“Stay true to who you are… that’s what the industry needs” – Noa’s Story #ICMYVISION

16 June, 2021

A keen actor and champion of diversity and individuality within the performing arts industry, Noa Nikita Bleeker is a vibrant light in our third year Performing Arts Degree Programme.

 

Although she can sing and dance, acting is where her heart is, and she keeps her spark alive by always looking for opportunities to learn and develop in her craft. Noa also loves stage combat, and has enjoyed the opportunity to diversify her skills in her elected ICTheatre masterclasses.

We spoke to Noa about passion, drive and the importance of staying excited, as well as the benefits she’s found from being an ICTheatre training professional and some tips to help aspiring actors along their journey into the industry. 

 

When did you know you just HAD to work in theatre?

I always liked playing dress up when I was little. Who doesn’t when they’re kids? I took my first drama class when I was about 12, my mum suggested it to me as part of my school curriculum. I was like, “Oh, yeah, I’ll give it a try,” and I really enjoyed it. 

I did my first play in middle school when I was about 12 years old, and after that I had the feeling, “wow, this is really fun. I’d like to do this as a full time job, or career.” 

It must have been some time in high school that I decided I wanted to go to performing arts school. I know my mum suggested it because I’m also very much of a visual artist, I like to draw and paint. My parents always asked, “Oh, why don’t you go to art school?”, but I never really knew what to do with an art degree. Obviously, there are options, but personally, it just didn’t appeal to me. 

I thought, “I like theatre, I like acting, I’d like to give that a try.” I took a gap year to sit with it and decided this is what I wanted to do.

 

Why does what you do give you life?

It’s difficult to describe how performing makes me feel. It sounds really ironic and backwards – I do not enjoy being the centre of attention. But when I’m on stage, I love being the centre of attention, because that’s part of the job. It’s different because you’re playing a character, you’re not really you. 

It’s kind of a luxury because you get to tell a story in front of all these people, whether it’s a group of 50, or a theatre of 100,1,500 or 150,000. Regardless of the audience size you get to tell the story, whether it’s fictional or non-fictional, and that’s just such a joyful thing. 

 “People come, they want to see you, they want to see you perform and tell the story. And I don’t know, it’s just such a unique position to be in. It’s magical.”

 

What’s it like to study at ICTheatre?

 

Where to begin? ICTheatre has prepared me in so many ways for the industry. I remember in first and second year, obviously before COVID, we had Friday options. So we got to do all these workshops and discover different skills, and that was such a valuable thing, because I’ve never had that before where an institution was able to offer that. 

We were able to discover things we didn’t know we were interested in, and it was so good to try out skills that you can always carry with you, or at least say that you’ve done. 

Because the tutors are working in, or have worked in the industry, they know what’s currently going on, and that’s really helped as well. They also know how the contemporary industry works, so they are able to prepare you for it.

At the end of first year, I joined the Brown and Mills Agency, which ICTheatre is partnered with. I’ve been very fortunate to get a lot of castings from them and score a few gigs. It’s been really, really exciting, and really fun. 

“It’s just been really good, while I’m still training, to go out and work in the professional industry and start building my CV a bit more.”

The most recent one I’ve done was last week. I did a commercial for Bumble and that was really fun, and I did a feature film last year in Madeira which was just the best experience. Wherever you go, you work with new people all the time, and you start networking. In my opinion, that’s the most valuable thing – networking, getting to know people from different parts of the industry. 

“Another valuable thing ICTheatre has taught me is to always create your own work.”

Because when you’re out of work, or you haven’t heard from your agent in a while, at least you have your own skills and experience to fall back on. You can get a few friends together and produce a short film or stage production. It’s completely doable, if you put your mind to it, and go out and do it. 

It’s really made sure that we know that there are options, and that we know that it is possible to make our own work and set examples for other people. 

 

What would you say to anyone dreaming of a performing arts career?

It’s possible for anyone to join the industry. I think the most important thing for young performers going into the industry is to stay true to who they are, and just keep that individuality, because that’s what the industry needs. 

You want to be able to represent yourself in the industry. For example,with me going into industry, I’m a mixed race actor, and I would love to see more. There are already many mixed race actors, but that hasn’t always been the case. So it’s important to put yourself out there.

 “And if you don’t see someone out there like you, then this is your chance to actually go out there and, you know, represent people like you.”

Also, be nice to everyone. You never know who you’re going to work with. 

Another good tip for young actors is to see every audition, every class, every workshop as a new opportunity. Whether you get the job or not, it’s exciting. I’m always so excited when I get a new casting or go to an audition because you have the room for the five minutes you’re in there. It’s almost as if you have the job for those five minutes. 

“It should be exciting, it should be new, because you never know what could come out of it even if you don’t get that job.” 

The Casting Director might say, “Oh, you’re perfect for a different job.” And I think keeping that excitement is so important, because otherwise it will get a bit boring, and that’s where you’re gonna lose your spark.

You’ve also got to be patient, you’ve got to have that resilience to keep going. Not everyone will get their big break, but as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, I’d say you’re more successful than people who have a lot of money. 

Be a sponge. Soak everything up. I just think it’s really exciting; it’s an exciting time.

 

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Institute for Contemporary Theatre