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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 http://www.actt.edu.au/ or by calling (02) 9213 4500. Debbie can be contacted at debbie@taverner.com.au.

posted by Tom Mitchell-Taverner

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