5 Questions You Should Never Ask An Actor

Katie Redford on those dreaded questions an actor is always asked - and how to survive them... 

One of my acting tutors once sat me down and advised me never to have a back up plan. He said if I did, I’d subconsciously just fall back on to it. And I think he was right.
Katie Redford

I don’t know about you but I always feel a bit hesitant about telling people I’m an actress. And lately, the penny dropped as to why that is: it’s the dreaded questions that follow. So, I’ve compiled a list of all of the questions actors hate being asked and here I put to you the ones that made it to the top 5… Read and weep my friends, read and weep.

In at number 5…

Have you been in anything I’d have seen?

Erm, I dunno. What have you seen? I know that when people ask this, they’re not doing it with the intention of making me feel uncomfortable, but there’s something about the question itself that just does. It makes me feel like I have to justify my entire career from that ‘gritty’ performance of Talulah in Bugsy Malone in Year 11, right up to that episode of Doctors a few months ago. Well, don’t.

Firstly, no one wants your life story and secondly, you’re only justifying it to yourself. Have the confidence that you’re pursuing something ridiculously tough and just because Auntie Julie didn’t see you in that brilliant fringe show, it doesn’t make you any less of an actor. People are just fond of associations they can easily draw, so don’t let it bother you. Just tell them the last thing you did. Or you could just lie and say you did Downton.

In at number 4…

Why don’t you just be in EastEnders?

I think this is my favourite. When I call my grandparents for a chat, every now and then my granddad will just pipe up with,  “You wanna get yourself on that EastEnders.”

Yep, yeah, no, absolutely. I’ll just make a few calls and next thing, The Queen Vic won’t know what’s hit them.

In at number 3…

How much did you get for that?

The postman asked me this the other day. I was signing for a parcel and as he was leaving, he stopped in his tracks, looked at me and said, “Hang on, were you on that mint advert?” (Yes, I was once the head of a Mentos mint and no, I don’t want to talk about it). So, we had a little chat about that, which was thrilling and then he just went, “And how much did you get paid for that?” I stood there, in my pjs, staring at him, taken aback by his bluntness. I don’t know why I was so surprised as people have asked me this before. So, I asked him how much he got for his job. Ha! See how you like that, Posty…

It backfired as it turns out he was more than happy to discuss his wages with me and all his opinions surrounding his lack of bonus. For a good 15 minutes. But you get my point.

In at number 2…

What if you've not made it by the time you're [insert age]...?

A lady I once used to nanny for would ask me this. She used to tilt her head, scrunch up her face and ask it in an overly sympathetic manner. If I was really lucky, she would go on to tell me how when she was my age, she had a house, a husband and a baby on the way. “Rather a lot of commitments!” she’d snort. The only consistent commitment I’ve currently got is a Netflix account. But I’m ok about this. More ok than she was, it seemed.

And at the top of the charts, in at number 1, is…

Do you have a back-up plan?

…Anyone else?

One of my acting tutors once sat me down and advised me never to have a back-up plan. He said if I did, I’d subconsciously just fall back on to it. And I think he was right. I think the more creative strings you have to your bow, the better, as it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to rely on acting alone to pay the bills. However, there’s a big difference between that and having a back-up plan.

A family friend once asked me over dinner in front of a crowd of other family friends if I had a back-up plan. I placed down my cutlery, squeezed her hand and replied;

“Karen, my back-up plan is making my dream happen. That’s my plan A, B, C all the way to X, Y, Z.” 

I didn’t actually say that. I heard Will.I.Am say it once on The Voice and I loved it so much, I nicked it. I probably wouldn’t reply with this if I were you, as it’s slightly self indulgent but it’s there for you to use if you need it, you know… as a back-up plan. Two can play at that game…

Katie Redford is an actress & writer originally from Nottingham, and part of the BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017. Katie won the BBC Norman Beaton Fellowship in 2015 via Birmingham Rep. She was part of the BBC Radio Drama Company and is now currently playing Lily Pargetter in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers and Ruby Tuliver in BBC Radio 4’s Home Front. She can also be heard as Layla in BBC Radio Comedy’s All Those Women. 

Header image: Joanna Nicole Photography © 2017