A Cup of Creative With Actor and Blogger Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Hey everyone! I'm back with my second Cup Of Creative interview today, and this time I'm sharing a chat I had with Amanda, who most of you probably know from her gorgeous lifestyle blog Rhyme & Ribbons! Today's interview is a long one, as we actually jumped on facebook chat to discuss all things theatre, creativity and baking! Let me know what you think to this form of interview? I haven't edited it much at all, mainly because I thought what Amanda said was so interesting but also because I thought, you might be nosey like me and would want to see the whole conversation! Hope you enjoy it!

Ok so a very open one to start with...What does creativity mean to you?

Hmm... creativity to me is imaginative thinking. It doesn't have to be in the arts. You can be a creative mathematician or a creative lawyer - I guess to me it's a way of problem solving and thinking routed in individuality and innovativeness. Though I guess nothing is ever "new" anymore!

I love that! I have a friend who is a theatre maker but also a mum and for a while she was struggling with the family commitments and making art (which didn't pay the bills). She had been thinking about how she called herself an artist and how actually for a while her art might actually be being a mum. I thought that was an amazing way of approaching life. Art isn't the product it's the approach. Does that make sense?

Completely. Even if I never act in a single show ever again, I'll always think of myself as an actress because to me it's more a state of mind than an occupation. Whether I'm cast in something, or just decide I don't want to do down that path in life anymore my training and approach to problem-solving can't be taken away.

Exactly! For a while now I've struggled with seeing myself as an artist. It’s been so long since I wrote a show or did any performing for myself, because I'm so busy in my job. Where I help other people to put shows on and encouraging people to go and see things. Then I realised that maybe that's my art, is encouraging and helping others to get into the arts. Especially people who believe it "isn't for them"

I'm in the same boat - I got really wrapped up in my day job (because something has to pay the London rent) and ain't felt that I'd done anything "artistic" in work since last summer. But it's truly a state of mind, right?

Definitely and as you said that training and that approach and way of thinking - the stuff that makes you good at your day job -it is a part of you. You can't escape it! Even though sometimes you wish you could because it sure seems like being a scientist would make paying the bills a lot easier!

So how did you first get involved with acting or the arts? Did it come at an early age? And we're you actively encouraged?

I was a super clumsy kid - like mind-bogglingly so (I broke multiple bones) so my mom put me in dance to encourage some grace and spatial awareness. After that, I never really lost the love of performing. I was really lucky, I went to a private school where the arts were very highly valued and quite competitive. Not many people get to audition for "The Magic Flute" as a 13 year old. (It was then that I discovered that opera was not my strong suit).

My mom always came to every single show - I think she ended up seeing me in Les Mis at least a dozen times. But I think she thought the arts was something I'd grow out of, and always pinned her hopes on me going to law school somewhere down the line!

My parents were exactly the same! They came to see Every show I was in but really wanted me to pursue science or languages which I was really good at at school. I think they've only just understood why I kept fighting for the arts! Especially as it hasn't been an easy career path!

Are there ever moments where you regret not having gone down a different path?

Erm, yes, sometimes. I've had my heart broken more by my career more times than by guys! Like this year when despite having had some amazing results our project was denied funding...twice!

How about you?

Not regret per se, but just wanting to know how my life could be different. Especially when friends are buying houses and I'm eating porridge for tea.

EXACTLY! I guess it's a case of grass is always greener. But the money thing definitely gets me down sometimes. And then other times I wish I was someone who works to live more than lived to work. Because sometimes it would definitely be easier not to care.

I've definitely had moments when I wished that I could just settle for any job because it's a paycheque instead of feeling like I needed to strive for something that I found more *fulfilling* (whatever that may be).

Yes! Exactly! So what is it you are doing for a day job at the moment?

I coordinate study abroad experiences for university students. It involves a lot of logistical things like visa stuff, but also making sure that they are in the program that is the best fit for them.

That's amazing though! I read your post on how much studying abroad changed your life, so it might not be acting but you must still be pretty passionate about it right?

Definitely! I'm quite vocal about the fact that I think living in another country at least for a short period of time, can be hugely beneficial to everyone. I fell into the position as my non-acting day job, but that doesn't mean that I don't love that aspect of my life as well.

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That's amazing. So speaking of living in different cultures. How is creativity and the arts approached differently in the US to here? 

That's a really interesting question. I think in a way the arts are more "institutionalised" in the UK. Obviously, there's a lot more government support -though still not enough in my opinion- but also training at some of the biggies RADA, LAMDA, Guildhall are something to aspire to, that make parents proud. I think the decision to become an actor or an artist in the US is still a bit more "bohemian."

