Jaya moved from Texas, USA to study BA (Hons) Acting and Performance at Wimbledon College of Arts. With an educational background in film and English she felt she had the perfect experience to start exploring the broad spectrum of acting and performance. With the approach at University of the Arts London (UAL) being so open and the course at Wimbledon in particular being experimental – Jaya shares how she's enjoying finding her place within the performance world and London in general.
Could you tell us a bit about your background before joining UAL?
In high school I focused on drama and English. I knew I always wanted to act but I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to school for it. After high school I took two years off and studied Spanish, cinema, and English. I think through those courses I realised I wanted to focus on performance, so that I could work in both film and theatre. That was one of the reasons the course was so appealing to me, it's really broad and gives you a lot of space to explore acting and performance.
There is a lot more freedom here compared to a conservatory, so I think I'll be able to apply the skills I'm learning to a variety of circumstances in the future. I know I want to act but I'm also interested in writing and devising and directing so Wimbledon seemed better suited for not only a performer, but an expansive artist!
Can you tell us about one of your recent projects? What have you learnt from the experience so far?
The first unit here we focused on autobiographical work, which was actually really difficult for me. I think there's always a degree of separation in acting, but with that you really have to bare yourself. It forced me to explore what I put in to my work due to how personal it was, but through that I've found a way to apply that level of intimacy with other texts I've worked with. There's no way to ever really hide when you're performing, and if you're timid or uncomfortable sharing something it will show, so working on something that gave me no room to hide definitely had a big impact on how I view performance and my process.
What are the highlights of being a student at UAL?
The relationships between the UAL schools is really amazing to me. I live a bit further away from Wimbledon but I'm really close to Camberwell College of Arts and London College of Communication (LCC) so I can go and work there whenever I want. Overall the community aspect is super helpful. Being able to work with anyone from any of the schools is pretty incredible. Next week I'm filming a short with a friend at LCC and through that I've made a ton of friends that are always looking for actors to work with. You have so many resources and opportunities at your fingertips which keeps me inspired to be making all the time.
How has being a student in London influenced your study and life experience?
Being a student in London is kind of crazy. It's almost too cool. There are so many things happening every single day. I've seen probably a performance/show every week, I live next door to 2 galleries, and have some of the best large museums just a bus ride away.
Being in a city this diverse and stimulating is amazing. I can pretty much explore any kind of music, theatre, and fine art in the world and as a student it's extremely influential.
What's a typical day like as a UAL student?
I typically spend about half of my day at Uni. We have a lot of independent time to come in and use the studios to work on projects. So if I go in for a lecture in the morning, I'll stick around and work in the studio for a few hours. I usually go into the canteen for a coffee and then work a little more in the studio or the library.
How has your course and time at UAL so far helped prepare you for your future career?
So far UAL has just increased my dedication to acting. Being in a school like this where it's very self paced whatever you give you'll get, so if I want something I have to reach out and do the work in order to see results. I think that's super similar to how a career in acting will be.
What advice would you give to new students moving to London from a different country or different part of the UK?
London is fast paced and fun, but can also be really mellow. Do research on what area you want to live in because each one is so different. Be ready to travel long distances, but it's worth it because there are amazing things happening all over the city.
What are your top tips for the next generation of students joining UAL? Any specific tips?
Trust your voice and be ready to be part of a community. There are so many amazing relationships you can make during this time and UAL is a hub for it.
This is your time to find what you want to say and find the people who can help you say it.