Anne-Marie Hughes

The Day I Woke Up

Anne-Marie Hughes

The Day I Woke Up

My professional acting life began the day I woke up. Sound strange? It was.

I was sitting waiting for the curtain to go up at the National Theatre. The play, Therese Raquin. It was my birthday, something felt different. A familiar longing to be a part of the performance.   Casually flicking through the programme, I stopped, the words jumped out. A drama school was offering courses for ‘mature actors.’ Instead of turning over the page I sat and stared. That was when I woke up. A life that I had pursued when young but gave up for various reasons, had opened again. This was a message writ large. If I didn’t listen now, I never would.

Yet as I sat in the theatre I was caught unawares at this powerful moment. It opened my mind to the possibility that maybe, just maybe I wasn’t too late. So, I gathered my courage and started to follow the threads of my dreams. Doors started to open, doors that I would have never dared knock on. I followed my heart and my truth and auditioned for a place at a drama school. Much to my absolute joy, I was accepted. It literally changed my life. My wonderful husband was behind me all the way. Understanding that I had to follow this path. And when, especially in the early days, I found it all too scary and wanted to turn and run, he told me to shape up and assured me that I could do this.

It took courage at my late stage, to grab this life before it disappeared, I discovered within me, a strength I hadn’t realised I had. Of course, after graduating life became different again. I was up against mature experienced actors and a rocky unpredictable path. It’s tough as we all know. But I chose this amazing and crazy life! Including castings and expectations to play the stereotype ‘older woman’. You know, the cuddly, docile, everyone’s favourite granny type. I am not easily pigeonholed. I have a wide playing range. From comedy to drama. I was asked recently what my ideal role would be. My answer. I must go beyond the outer shell into the real story behind the person I am playing.

Therefore, whether I play a mother, a grandmother, a top-class barrister, a criminal on the run, an eccentric aunt, or even ‘M’ in James Bond, it’s important to find the essence of that character.

I want to tell the characters story in an intelligent and compassionate way. I want to move away from stereotyping. Rules are made to be broken. I’m all for positive change. To see women portrayed in all their guises at any age.

Signing with SD Talent Management was a pivotal moment in my life. Suzanna is a true force of nature. Since then, I have never felt so supported and cared for. Her determination and quest to find my place in this industry is awesome. I entered this year with hope and optimism, plus a new short film. Then lockdown. Sadness. Fear. I was devastated. But then someone described it as a form of grief with its seven stages. The last stage being acceptance. It helped me understand and realise that this is life, for now. And to embrace the changes that this new world is manifesting. I’ve really enjoyed my online poetry readings. A new online creative world is emerging.

Who knows what the future will bring but I am hopeful that I can break free from the confines and have the chance to embrace many and varied roles! As my dad used to say to me “Hope springs eternal kid!”