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Being an actor undeniably seems like the most fun thing in the world. But underneath all the glitz and glam, a lot of hard work goes into carving a proper path in the industry. After all, Timothee Chalamet is way more than just a perfect face.

To find out a little more about what actually goes into being a real-life actor, we spoke to Levi Kenway, an Aussie actor who’s currently hustling his way through the biz. Having kicked off his career in school plays, Levi is currently finishing up his studies, at the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television and navigating the fast-paced world of auditions and theatre, working alongside some of the brightest minds in the country.

If you’re looking for a bit of inspo on your journey to becoming an Oscar winner, he’s shared some sage advice around what being a working actor looks like, so you can enrol in the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television’s acting course (which is now available at JMC’s Melbourne and Brisbane campuses, FYI)

PEDESTRIAN.TV: What inspired you to become an actor?

Levi Kenway: I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember, but I came to view acting as a potential career path when I started high school. My high school drama teacher introduced me to the craft of acting through plays, scene work and various techniques, and I fell immediately in love. There’s a lot of pressure on young people today to know what they’re doing and to be successful, which can feel so daunting and instil this fear of failure. I’m so lucky to have been guided and supported in a way that, now I see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. I doubt I’d be pursuing this career had it been otherwise.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: What does a usual week in your life look like? 

Levi Kenway: I think being a working actor is a masterclass in thinking on your feet, taking opportunities when they arise and of staying open and ready. As I am just starting out in the industry and still completing the last of my degree at JMC Academy’s Sydney Acting school, my usual week will consist of split time between studying and preparing for auditions.

When I’m auditioning, that usually consists of receiving a script from my agent, working on the scene for a few days and then filming it with my friend and collaborator Sophie Teo in her home studio.

Sometimes you hear something back, but you send off your audition, and that character is done. It’s a hard industry but that is why I have decided to study a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Acting). It allows me to learn about the industry in a safe space, gain skills and make connections so that I can become an entrepreneurial actor.

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PEDESTRIAN.TV: What were the initial steps you took in carving your career as an actor?

Levi Kenway: During high school, I worked to obtain my ATCL Letters in Speech and Drama from Trinity College in London, and this was the first step to achieving some formal qualifications towards my passion. Then I knew I wanted to continue learning and refining my craft, so I went straight to drama school.

Fortunately, I was accepted to the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television in 2019. My time there has been demanding, enlightening and wonderful. Drama school is a place to be thrown in the deep end and try everything you ask, a place to find your artistic identity and foster collaboration with your peers. I’m just about to complete my third year at AFTT, and am looking forward to carrying the lessons and training from this glorious academy into the industry.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: How do you prepare for roles? 

Levi Kenway: For me, preparation for roles differs immensely depending on the requirements of the character. Last year, I performed in an adaptation of Dorothy Hewett’s novel Bobbin’ Up. The play is set in inner-city Sydney during the late 1950s and follows the lives of factory workers as they struggle in the harsh conditions of working-class Australia during the rise of the Communist Party. So my approach was all about understanding the story’s context. Other roles require less research and more work on the text.

However, some things don’t change from role to role. The most consistent thing in my work is my warm-up, doesn’t depend on the character or the play, only on me, the actor, ensuring my instrument is ready. Each performance is preceded by a body and vocal warm-up that I have constructed throughout my time at AFTT.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: What’s the best part about being on set?

Levi Kenway: My favourite part of being on set is letting the preparation of the character go and being present with the other cast members and director. I find it liberating to trust the work I have done leading up to the shoot and then release my grasp on it, letting it sift into my subconscious.

The beauty of acting lies in letting go of this control and knowing you have the foundations of the character somewhere inside you.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into acting?

Levi Kenway: The first thing I would recommend is to cultivate an artistic lifestyle. The time you will spend working as an actor is very little compared to the time you will spend preparing, training, rehearsing, auditioning and networking, so it is vital that you give as much time as you can to engage in different forms of art. Read books, read plays, watch as many good and bad films as you can, and learn to talk about why you think they were good or bad.

Secondly, try and be as playful as you can in the time that you have. As an actor, your imagination is your greatest asset. Use it constantly. Acting requires a constant openness and availability that can only grow if you give the complex and magnificent nature of your subconscious time to explore itself. Give yourself permission to be curiously aware of the inexhaustibility of your mind.

Lastly, find people who support you and hold on to them tightly. You will go through times of uncertainty and doubt, but having people to talk to and rely on is paramount in sustaining your passion. Find people that expand you and push you to be better than you already are that will keep you grounded.

Inspired? You can check out more info and enrol in JMC Academy’s acting course here. 

Image: Ladybird