An Interview with Alumna Olivia Vinall

We spoke to Olivia Vinall about her fantastic career since leaving DSL in 2010.

Why did you choose to study at DSL?

I chose DSL because I had already done a three-year BA at the University of East Anglia and I wanted a one-year postgraduate course because I knew nothing about the industry, and I also wanted a bit more acting training and voice work which we didn’t get much of at university. So, DSL seemed to tick all those boxes, so it looked perfect.

What was your favourite part of your training at DSL?

The part I found the most useful that I come back to all the time was the vocal training. I know that it helped me get the role of Desdemona in ‘Othello’ at The National Theatre (2013). Undoubtedly because to fill that space is a lot of work vocally and without the work that we’d done all year I would have had no grounding in it. So, the foundations were laid for me to work with Jeanette Nelson at the National Theatre and to be able to play with her in that space.

It sounds like a brilliant start to your career.

I had also never done any kind of filming before, so working with all the wonderful directors that DSL brought in, learning about hitting your mark or saying, ‘turning action’ and the rhythm of film sets was something that I had no knowledge about. So that was really, really useful.

So how did you find the transition from DSL into the industry?

Well, I was very lucky that before I graduated, I did a production of Romeo and Juliet in Leicester Square Theatre basement. I got a lovely review from Libby Purves (The Times) and from that I got an agent.

But that didn’t mean that work was solid afterwards. It was still a while of me trying to keep classes at the Actors Centre and such like. So, it’s just keeping up the positivity and optimism after drama school and knowing that DSL is a wonderful springboard, but it’s what you put in after that and how you continue the work that they’ve started with you that I think is really beneficial and gets the ball rolling.

Finally, is there any other advice that you would give to new graduates?

I often read that graduates should make their own work, and everyone has a smartphone, so they should use it to record tapes. And I do think that is useful, but I think that it is also helpful to keep working at the crafts that you feel you have strengths in.

I think sometimes there’s a pressure to create content yourself and if you’re not that kind of person, that’s OK too. You just need to spend the time working in the ways that suit you. So, I think doing a bit of internal investigation into what really drives you and makes you passionate about working in the acting world is really important, while you’re at DSL and after leaving, so you can know what kind of collaborator or creator you are.