Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries

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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.

Grace Savage

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2010 where I studied BA Theatre and Performance. Since graduating I have become a professional Beatboxer, Actress, Singer and workshop leader. 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, with over thirty songs written we are working toward releasing my debut Album. 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 are you fondest memories of your time at Leeds?

In a list…because I love a list:

Can you tell us about your current projects?

I shall be embarking on a world tour performing the music for Sylvie Guillem (Choreographed by Akram Khan) in the final performances of her career this year. We are currently scheduled to perform in Japan, China, Russia, New York and even the Sydney Opera House in Australia! I will be performing my solo theatre show ‘BLIND’ (devised with Leeds very own The Paper Birds Theatre Company) at Soho Theatre. I have been writing my album with Producer Dee Adam for the past two years and will be releasing my debut EP very soon.

What is your biggest achievement in your career so far?

Completing a UK tour of my one woman show ‘BLIND’ was a real test in my stamina as a performer and one of the most rewarding and wonderful experiences of my career so far. Being named one of the Guardian’s ‘Top ten standout Theatrical Performances’ of 2015 for my role as Jade in Home at The National Theatre was also a massive highlight. Becoming a UK Beatbox Champion Two years running has been quite a significant achievement.

How do you think your degree has helped you in your career? In particular, what skills did you learn and how do you use these in your job?

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.

In 2015 you were recently nominated for ELLE UK’s top 100 empowering women in the UK. You were amongst powerful women such as Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood, what did that feel like and how were you approached by ELLE?

I received an email out of the blue asking if I would like to be included in the list and was sort of gob-smacked. I have no idea how they found out about me and what I do but it’s an honour to be asked and to be recognised among so many other incredible women. If what I do is inspiring to others then that really does mean the world to me, it makes it all worthwhile.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan on continuing to make a career out of doing what I love and keep pushing myself as an artist.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to students thinking of studying on the BA Theatre and Performance degree programme?

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.

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