Elizabeth Carter graduated in 2006 with a degree in musical theatre and has since performed in a number of leading roles in theatre and film, as well as voice over, presenting and radio drama.
We caught up with her to find out a little about her experience of the joys and challenges of a career in musical theatre.
Who are you, and what do you do in London?
My name is Elizabeth Carter and I am an actress living in London.
What are some of the projects you’ve been working on recently?
Most recently I played Wendy in Peter Pan at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. I also recently played the leading lady on a UK tour, in Bill Kenwright’s new musical Save The last Dance For Me. This followed on from playing Laura in Kenwright’s smash hit musical Dreamboats and Petticoats.
I first became interested in performing at school when studying GCSE drama. I also took an interest in singing and took part in the school productions every year. When leaving school I wanted to go to university. I thought it would be a good idea to do something I enjoyed so I chose to study Music Theatre at Bretton Hall, University of Leeds.
In my final year at university I understood that if I wanted to continue performing I would have to turn it into my profession. I wrote to over 100 agents and luckily I found some good representation to guide me into the first steps of my acting career. It took about six years of very hard work before I achieved my first dream job.
What has been your career highlight so far?
A highlight of my career so far would be landing that first big job. I was temping in a school at the time and I remember my agent calling me at lunchtime to tell me I’d got the job. I cried and half the staff room did too. It was a lovely feeling; very exciting and very rewarding.
The biggest challenge for me in the performance industry would have to the unpredictability of the regulatory of work. I never really know when my next job is going to be. I have learnt to be better at saving when I am in work and I have to be proactive at finding other temporary work to tie me over to the next acting job. I usually supply teach in secondary education when out of performance work.
What advice would you give to someone who was considering a career in the theatre?
The best advice I could give to someone considering a career as a performer would be not to do it… unless you literally can not see yourself doing anything else. Your life has to centre around the job, taking every opportunity possible to step forward in a highly competitive industry. I can not commit to weddings or birthdays or holidays with my friends and that is hard, especially when you’re stuck doing another job you don’t want to be doing, just waiting for a phone call with another audition that’ll give you a 1 in maybe 100 chance of getting an acting job you’d like.
Unless you are willing to sacrifice all those other things, I would suggest doing something else. If you still want to do it then I’d say just make sure you set yourself up with a good temping job. I was lucky to get teaching experience whilst I was still at university and that has enabled me to get a lot of teaching work between my acting jobs to date.
I understand you became a Christian relatively recently. Can you explain a bit of the journey that led you to this point?
I became a Christian on 28 April 2013. At 27 years old I had never really given faith much thought and I didn’t have any Christian friends or come from a religious family. Christianity seemed very distant from anything I would seek to explore at that time.
In the space of one week, whilst I was on tour, I found myself living with a Christian family, sharing a dressing room with a Christian girl my age, dating a Christian boy, having my singing lesson with a Christian lady and my performance management session with a Christian woman. Jesus stood in front of me everywhere I turned and someone said to me that week, “Jesus is knocking on your door.” I smiled and thought, “If that’s true, I am open to having a relationship with you.” I read Nicky Gumbel’s Why Jesus? booklet and prayed, and then had an encounter that changed my life forever. I feel very lucky.
Does your faith make a difference to your work as an actress?
Being a Christian has definitely made a difference to me as an actress. I used to be very nervous auditioning and worried about the future and the unpredictably of my career. I now understand that it is in God’s hands. I understand that I have taken the talent He has given me and multiplied it in the best way I can. I don’t fear the panel in an audition room now; as long as I am doing my best for God with what He has given me I feel that is enough. I have a much greater sense of peace now I can focus on the cross in times of worry or stress.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I hope to continue to successfully work within the entertainment industry. I would love to explore television and film work, learning and continuing to develop my skills.
Visit Elizabeth’s website to find out more about her work.