Know your craft
“Do what makes you happy. Do what you love. Do what excites you.”
With an easy-going personality and an infectious smile, Krissi McIlqham shares what she believes will result in success.
Sitting in the cosy café, the pleasant aroma of coffee lulls us into a peaceful chat. The buzzing chatter of the students around us, together with the warm rays of the sun shining through the window enhances the ambience of the room.
Similar to the comfort of the room was Krissi. It felt like I had known her for far longer than the five minutes I was there.
From her interactions with her students, I can see that she is respected for her knowledge of the entertainment world and her willingness to help her students succeed.
From a young age, she always dreamed of being an actress, but her desire for more recognition has pushed her past her juvenile aspirations, and now, she can call herself actress, producer, teacher, and Managing Director.
One day while acting, her friend, who worked at Mad Dog 2020, informed her that the extras casting agency was looking for a person to assist in film casting. From then on, Krissi progressed through the roles of Head of Television, Head of Television and Commercials, Head of Casting and finally Managing Director.
Krissi doesn’t believe in giving up one thing to pursue the other. Even if you don’t specialise in the role, you should still try it out.
When she first started acting, she described herself as being sensitive, especially when it came to being rejected. But now that she has been on the other side of the coin, she now sees how much work goes into casting and understands that directors look for particulars when choosing an individual for a role.
“People who look like foxes”
The weirdest brief for a role she received was “people who look like foxes”. Since supporting artists don’t have any lines, they are chosen purely based on appearance.
However, when she worked as a producer, the actor has to arouse emotion in her, or as she said “make her feel something”. For her, choosing the right fit for a role is purely instinctual.
Being a producer is no easy job. From casting to budgeting, for those who aren’t natural producers it may seem even harder. “I’m not a fan of producing, as it feels like a thankless job.”
However, even though she didn’t enjoy it, she still did it as she knew that it would help her develop her craft. Even with her clear dislike for producing, she enjoyed her first production as it made her realise she could do it herself and make her own work.
Her work in producing has made her adore the writer/producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes as she believes the producer has done a lot for diversity in the acting world. “I’m obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, I’ve probably watched that show about thirty times.”
Krissi advises that anyone trying to get into the acting world, they should train. “Acting is hard and it needs work so you should train classically by understanding Shakespeare. Training your voice and body takes time.”
“Acting is personal.” When saying those words, reflecting in her eyes was the passion she had for acting and teaching acting. Even with her expertise in the field, she says she doesn’t know the right or exact way to act and that there isn’.t one way to teach an actor.
“Every actor needs to find their own actor tools”. In this way, they would understand the different acting methods and how to use them. She then tells me that this can only be done through constant training.
Throughout the conversation, Krissi’s smile was a constant, while talking about acting. I could tell that it was something that made her feel spirited. With the sun at its peak, I said my farewells but something she said stuck with me that could be applied to other jobs you are looking to pursue.
“You don’t have to go to an accredited drama school to succeed, you just have to know your craft.”
Permission was granted to use the photographs.