Khalid Daley graduated from our BA Acting course in 2017. Since then his credits have included Guildenstern and Osric in Changeling Theatre’s ‘Open-Air’ production of Hamlet, a part in the ensemble for the UK tour of ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ and a feature on the ‘4 O’clock Club’ for the BBC. He is currently playing Private David Taylor and puppeteering Baby Joey in the UK and international tour of ‘War Horse’.
From the age of five, my mom used to take me to the theatre, mainly to see musicals and pantomimes. Something about seeing all the lights, dancing, singing, acting and performance seemed to entice me, and I knew it was a world that I wanted to be a part of.
I had my first taste of what it was like to be in the spotlight when I was four, and got to play Joseph in the school nativity. There’s this glorious nature that when you’re young; everyone is watching you perform and smiling at you, and you get this warm feeling of ‘this is fun, I like this…’ but you just don’t know what ‘this’ is. I think that this experience, along with seeing various theatre productions, was how I caught ‘the acting bug’. From then on I just wanted to perform, but it wasn’t until I was eight and I watched ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ starring Will Smith that I thought ‘I want to be an actor’. For years I had been telling my mom I wanted to act but I think she just thought it was a phase.
My mom mentioned my desire to act to a colleague who suggested the youth theatre group Stage2 Youth Theatre Company, which I joined when I was 11. It honestly changed my life. They taught me so much about the industry, discipline, stamina and really being committed to something that’s important to you. It was a place that gave me freedom to make incredible friends, gain confidence in performing, and just be myself. When I was 17 the company helped me tremendously when I was applying for drama schools; from assistance with audition fees, choosing monologues and providing coaching, such as how to present yourself in the audition room. I applied for five drama schools and got recalls from three schools, including RBC.
RBC stood out for me from the first audition. This surprised me because being from Birmingham I thought I wanted to venture out from my hometown and go to London, but RBC provided feedback on my pieces straight after I auditioned, which I thought was invaluable because in a lot of auditions you don’t know what’s coming across well and what isn’t. You normally audition, wait and then just get told whether you’ve gotten a recall or not before going home. This can be difficult, especially when the expense for travel and audition fees can be extortionate, in addition to not receiving any advice on how to improve for future auditions.
On the morning of the recall I wasn’t well and nearly didn’t go, but my mom encouraged me. Of course, adrenaline kicked in so I was fine and I just fell in love with what the recall consisted of – a really intense taste of drama school life. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure whether I’d get in. It was my first year applying, I was young and didn’t know how I compared to those the panel had already seen. Thankfully, I found out a couple of days later that I had been offered a place, and my drama school journey began.
The three year acting course is intense, strenuous, demanding and amazing. You’re pushed beyond your limits and out of your comfort zone to the point where you’re just constantly learning about yourself, body, voice, tools, skills and how to utilise them all the best way you can. When you’re in first year, it’s quite daunting getting used to the timetable, classes, workload and the unnecessary need to impress each other, even though everyone is there for the same reason! Whereas by third year you feel much more in your element with the instrument that you have, and you’re able to take advantage of the opportunity to be creative in the roles you’re cast in; essentially getting to practice your craft before you enter the professional world.
I felt very fortunate to have grown in the way that I did, because the three years go by so quickly. Since leaving drama school, I’ve been blessed with opportunities that have opened doors for me. Each job has been so incredible because I’m getting to tick stuff off my ‘dream list’; including a Shakespeare, musical and now working for the National Theatre, which is a dream come true.
The possibilities are endless. I can only encourage those who are already in training to delve into your skills classes as much as you can. Believe me, you will surprise yourself! Find out what tools work for you and notice how you work as an actor – find what helps you and what doesn’t. I’d also say don’t be afraid to make yourself look stupid – it’s easier said than done, but it’s so rewarding when you get over your fears and see yourself grow. I would also say it’s important to have other interests, whether it’s in the arts or not.
Lastly, make sure you surround yourself with great supportive people, many of which you will meet at drama school, and most importantly, always remember why you love to perform!