Self-tapes are now the norm for auditions. So, becoming good at setting up the camera, lighting, and the sound professionally can be challenging. Lighting can cast weird shadows behind you. So, you’ve got to be good at setting up the shot. No one told me this at the beginning. You’ve also got to be your own director because there is no one redirecting you like if you were in a casting room. It also means you’re not able to build up a relationship with the director or casting director. But on the plus side, you can relax more and give your best work. And you can do as many takes as you feel best without the added pressure in the casting room. So, providing you have a reader, it can actually work in your favor.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Janine Gateland.
Janine is a British actress, voice artist and producer with extensive award-winning Film and TV credits, including Amazon’s new ‘Modern American Nightmare’ as nurturing Dr Asher; and TV series ‘To the Bitter End: Behind Closed Doors’ playing sophisticated Evelyn Bishop, a widower arriving in town to claim her fortune. Janine is also a multi-film-festival award winning writer and producer whilst in a leading role for the thriller ‘F***, Marry, Kill’. She has just finished shooting season 1 of comedy TV show ‘Girl, Chill’ staring as the lead, Amy; a 30-something looking for love in allll the wrong places. And she’s getting desperate!
Janine narrated the documentary ‘Heartprints in the Snow’, a story about the wonderful world of dogsledding and the bond between man and dog. She has got several movies and TV shows lined up, one of which she is the lead in the romantic sci-fi feature Something Beautiful. Playing Nichole who wakes up from a coma with no memory of her fiancé but instead, the name of a strange man on her lips.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I’m a country gal and come from Yorkshire in the UK. I was very timid and shy as a child and still am in some capacity depending on the environment I’m in. I’ve two siblings who I adore, and now I’m blessed with a beautiful niece called Charlotte. It’s very hard not seeing family, especially during the pandemic and 5500 miles away from home.
I grew up always performing in some capacity, whether it be putting on a dance performance for my families’ parties or on stage in dance shows each year. It was my way to escape Janine and be someone else. I did exams in ballet, tap, modern, jazz and show class all from a very early age. I always knew I wanted to perform but not until I was a teenager did I realize it was in acting instead. Performing arts was a whole new world to me and I was obsessed! I moved to York to go to college to study performing arts. For my first acting gig, I was honored to be in the renowned York Mystery Plays. A traditional show that happens once a year in York. It’s also the same show that Dame Judy Dench was a part of growing up too.
When the time came, I moved 200 miles to London and attended drama school for 3 years. Those were the best 3 years of my life! But it was also the first biggest step towards my acting career. Moving away from home, my family and friends was a huge deal to me but also frightening. I spent 8 years in London and then moved thousands of miles to Los Angeles. The City of Angels has been very good to me, and I am so proud that I pushed myself to follow my dreams and pursue the career I always wanted. It’s made me a stronger person who appreciates what she has because she had to fight for it! I currently live in Los Angeles with my fur baby Archie who is a Lhasa Apso mixed with a Shih Tzu, and he is my world.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
There are many reasons why I chose this specific career path, one of them being, not wanting to grow up. To live in a world of “make believe” is a dream for any actor. Being able to tell a story and play different people who I would never be. Being able to affect my audience in a way that they can relate to and the thrill you get performing in front of a live audience or seeing your work on the big screen. I always get so inspired when I go to see live theater or movies that take me away to a dream world. I would say it was The Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields that made me want to be an actor. Something about that film that was magical.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Moving my whole life to another country. The move itself is quite the nightmare when you have a lot of stuff and want to take everything. I remember having to give all my favorite DVDs to my roommates in London because they were not going to work on a DVD player in the US. It was very painful handing over 200 of my favorite collections of movies and boxsets of TV shows yikes! Oh, and I nearly missed my flight! I was at Heathrow airport with my family and friends. I was so engrossed in the goodbyes, I lost track of time. If you don’t know Heathrow airport, then you won’t know how big it is. Of course typically, my gate had to be at least a 15-minute walk down and along corridors and escalators, so I had to leg it! I was also carrying very heavy hand luggage, had 2 coats on, leggings and jeans and was rather sweaty and frazzled when I got to the gate. I was very lucky I just made it in time as they were shutting the gate phew! When I arrived in Los Angeles it was evening, and I had the challenge of driving a rental car on the other side of the road with no sleep. I ended up doing loops trying to get onto the freeway as I kept missing the ramp because they are sooooo small, or so I thought back then. That night all I kept thinking was, what have I done, what have I done coming here? It took me about 4 months to be able to navigate my way around vast LA without my tom-tom navigation (we didn’t use phone navigation back then).