What are you doing now?
I am now a professional actor having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in the summer of 2012. I have completed a run of the Secret Garden at the Greenwich Theatre and Kings Head Theatre. (Matthew is currently performing in Mamma Mia at the Theatre Royal Plymouth).
What qualifications did you pursue?
I have a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Southampton.
I also hold a PGDipRAM in Musical Theatre from the Royal Academy of Music and an LRAM in Musical Theatre (this is a teaching qualification) also from RAM
Were these essential?
The Maths degree is not essential for being an actor but it is a good talking point at auditions and also a great qualification to fall back when I’m ‘resting’. I frequently subsidise my income with Maths and Science tuition.
Attending the Royal Academy of Music was essential to be seen by leading industry professionals and to be able to get a foot in the door for important auditions. The LRAM qualification is good for when I coach in Musical Theatre as another source of income.
If you took a gap year, what did you learn about yourself and what did you do?
I took two GAP years trying to get into drama school. During this time I performed in many local productions and spend the time working as a bank cashier at HSBC. I then decided to get an academic degree first, so was accepted at the University of Southampton to study Mathematics.
What advice would you give to someone joining DHSB in Year 7?
I was scared when I joined DHSB because I came from a country primary school of about 80 pupils. Suddenly going to a school of over 1,000 was a big adjustment but there was no reason to be scared. Work with your teachers, believe it or not there are there to help you. Make friends (I still have many friends that I met on my first day at DHSB) and don’t be afraid to try new things. If I hadn’t auditioned for Les Mis at school I probably wouldn’t be a professional actor today.
What advice would you give a Sixth Former student leaving school?
At university I saw a lot of people drop out because they had chosen a ‘worthwhile’ degree rather than something they were genuinely interested in. Luckily my passion for Maths got me through mine, but I would advise to be careful about what you choose.
It’s also not too late to change your degree once you’re there! If you’re not going to uni then definitely go travelling. One of my big regrets in life so far was that I didn’t spend my gap years seeing the world, it sounds amazing from everything I’ve heard and I still hope to go one day.
Also a general word of advice is be nice to people and network! Very often jobs and opportunities come down to ‘who you know’ or recommendations from people. You never know when a contact might prove useful.
What have you learnt most about yourself?
I’ve learnt that most limitations I’ve found have been put there myself. It sounds cheesy but you’d be surprised what you can accomplish.