2020 Acting BA (Hons) Rose Bruford College graduate Jessica Whitehurst joins the ten global students selected for the Warner Bros. Actors in Training Program.
We spoke to Jessica about the experience and how it is helping her career.
I first heard about the initiative from our acting programme director, David Zoob. He had sent an email to all of us advising us to apply, and at first, I was in disbelief. "Warner Brothers... WOW!" I knew that I wanted to put my ALL in the application.
It was such a great opportunity that I jumped around the house and told my brother straight away, that "I think this thing is in my plan". The nerves made me delay applying for a day, then I started to receive messages from my friends, forwarding the social media reach out, so I refused to put it off any longer.
What was the audition/application process like?
The whole process was a lot of fun, from start to finish; it was a real glimpse into the industry.
Firstly, we had to send off an application to introduce ourselves. Moving through to the next round, we sent off a tape from the choice of amazing Warner Brothers TV projects. It was a real learning experience for me, as it was one of the first times I had to learn that you need put everything into your work, make it the best it can possibly be, and then once you have thrown it into the universe, you just have to trust you have given it your all. There is nothing more you can do.
Now that you are in the select 10, what does this entail?
I am so thankful for the WBTV Actors in Training program; it's given us all so much - the great opportunity to meet the casting team in the US, the chance to share this with nine other amazingly talented people, email support and knowing that we have people on our team who believe in us.
The casting team meeting was a situation I've dreamt of since I was a young girl; I spent the whole day thinking about it, down to every little detail - my research and making sure I had the right outfit on importantly.
I was so excited, and it turned out to be the most lovely introduction into the industry; meeting all of the amazing people at WBTV was surreal.
Where were you when you get the email or call?
The time difference meant that I had received all of the early contacts in the middle of the night. So when I got the email saying I was one of the winners, I had just woken up; I shouted to my mum so loud that she thought something bad had happened.
I put my phone camera on and said, "Mum, I did it, I got the Warner Brothers Actors in Training Program". We cried, we smiled, we called every family member from here to Jamaica, and I rewatch that video each time I need to remind myself to stay hopeful.
I was so proud of Bruford as well, as the call-out was worldwide, and there were many drama schools involved. After I had found out, I got invited to speak to some students at my old high school who wanted to go to drama school. I mentioned Warner Brothers, and the look in their eyes made my heart stop.
Through my whole journey - from auditioning for drama school to getting in and then being one of the WBTV winners, my main focus is to aspire to inspire.
Being a young woman from south London, I've always wanted to come back and tell other kids that I believe in them, that they lack opportunity, but not the talent - and suddenly, the looks on the kids faces made everything worth it. That's when it hit me. I had done it; it really was in my plan.
How has this helped you during your first year out of graduation?
Being a graduate is tough already, and then being a grad in the dreaded year of 2020 is another thing.
WBTV has given me such a huge sense of confidence and hope for the future in a time where no one has anything to plan for. It's helped me stay grateful for everything and remember that I would stay up at night, as a teenager, thinking about my dream of being an actor, and now these things really are possible. This is only the start.
What advice would you give to someone who sees an audition or application like you did and is scared to apply?
Acknowledge you are scared, and then run towards it. If you are nervous, that's exactly why you should do it - to push yourself out of your comfort zone and keep moving.
There are so many opportunities floating around social media now, so stay vigilant and prepared. When these things pop up and excite you, enjoy and connect with them.
For me, this was such an important step in the professional development stage of my time at Rose Bruford because I had to dig up the confidence to put myself out there. What's the worst that could happen? You don't get it? Then the time you do get something, it's going to feel so good, because you know the journey you've been on.
You can find Jessica online - Instagram: @Jessicawhitehurst_ Twitter: @jwhitehurst_