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Going out on stage in the wrong costume! I was doing a fringe play in London; I had several quick changes and a very short time to whip into each one. I remember it so clearly now; I was supposed to change into a police officer costume and accidentally went out in a party dress — like a glitzy party dress! It was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done. I do remember getting a lot of laughs and apparently it was the highlight of the show that night. But oh my, did I feel like a twit!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, we have just wrapped on a very cool TV series called Girl, Chill. I play Amy, a 30-something looking for love in Los Angeles in all the wrong places. And she’s getting desperate. Think Sex and the City meets Schitt’s Creek. It’s a great role, wonderful project and I’m extremely excited for big things with it so watch this space.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
It’s a hard career to stay in and you must have a lot of confidence and most importantly, believe in yourself. If you already think you will be a failure at the beginning of your career as an actor, then it’s not a career for you. There are so many setbacks, rejections, and no’s that you just can’t take it personal otherwise you would go stir crazy. If you can’t take criticism and follow direction too then it would be tough for you. You must be tough skinned, learn your craft and stick at it if you want a fighting chance.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is extremely important and needed in our culture today. It’s time for change and I think it is changing slowly. We still have a long way to go but we are making small progress. Children growing up today need to see a world where they feel safe and not limited no matter the color of their skin. Telling stories with a diverse cast, through different platforms is a place where voices can be heard, and dreams can be fulfilled. And lastly, there are so many talented diverse folks that they need to be seen and heard!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Self-tapes are now the norm for auditions. So, becoming good at setting up the camera, lighting, and the sound professionally can be challenging. Lighting can cast weird shadows behind you. So, you’ve got to be good at setting up the shot. No one told me this at the beginning. You’ve also got to be your own director because there is no one redirecting you like if you were in a casting room. It also means you’re not able to build up a relationship with the director or casting director. But on the plus side, you can relax more and give your best work. And you can do as many takes as you feel best without the added pressure in the casting room. So, providing you have a reader, it can actually work in your favor.
- It can be expensive keeping up with all your subscriptions, website renewals/ domains, classes, marketing and then all the makeup and costumes you must have for auditioning. That’s why so many actors are broke, trying to make it.
- Being your own boss/ business. In this industry you must think like that even though you’re an actor. You must be good at marketing your business and putting yourself out there.
- Networking in many forms is key and knowing how to do it well. So going to mixers, events, showcases, premieres, garden parties to network and meet others in the industry is important. No one told me that…… But hey, it can be so much fun, especially when you can put your best dress on and there is free foooooood!
- Social media! As it’s so big now, actors can feel under pressure to post something.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Self-care, self-care, self-care. You must take time out for yourself. And anyway if you don’t create life experiences how can you include them in your work?
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To get the homeless off the streets, in housing and safe. It’s becoming a huge problem here in LA and I don’t see any change, I just see it getting worse unfortunately.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My wonderful grandma, may she rest in peace. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gotten into drama school. I had been trying 2 years in a row, back and forth from Yorkshire to London. I’d auditioned for all of them. My grandma saw an advert in a magazine and suggested I try submitting to ArtsEd in London. So, I did, and got in! Hundreds of people apply each year, so I was very blessed to get a spot. I remember her taking me down to London on the train to show me the ropes getting around on the tube system. She would wait for me while I went in to audition and be there when I came out either full of energy after a great audition or annoyed with myself because I felt it wasn’t my best shot!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy” — My grandmother said those words to me just before she passed 2 years ago. It’s stayed with me ever since. She’s right though, never settle for a life you don’t want, you have to follow what makes you happy and I did. I’m living the dream.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Robert De Niro of course. LOVE his work and he always reminds me of my dad (looks wise). He’s played in some of the most classic films there is and I’d love to pick his brains over lunch.
How can our readers follow you online?
My website: www.janinegateland.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!