How to emulate the career of the three time Emmy award-winning actress/writer/badass.
Watching the final episode of season 2 of Fleabag, with tears streaming down my face, I knew I had found a new role model — Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Here was a woman who had gotten her start on the stage and then made the leap to film and TV, using comedy to lure people into a story and trick them into feeling.
There are many actresses I admire, but few whose careers I wish to emulate. Countless actors have worked both the stage and screen, but what draws me to Waller-Bridge’s career is the self-made aspect of it. She wielded her writing like a weapon, and fought her way right to the top.
Desperate to follow in her footsteps, I did a little deep diving to find out how Waller-Bridge took over the entertainment industry. While there is, of course, no “how-to” for becoming a megastar, below are three major takeaways I gleaned from her journey.
1. She created her own theatre company.
Waller-Bridge and her collaborate Vicky Jones are the co-artistic directors of DryWrite, an Associate Company of Soho Theatre. It was there that Fleabag — then a one-woman show written and performed by Waller-Bridge — had its first preview
As a part of DryWrite, Waller-Bridge and Jones would throw different events to encourage and generate new writing. Waller-Bridge often took part in these events herself, honing her writing abilities just by showing up and participating.
Takeaway: Don’t wait for someone else. Creating your own opportunities may mean taking on some financial burdens, but it will give you a place and a platform to create and have your work get seen. Having a company — either your own, or one you are a part of — will give you support and push you artistically.
2. Letting the story out through stand up.
Waller-Bridge has shared that Fleabag was born out of a 10-minute stand up routine she performed for Jones and other women. In a 2016 interview with New Statesman America, Waller-Bridge said, “I thought, ‘I’ve just got to go completely my sense of humour for the first time ever. I’m going to try ten minutes of just outrageous naughtiness.’”
Takeaway: Get out of your comfort zone! See what material comes up when you stay in your authentic voice — that’s where the best work comes from anyway.
3. Taking her work to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
After previewing at Soho Theatre, Fleabag went on to have its premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013. This is where she really began to drum up some interest around herself.
While it may be costly to take a show to Scotland, with its international reputation, the Edinburg Fringe Fest can be a great place to launch a career.
Takeaway: Tap into platforms that lend your work some credibility. You can get much farther when backed by an organization’s reputation.
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