Behind the Business: Aimee Barrett
What do you do for work?
Answering this question normally gives me heart palpitations, but it could just be from the amount of coffee I drink. It's not a straightforward answer and I most definitely live a multi-hyphen lifestyle.
First and foremost I'm an actress, working on projects across TV, theatre and immersive theatre and when I'm not acting, I am trying to hold down about five jobs at the same time and on top of this, I’m also auditioning, which is most definitely a job in itself (tired yet?)
My jobs besides acting: I run monthly events for Bumble as their Community Marketing Manager in London. I love to use this platform to hand the mic over to voices that aren’t as heard as they should be. Those that inspire and challenge others with important conversations which have a mission to raise awareness. I love to build empowering, safe spaces that people can feel confident enough to network and connect with people they haven't met before, creating a community rooted in kindness and respect.
My smaller jobs are working in the Front of House Team at The Royal Court Theatre which is like my little family. I organise and host events for the new The Islington Townhouse (Crabtree & Evelyn) and also work part-time in the events team with the Alcohol and confectionery innovators of sensorial events, Smith & Sinclair.
When did you find the work you love?
I knew I had found the work I loved when I was about ten. My mum had her hands full looking after my little brother and sister and said I could only make my Saturday drama and ballet class if I could get the bus by myself on Saturday mornings, so off I went with my ballet kit, money for the bus, a flip phone in hand in case of emergencies (and strict instructions to sit next to the the bus driver and not talk to strangers!) I kind of knew that I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I didn't know then that it could ever be a job, I just knew that nothing would ever make me feel happier.
I remember when I had my first professional acting job in St Trinians 2 when I was 14 and when I picked up my cheque at the end of each week I literally couldn't believe that I was being paid for something that didn't feel like work at all. Shortly after that I left school at 16 and went to train at The Urdang Academy. In every acting job I've had since, it's the only time I ever feel completely settled and I notice my usual energy becomes calm. Being creative really feeds the soul. I found another job I love later in life, as in last year, which took me by surprise and that was when I started for Bumble in January 2018.
Firstly, I am the most organised person I know, so doing a job that is just continuous organisation is my sweet nectar and I understand that sounds super weird, as it is most people’s hell, but there we go. The crazy kind of love for it came as soon as I started getting messages of thanks for taking guests out of their comfort zone and creating an all-inclusive, safe space to be in.
In November I worked with 100 Women I Know founded by Phoebe Montague and that event was a pure example of why I love what I do. Bumble and I gave 100 Women I Know a platform to highlight the importance of their mission which is to strengthen solidarity between survivors and to initiate open conversation on sexual violence. Their movement is so important and you should follow them at @100WomenIKnow. Another example of this feeling is from my event with @IndustryMindsUK which I'm still a little emotional from. The discussion was based on 'Opening The Conversation On Mental Health in The Arts' and this was so important to me as it was intertwining my two career paths on a matter I am extremely passionate about, the live episode will be out soon so keep your eyes peeled!
How did you get to where you are now? What was your journey?
I think the reason I am where I am now is because the passion and love for what I do has never dulled. There have been times in my acting career where it has been extremely testing, frustrating and painful. It’s hard, but all good things are. What will always get to me the most is when I or other friends in this industry are treated completely unfairly in an audition process which could be a number or all of the following: lack of acknowledging at how much time and work has gone into the role you've prepared days/weeks for, sometimes how much money is lost from moving work around and finally, no sign of understanding and care over how much mental exhaustion goes into putting your life on hold to then receive no follow up/feedback which can lead to affecting your mental health. When you don’t give an actor the chance to let go of a job, the brain will race into cognitive exhaustion.It is a rollercoaster for 98% of actors (real stat from the podcast The 98% - that is the amount of actors not in consistent acting work) but when it is good, for me it outweighs the bad, and then this industry is nothing short of magic, or else why would you stay?
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were starting out?
Relax. The world has so much more to offer than what's right in front of you. That's the first thing that comes into my head.
Your hard work says enough, is enough and always will be enough. Make time for yourself, seriously. Having one job, then coffee with a friend, then another job, then a drink thing with some other friends x 7 means you don't have a day off and you will be exhausted even though you will continue to wonder why until eventually you will have to call lots of fun things off because you need a break. These breaks will make your work better.
Also, in the past 18 months I have been going through one of the worst times of my life holding my best friend’s hand through an illness and all I can say is life is too short. Do that thing you always wanted to do, look up at the sky, eat that fucking cookie, stop worrying about what people think of you and dream bigger than you ever thought you could simply because you can.
How do you stay feeling creative and inspired?
Baths, Barbra Streisand and a good night’s sleep. I'm not even kidding.
The minute I hit a brick wall with a script, or a character or an event I'm planning as soon as I get to my flat, no matter how late, I run a bath with my favourite candle and incredible smelling bubbles, play a Barbra Streisand playlist (she is my IDOL) and then cover myself in LUSH Sleepy (any insomniacs - this is wonderful) and have a good 8/9 hours and come back to my work the next day. I always have a surge of creativity come over me the next day. Other than that, I like to watch incredible speeches/performances (Salma El-Wardany, Olivia Coleman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just some of my go-tos recently), go to a midweek matinee or a midday cinema trip (there's something about logging off midday!) and going for a dinner with my tribe and setting the world to rights.
What does a good work-life balance look like for you? And how do you maintain it?
No matter how many freelance projects, auditions and plans that are going on, always make sure you plan a day off of everything to completely refuel. Keep a paper diary, my 2019 one already looks 20 years old but if I lost it, it would be worse than losing a £50 note. My work is in it, but also the periods of time I have with myself and the time I have with my boyfriend, friends and family – it’s important to see this and visualise it.
How does being a woman affect your work?
I don't think being a woman has personally affected my work so far in my 24 years, which makes me extremely lucky and privileged. As far as I am aware I have been treated as an equal to my male counterpart in my work life so far. I must stress that is only personally and certainly not the case worldwide, which is why the feminist movement will always be here until that gap disappears and we have gender equality across the world which is a long long way away. I must use this space to highlight how important it is to listen to others that don't have the same privilege as you, this is so important to make way for change.
How do you stay motivated when work and life get tough?
I think the main reason I get through tough and testing moments is the amount of support I have from my incredible friends and family. I am 100% sure that the fact my brilliant parents have instilled self-worth and confidence within me from such a young age is why I am standing here still doing what I love.
How do you ensure you practise self care?
Well, I'm actually very bad sometimes at ensuring this happens myself. It's normally either when Chris, my boyfriend, sees me completely overworked and he makes me run a bath or log off from my emails. Or a phone call with a best mate or my mum asking when I last had a day off normally makes me realise I need to practise self care a little more.
What does money mean to you?
What one piece of money advice would you give to your younger self?
What’s next for you?
I’ll be flying to Abu Dhabi next month to play Young Donna in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! Immersive which I’m pretty excited about and my boyfriend Chris has been cast opposite me which is hilarious. Events wise, I'm currently planning my next event which is going to be a panel based on 'Generation Rent: All You Need To Know' hosted by Victoria Spratt who has passed the Tenant Fee Bill. Our generation needs transparency when we are renting and knowledge of when to question fees as well as giving people the confidence to know it's completely okay to do so!