That's an interesting difference though. In some ways those institutions and big names, nurture so much talent, but the more bohemian freedom, I guess you could argue encourages more original 'creativity.'

In a way, but I think, in America the cult of "method acting" can sometimes stifle people's natural inclinations towards approaching a text or scene. Not that there's anything wrong with method acting. If it works for you that's wonderful! But it's only one tool in an arsenal that you can have, and I find that in the States it's held to sacred.

Yeah, theatre here in the UK is very open, where as I get the sense that maybe in America they love BIG SHOWS, or classics, and the more contemporary stuff isn't quite as fed into the main stream… I'm totally guessing though!

I think that's a fair assessment. You have off-Broadway to explore some new works, but it's no Royal Court.

We're getting a bit theatre geeky! I knew that would happen

Haha, an unexpected hazard!

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Ok so theatre and acting, isn't exactly a creative outlet people think you can practice every day. So do you do anything on a daily basis that flexes your acting muscle, or do you prefer other creative outlets that you use as more of a hobby? Does that make sense?

Your question totally makes sense. But I think even if you aren't on stage, you can go about your day to day life "like an actor". When I'm reading a book, I find myself naturally looking for people's motivations, picturing it on it's feet, etc. Not to mention, I think anyone who has to do presentations in work later in life should take an acting class or two - relaxation and local techniques can make a world of difference in impressing people with your capabilities in an office situation.

All joking aside, my main creative outlays are now my hobbies and that's okay too. But I'll always need some way in my day to day where I can stretch my imagination. It's totally a muscle! And the more you exercise it, the better it gets!

Definitely! And some times you can stretch it a little too far and you have to put your creativity on bed rest but it comes back better and stronger!

Haha, that too!

first date

Ok, so I get the impression that your, very new, husband is also very creative?

He's a powerhouse! We actually met whilst we were both training as actors and he's had the good fortune to spend seasons at the National and the RSC. But his non-acting job is working as a photographer. Basically he spends his whole day thinking creatively- it's exhausting to watch sometimes!

Wow intimidating! But keeps you on your toes?

We get to use each other as a sounding board for ideas. It's definitely useful to have someone tell you that an idea/photo/project/interpretation has gone too far.

Do you work on any projects together?

I've worked as his second shooter on photography projects before - I was super nervous the first time. I was really worried I'd ruin his image of the shoot. I directed him in a pop up show once, which was interesting... I don't think I love the director/partner mashup.

Oh me and the Young Man tried baking together once, and he has never let me live it down!

I think the time I tried to teach Sam how to bake a chocolate cake was one of my most un-gracious moments of all time. His batter was really, really watery (still no idea what he did!) so I had some choice words for him when he tried to pour it into the cake tin and then promptly ran all over the counter and onto the floor).

It was browning the butter that nearly ended us!

I hope he didn't burn it!

No, he stirred it too much for it to burn! He will kill me for putting this in haha!

Quick let's move on!

You are quite the accomplished baker though! I remember from last years bake along! Do you see yourself as creative in the kitchen, or are you more of a follow a recipe to the letter kind of girl?

Secret goal: to have my own market stall one day where I sell baked goods. I need to know the philosophy and science behind a cake or treat - so some studying of some sort of recipe and then I like to experiment from there. A lot of times, out of necessity. For example, getting halfway through the recipe, realising that I'm missing at least 4 key ingredients and then having to wing it with substitutes that make sense to me in some way.

It's always good to have a back up plan! I'd love to have my own cafe-cum-arts centre one day.

Amazing! I'd definitely stop by!

Ok, I have kept you long enough. For my final question I am asking everyone for a piece of advice. So do you have any advice for someone wanting to pursue acting, or for someone who is struggling to embrace their creativity?

Play with abandon. Every person was creative as a kid. Playing make believe, cops and robbers, princes and princesses is inherently creative. If you struggle to embrace your creativity, reawaken your inner child. Play with playdoh, colour a picture, go for a walk or swim. Kids are so inspiring - if you ever watch them play when no adults are really around, their imaginations are limitless!

I wish it was as acceptable for adults to just play with their imagination like kids! I spent my entire childhood, essentially talking to myself.

Same here! I used to mostly pretend I was Sherlock Holmes' sidekick though so maybe I was a bit odd...

I pretended my front garden was a magic forest so absolutely no judgement here!

Thank you so SO much for chatting with me Amanda, this has been really really inspiring!

Thanks for having me! It's been great! Have a lovely evening!

All the photos is this post are taken from Amanda's blog Rhyme & Ribbons.
You can also follow Amanda on Twitter and Instagram.

It was so good chatting to Amanda about all things theatre and living a creative life, and I'm adding 'playful' to my list of words I want to be right now! What did you think? x

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