West End Actress Nikki Davis-Jones shares ‘This World’.
I left home and moved to London at 16. To train in my profession as a performer. I entered THIS WORLD in 1997 when Puff Daddy and Faith Evans had their No 1 hit with ‘I’ll be missing you’.
I did most of my Growing up in THIS WORLD. And what a fantastic world to have my adult life awakened in. A life that was structured,disciplined, healthy, active, creative, intelligent, open, liberal, free. I headed into my early 20’s a strong independent young woman knowing all the words to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Genie In A Bottle’. And the cool moves to ‘Sweet Like Chocolate Boy’.
I was ready and open to new challenges, with a constant hunger to better one’s self.
My Childhood hobby became a job. Lucky eh!? Hob-jobby! A job is a job to 90% of the population. They go to work to earn money to pay their way in life. To put food on the table, a roof above their heads, shirts on their backs and provide for their families. Simple. Most people don’t get paid to do their hobby. So for me- I was one of the lucky 10% (alongside the So Solid Crew).
During my strong 20’s when Nokia was smashing it with ringtones like Kick. When I had taken more knock backs than Prince Nazim, when I had worked 3 NON Hob-Jobbys at once to afford to live in a city I HAD to be in. When I was struggling to find cash to pay for acting/singing/dance classes to continue to better one’s self. When the pressure and constant need to be in the right place at the right time, with the right song, usually shouty or nasaly from the new wacky and obscure off broadway musical, to show off to the right agent/director/choreographer. When I was still new and fresh and I had to play the waiting game, constant waiting. Waiting for fate/Kick ringtone to well… ring. Fate was exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. Little did I realise that this stuff starts to shape you.
So, By the time I reached my 30’s, I had 850 Facebook new best pals, I was a little more grown up living alone with a couple of cats but I’d done good! I had some amazing credits behind me. My CV was looking good, I could finally take off “look before you leap” (Laines show). I was one of the lucky ones- still working! But behind the amazing credits came demons.
The demons you didn’t learn about at college. The demons you seem to put to the back of your head, when you hear an audience bang their hands together as you bend your body in half with sometimes perhaps a little head flick on the way back up. The demons you hide from everyone to save face, guilt and embarrassment. The demons that take hold and never leave. Each one, small, yet slowly chipping away. Making that strong person I was in my twenties weaker inside, yet hardened on the outside like a dime bar. Each audition, each job, each out of work stint, each duff note I sang, probably/usually an EEE vowel, each bad acting choice I made, each idiotic thing I said at a casting. Each time ‘whatsherface’ (being the girl who always got the job over me) was in the waiting room at the audition. Each time I had taken time off my non hob-jobby to get the next hob-jobby only to be cut after 5 mins, when you have spent all night learning 10 pages of script and 3 new songs from scratch! Each one a Chip Chip Chipping away.
Every job I did added expectation, from the casting director who sat before me, from my wonderful ambitious agent, from my family for the next big role, but mostly from myself. Every performance I did I tried to better myself. I never allowed the bar to remain stable, I was always battling to raise my game, causing huge disappointment when it wasn’t possible. I was never satisfied with my craft and I was frustrated that I may not have delivered a show at 100%. Which is not physically, mentally or emotionally possible. That’s what acting is duh. But I hated that. I hated that I was not a robot.
My demons took hold and hard in one moment LIVE on stage. It’s a moment I will never forget. It was when my Hob-jobby became a Job on one “celebration throughout oz” that was meant to be all about “meee- EEEEE” vowel again!!!! The pressure I had put on my body, my nervous system, my soul for years all came crashing down on me in that moment. The pressure from myself became too much. I wasn’t happy any more. My body literally shut down and put a stop to my career. Just like that. If you have had a Hob-Jobby for 15 years what the hell are you meant to do then?
I had a huge guilt issue, I still do, I feel guilty for the people who would have given their right boob to be in my position. I feel guilty for the company I was working for, I had let them all down, been an embarrassment. Guilty for the time, effort and money my family had invested in my career what would they think? My family were so proud of what I did and I value their opinion massively, it’s hard for them to understand ‘This world’ and I don’t blame them- what ‘normal’ person would?
Something has changed within me. Literally. Psychologically. Physically. Emotionally. What to do? Is there a shelf life for this kind of hob-jobby? How do we know when we are past our sell by date? Will I be forgotton if I take a break? Shall I label it that I’m done? What will I do? Most people stay in the same job for 20 years why do I get cold feet after 8 months? Are you really as good as your last show? (hope not) If so then I am most definitely done here! Will my voice ever be the same again? Have I lost the love for this? Have I lost the fight? Will anyone ever risk hiring me again? Does Celine Dion have these thoughts? Will apple ever create a ring tone as good as Kick?
‘This world’ has taught me to have an open mind, never judge anyone for their music tastes, it has let me fall in love easily, work incredibly hard, be patient, be curious, be determined. It allowed me to be enveloped in these ‘family’ vibe companies. To be influenced by incredible interesting elders and youngsters, make very close bonds with a lot of people for a relatively small amount of time in the grand scale of life. This world has helped me find the most Epic of friends for life along the way. All of which had the same dream. This world has helped me understand myself and the people in it have shaped who I am today. I love change. I love people, I love to express myself through creativity, I won’t settle, I will continue to grow, continue to travel, continue to make where ever I go a home, I will continue to learn. I will try not to grow up.
I am still looking for a new hobby and my new job is wonderful and creative and risky and exciting in the same way my acting career was/is. So here’s the thing, people from ‘This world’ will never live a conventional life, and thats ok, we will always be ok. We are workers, risk takers and legends. We’ll find our way.
PS. Get a hobby.
Follow Nikki’s newest Hob-Jobby Wheely Good Coffee Co.
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