My acting career highlights

10 years on from graduating from Birmingham School of Acting, Philip D McQuillan reflects upon a career which started right here at the RBC. Since then, credits have included playing Rudge in the 'History Boys' at Theatre by the Lake, in Keswick, reuniting with another graduate in the original Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace production, 'Jumpers for Goalposts' and a string of commercials, live streams, radio, live staged radio and independent films.

"I can't believe it's been 10 years since I graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, formerly, Birmingham School of Acting. I was told at school that when I went to drama school it would be some of the best years of my life and it really was. I chose to come to Birmingham because of how friendly the school was when I went to the Open Day. Birmingham is a great place to go to university and both the school and the city lived up to my expectations.

Browsing the alumni pages, impressed at all the success that ex-students have had and coming up to my decade, I thought I would share my experiences, living life as a professional actor since graduating.

I’m not going to lie the first year after graduation was difficult. However, I did manage to get an agent off the back of our London showcase and over the course of the year I did get auditions. I did eventually get my first acting stage role in Execution of Justice at the Southwark Playhouse, thanks to the late Joss Bennathan, a sensational director, who I was lucky enough to work with during my training.

It wasn’t long after that that I got my second job, playing Rudge in the History Boys at Theatre by the Lake, in Keswick. The Lake District is a beautiful place to work and if anyone ever gets the opportunity, I fully recommend it. Through the 10 years I have worked on many plays, been a part of readings for new plays and also been in commercials, live streams, radio, live staged radio and independent films. The life of an actor is tough, but these experiences I would not exchange for the world.

The highlight of my career was being reunited with my fellow 2010 graduate Andy Rush in the original Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace production, Jumpers for Goalposts, by the wonderful Tom Wells. I actually never got to be in a play with Andy whilst in Birmingham, so it was a dream to go on a national tour together and end up sharing the experiences of a sell-out Bush Theatre run! Wonderful times and memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I’ve kept in touch with the school over the years, emailing and dropping in from time to time and I have always felt supported, especially by both Course Directors Danièle Sanderson and Lise Olsen, who have fully backed me through other career pursuits, including setting up my own business. Inspired by Danièle’s second year professional headshots class, I decided to set up an actor headshot photographer comparison website, which is a free resource to help acting students find actors headshots. They have also supported me in my recent endeavours in returning to university to train as a counsellor, another job to help support my acting career. I’m very thankful to the staff at the school for my time there and their support afterwards.

I’ve been lucky enough to work professionally in some capacity in every year since I graduated. I have even worked on recording a remote radio play called North Country with Freedom Studios during lock down.”

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