Time out, sailing the seas and character growth
It has been a very busy year and a half that has felt like 5 years! I decided to take a slight detour in my career to not only develop myself as a person, but to see some of the world and get a taste of what some of my fellow colleagues from university were experiencing!
Although the idea of a career on cruise ships, was not a path that appealed to me, moving from Musical Theatre in to TV and Film, I had found that the struggle and the hustle had left me longing for a sense of enjoyment and stability. We all know as an actor, the road ahead is far from easy, and the idea of balancing keeping a roof over your ahead alongside cancelling work for every audition that comes along is an exciting, but dangerous game. I always knew it was going to be tough, but what I had failed to succeed at in my first 3 years of being a self-employed actor, was enjoying the work I had to do simultaneously alongside the acting, which unfortunately is most often the case! It was not a healthy way of living to constantly be praying for the phone to ring, waiting on the edge of my seat for the next casting!
Therefore one morning in June 2018, after seeing various friends posts on social media, I decided I would audition for my first cruise ship. Not quite being a triple threat, the advertisement for an Actor Host for Peel Talent onboard Marella Cruises seemed to be the perfect fit. After a long day of intense auditions at Pineapple Studios, I was told they wanted to hire me there and then! This was fantastic news, although I had less than 2 weeks to move all my life's belongings back from London to Portsmouth and get together everything I needed to be able to work aboard the Discovery 2. Twelve days after learning I got the job, I was in Keighley, Yorkshire rehearsing day in day out for a whole month preparing for the shows we were going to be performing onboard.
Before we knew it, a month was up and we were flying out to Corfu to begin our 9 months onboard TUI Marella's Discovery 2. During this time I visited a vast amount of countries in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Central America. I worked hard and I played hard! I developed as a person, gaining so much more confidence in myself and with people. I learnt to fill the void that was often missing in auditions. I realised I could have the best audition ever! However, the guy that first entered the room was a scared little boy before he reached the text! When you walk in to an audition room, the casting director wants to see your personality and who you are straight off. The audition itself is probably 50 per cent of what will gain you the booking!
Whilst on the cruise, I realised I had to change my life when I got back home. Gone, were the days of walking round with canapes in the evening and scrubbing pots throughout the day! I had to enjoy the times whilst not acting, also! After a long and rewarding 9 months, I got back home wasting no time whatsoever! I booked myself job interview after job interview. Within a week of being home, I auditioned and gained a place at the worlds number one toy store as part of Marvin's Magic at Hamleys. I signed up with a countless number of event agencies and got all the paperwork filled in to work in schools with disabled individuals. This meant I could be doing things a lot more rewarding to keep the roof over my head and that I could shape every week differently with alternative 0 hour contract work. This in turn, kept my mind fresh and my creative brain ticking! The next job was to secure a new agent. I worked hard running my way from the top of IMDB until someone was going to respond eventually, surely? It felt like I was close to exhausting my resources. I eventually gained a few offers, but knew it was time to play the patience game and wait until I could gain attention of an agency that would have the contacts to take my career to the next level. After a phone call with Ryan J-W Smith in Los Angeles, and a day or so in waiting limbo, I received an exciting email that laid out my next adventure with the 'British Talent Agency'.
At this point, I could have taken a back seat and relied on castings to come my way, but we all know its still never that easy. No! I started to write, cast, direct and star in my own comedy pilot. With the help of some exceptionally talented individuals who were willing to put their time in to it, for nothing, I started a Kickstarter page and raised a small fee as a good will gesture. There is no greater feeling than seeing your own ideas come alive. 'Twenty Something' was born!
This had all happened in the space of being back for 3 months. Everything had gone better than I could have wished, apart from one thing, my bank balance! I was looking at a very empty bank balance and uncertainty lied ahead. Advance Rent, A Stag Do and important best man job at my best friends wedding, all my actors Subscription costs, a trip to Budapest and making up for loss time with friends! Before I knew it, I was broke! Then an unexpected email from head of operations at Scenic came my way again. Ah yes, that job I applied for back in May upon return of my first cruise! I had seen an ad for Scenic Luxury Cruises and they were looking for a Cruise Director for the world's first 6 star luxury Cruise. With the wedding, and all the things I had planned to set out doing, I wasn't going anywhere, however I was curious! I admit, I was probably way inexperienced for the job, but if you don't try in life, you don't get! Before I knew it, I was being offered a job over Skype. It was hard to say no, but I had to decline. I had asked Michaela to keep hold of my details and perhaps reach out to me at a later date next time round.
So after, as I described had been a very constructive 3 months, I got this email out of the blue. "Are you still interested in coming out to the ship to direct the entertainment program in Antarctica?" Just as I was on the verge of not being able to pay the rent, and my offer being raised to work in one of the most special places on the planet that less than 1 per cent of the world's population ever reach; how could I say no?
Before I knew it, I was working on one of the most ground breaking new super yachts in the world and heading entertainment. When I arrived I felt a bit out of my depth. With no previous experience in admin or a managerial role, my predecessor Grace, must have wondered what kind of monkeys they were hiring! But I was so over the moon with the opportunity I was given and picked up the job in no time once on my feet!
So here I am in what has to be one of the most incredible places on the planet. The sights I have witnessed and the vast amount of marine wildlife I seen, have felt like something I could have only dreamed of. It seemed like the sort of thing you watched on the Discovery Channel, but never would have reached yourself! I remember looking out last week over a colony of half a million King Penguins with a tear in my eye wondering how I was being paid to do such a spectacular thing!
Yet again, I am gaining an invaluable experience on this ship with some of the most incredible guests, that have had some of the most incredible experiences and learning more and more about myself each day! Although this has been a slight detour in my career path, it has been one step back to take 3 steps forward. I look forward to my journey ahead back home and it pained me to say I had no intention on coming back to the ship for the time being. However, It has been another part of my journey, which will forever shape the road ahead!
Joshua Adam Harris xxx