Meet the Alumni – Megan O’Hara

29 November, 2021

Curious as to what the alumni from ICTheatre are up to now? Look no further – I’ve been having a chat with them! Up next we have an interview with the lovely Megan O’Hara, one of our 2020 Brighton graduates. We’ll be discussing everything post-grad life has to offer – the good and the bad!

“Hi, I’m Megan! I’m from Brighton, and I’m an ICTheatre graduate – and if I couldn’t be an actress, I would like to design roller coasters. I can’t do maths and physics so it would never work, but what a dream job that would be!”

Now Megan isn’t just telling me she wants to re-train – I asked her for a fun fact! But that definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, although now it’s all I can think about; imagine designing a roller coaster…

Megan is another lovely actress that I had the privilege of training alongside for three years,  her wonderful smile and positive attitude is something I’ve missed dearly since we graduated! But no-one can be positive 24/7, and Megan was very honest in sharing her feelings surrounding life post-graduation while we talked.

“Graduating in 2020 was interesting to say the least, definitely not what any of us expected! It’s been up and down like a roller coaster – see what I did there? Life’s not been easy since we finished – none of it really panned out the way we thought, and finishing during a Pandemic isn’t what we imagined at all.

“It almost felt like I had to grieve the end of my training because it ended so suddenly, without the shows we’d been working towards for three years, so the first six months were very difficult physically, mentally and emotionally. But once I came to terms with those feelings and the situation, I was able to find the good in it.”

“Since then, I’ve been focusing on getting all of my tools ready so I can hit the ground running when the industry is back in business! Headshots, a Dance Reel, Voice Reels, everything I might need to best represent myself in this industry. So it’s not been all bad, and I’m optimistic with things coming back to ‘normal’ now!”

You know what Megan – I’m optimistic too! Now that theatre jobs are finally opening up again (be still my beating heart) I asked Megan where she aims to be working in the future.

“I’m lucky that I’ve never put myself in a box and considered myself just an actor, or just a dancer. I’m happy to branch out and try my hand at anything. I recently had to learn sword-fighting for a live event playing Boudica – I don’t have experience sword fighting! But it was a learning experience, I got paid and had fun, so those kinds of jobs are always worth it!”

“If we’re talking big future goals, then it’s Christine in Phantom and to create the role of Kate Middleton in The Crown, but working to that I’m happy to pay my dues and work my way up to those roles – every job is a valuable one”

I’d just like to say I haven’t heard of a more perfect casting than Megan O’Hara playing Kate Middleton in The Crown – can someone make this happen immediately, please?

When Megan isn’t practising her Kate Middleton wave or working her day job, she’s working on her blog ‘Thoughts From The Wings’. Thoughts From The Wings is an insider look into a training actor’s life, and offers advice and tips for those starting training, or needing a bit of guidance.

“I really like helping people out and sharing my knowledge. When we started ICTheatre we didn’t have a year above us to look up to for help, and I think the kind of information I share can be so valuable when you’re just starting.”

“Drama school is such a specific type of training, and there’s so much that you pick up along the way that people don’t even think to tell you. Big things of course, but also tips and tricks you learn along the way, that seem so small but can be so helpful! So that’s why the blog was born, and I really hope to grow and expand it in the future”

Of course, we had to talk about Megan’s ICTheatre experience. We started with the positives because that’s always a good place to start.

“It seems right to start with the people you meet along the way, they become your family and nothing beats that. I also love that our training was in Brighton! It’s such an up and coming city, we have the Fringe here and everyone is so accepting of each other. Inclusivity is such an important part of our industry, and I feel like Brighton compliments the performing arts industry and the demographic and the people who surround us. ICTheatre has good roots and I think that’s a massive benefit.”

Of course, alongside the positives, there’s always some struggles too.

“A big hurdle for me to overcome was feeling comfortable as an ‘actor’ – I’ve always focused on Musical Theatre, so Dance and Singing was normal for me. It took me a lot longer to find similar comfort in Acting, and it wasn’t until at least halfway through second year that the penny started to drop. Those hurdles feel so scary while training because you can’t see past them, but it’s so freeing when you get there.”

“We also had some amazing teachers that pushed us very hard – Jules and Josh once made us sight-sing, and that was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done! But of course, they do it to help us further ourselves, and it all pays off in the end.”

I mean, I’m still not sure I survived that sight-singing lesson, and I had a bit of help – so speak for yourself Megan…

Starting drama school can be a bit of a terrifying experience for anyone, as there are so many things that are unknown until you get there. I asked Megan what she didn’t know about starting drama school that she would’ve liked to know.

“Obviously a lot of drama schools enforce all-black uniforms, and for the first few terms, I felt completely stripped of my identity. I had to learn how to feel like myself while wearing black with no makeup, how to feel comfortable in this stripped back version of myself.  I think when you’re just starting at a new school around new people this can be so scary, so being aware of this before we started might have meant I was more able to prepare.”

“I also think it’s so important to not put too much pressure on yourself. It’s classic to feel like you need to say yes to everything and always be available for opportunities, but if you do this too much you’ll stop prioritising your wellbeing, and then it’s almost impossible to progress in your training. So put yourself first always, say yes to what you can but don’t overdo it – you’re doing your training for you!”

To finish, I asked Megan for some advice on surviving both drama school and graduate life.

“To start, don’t ever start comparing yourself to others. Someone else’s journey and everything they’ve learned and all the life experiences that they’ve had are going to be completely different to yours. So you cannot come close to comparing yourself to them, because your journeys are both completely different and you are where you are today because of everything that has led up to this current moment.”

“You can only be you, so focus on your path and don’t stress when it doesn’t match someone else’s. Your journey is yours.”

“To survive graduate life, I think it’s best to just take every day as it comes. It’s easy to get stuck on the long game and what you ‘need’ to achieve, but the little things you do every day will help lead you there so make sure you enjoy the journey as well as the destination. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy life! You’re still young, there’s still time, so make sure you’re enjoying yourself while you’re finding work – being in your twenties is the time to have fun and not take life so seriously! So make sure you do, blink and you’ll miss it.”

Well, I can safely say that speaking to Megan was like a breath of fresh air – I’m going to make sure I’m not neglecting my social life after I’ve finished writing this! If you want to keep up with our wonderful Megan and what she’s up to, you can follow her on Instagram @meganohara96.

Think you want a taste of the ICTheatre life Megan was talking about? Check out our upcoming events and get ready to join the #ICTheatreMovement!

 


 

Author: Charley Morgan, ICTheatre Graduate 2020

© 2022 ICTheatre
Institute for Contemporary Theatre