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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Taste of Hollywood in the heart of the CBD

Our own Debbie Owolabi recently found herself giving a PowerPoint presentation with a difference. Not the usual Healthcare presentation she generally creates for clients, this slideshow was titled "From Surry Hills to Hollywood" and included acting tips learnt at the Actor’s College of Theatre & Television (ACTT).

Debbie’s creative passions started early; she had an interest in acting as a young child and later excelled in drama at school. However her parents didn’t think it was a realistic career ambition and she went into sciences, eventually gaining a degree in Pharmacology. Debbie admits, "I guess I’ve always regretted not exploring my creative, dramatic side. So I joined ACTT to see if I have any talent for acting and if I would still enjoy it…also I thought it would help me in my job; give me confidence presenting to clients and talking in meetings."

Given the seemingly sizeable gulf between a corporate life and rolling around the floor in 'creative play', the choice may be seen as a brave move on Debbie’s part. "The first time I got my script and character for one performance (Betsheb from Louis Nowra’s The Golden Age) I was mortified. My character was loud, primitive, animalistic and had her own language. For a pharmaceutical market analyst this was quite a stretch.” But it didn’t take too long for Debbie’s to overcome her fears. "I think the reason I was given the role in the first place was to challenge me. When I did it it was a breakthrough for me; helping me to let go of my blocks."

The camaraderie, support and realisations Debbie had as a result of the course are still evident. "Accomplishing a three night run of our end of year play is probably one of the most significant achievements of my life. Putting on a show that the public would actually pay to see was awesome. It’s an experience I will never forget."

Now when Debbie arrives at work at Taverner she has a life-changing experience under her belt, along with tangible skills she can use in everyday professional situations. "I’m a much better presenter than I used to be. Whereas previously I would have been self-conscious and nervous during meetings with senior clients or colleagues, I now have the confidence to command a room when I need to, and to hold the floor in meetings."

And Debbie’s hottest acting tip for communicating with any audience? "It’s a matter of identifying and eliminating your blocks – the fears and old patterns that stop you realising your full potential."

More information on ACTT courses can be found at or by calling (02) 9213 4500. Debbie can be contacted at

posted by Tom Mitchell-Taverner

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