In this week’s guest ‘Inspiring teens’ blog we feature Phoebe Shergold-Willis. Phoebe is Director and Founder of St Albans School of Acting (SASA) which she started when she was 19. This is Phoebe’s story.
I was born and brought up in East London and I moved to St Albans six years ago; I have been performing and involved in theatre arts since the young age of four and then I really found my passion for drama and directing at my secondary school. But when it came to doing A-Levels, I really struggled and found the whole two-years extremely stressful and would panic at the prospect of exams and revision. Ultimately, I didn’t feel that University was right for me, despite being told by many people that ‘University is the only way.’ So, I decided to take a gap year.
Wanting to evolve my acting and directing skills, during my gap year, in September 2015, I couldn’t find any suitable acting groups in St Albans. After further research, I realised there was a gap in the market, which is why I decided to set up SASA. I wanted SASA to be about me sharing my knowledge of the GCSE and A Level curriculum alongside my passion for the theatre arts and the creative process. SASA has given me the platform to help teenagers become the best actors and actresses that they can be through a wide range of drama exercises ranging from Frantic Assembly inspired physical theatre pieces, to monologues and emotion memory. Recently I’ve set up a Private Sessions section of the company. These sessions will be taught by me to teens, who need help with monologues, duologues, group pieces, school presentations either for GCSE’s A-Level’s, College, Sixth Forms, BTEC’s and auditions. This could also apply to monologues for auditions for scholarships, shows, schools and more. The overall aim is to help improve confidence and with potential to boost grades. At the moment I’m really pushing this section of my company, as I feel I can give invaluable advice and help to teens who need it.
It hasn’t always been a smooth journey for me, I’ve had to deal with my parents splitting up, issues of my own with Anxiety and mild OCD, as well as my dad battling with mental health problems. But acting has really helped me to get through the struggles of the situation. I believe my mum and my nana have played a big part in my building my entrepreneurial spirit. They both have always been extremely hard working, committed, supportive and inspiring to me. My Nana is a particular inspiration, even now at 81 years of age, she still teaches three keep-fit classes a week, and has amassed awards for her choreography and group work. They are both strong women, which I think we need more of in today’s world. They will never stop inspiring me to strive to be a better person.
A year on, and I’m aiming to expand the company even more, I’m also studying and nearly at the end of my First Year in Theatre Arts and Directing at Middlesex University and loving every minute of it.
So, what’s next for SASA? In September 2017, I’m aiming to put on a second St Albans class, a class in Hendon and a class in Abingdon too. I’m hoping to do this all by myself but don’t want it to interfere too heavily in my studies. I also want to expand the company and thus my skills by going into schools and doing inspirational talks, Q & A sessions and presentations about my life and how I got to start my business and to talk about further education after Secondary School and how University isn’t the only route. I’m really excited about future plans with St Albans School of Acting as I feel that there is so much to do out there in supporting and inspiring young people. We live in a world today where we need to support, nurture and help young people become our world leaders of tomorrow.
If you are an inspirational teen and have a story to tell or know someone who would like to be featured in our series, then please email us we'd love to hear from you.