grace has found success as a professional singer, actor and beatboxer. You can read about her achievements on her website, but highlights include:
- Performed in the 2015 world tour of legendary ballerina Sylvie Guillem.
- Ranked in the Observer theatre critic Susannah Clap’s 10 standout theatrical performances of 2014, alongside such greats as Gillian Anderson, Cary Mulligan and Imelda Staunton.
- Launches solo show ‘BLIND’, which was devised with Leeds-based theatre company The Paper Birds.
- Nominated for ELLE UK’s top 100 empowering women of 2015.
- Performed at BBC Radio 1’s Academy, at the inaugural SBTV RISE, and for the British House at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
- Released debut EP ‘Savage Grace’, and undertook a supporting UK tour, in 2017.
- Nominated for ‘Best Female Solo Act’ and ‘Best Songwriter’ at the Unsigned Music Awards 2018.
It’s been a few years since you graduated, is there anything you’d like to add now?
I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since I graduated from Leeds! I registered as self employed in my first year out of university and have never looked back. It’s been a tough learning process, a lot of rejection, uncertainty and unemployment but through hard work, patience and building plenty of connections along the way, I have seen my career steadily grow into something I can say I am truly proud of. Being a full time artist is unpredictable and often difficult with little financial security but the freedom to live a creative life and do a job that I love every day makes it all worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.