From Winchester to New York City
University of Winchester Drama graduate Will Parker is forging a successful career in acting, writing and producing in New York, one of the most competitive cities in the world. Here, he describes the hard work that has won him roles in a number of feature films and how what he learned during his degree at Winchester is standing him in good stead in the acting world.
Three years studying for a degree in drama. “Now what to do?” I asked myself.
Well, I always wanted to be an actor, a performer and an entertainer and where better to pursue my goals than one of the biggest cities in the world, the Big Apple.
After graduating from the University of Winchester in 2010, I got my headshots done, signed up to various online casting websites and started auditioning. It was scary but I thought I knew everything. It turned out I didn’t.
University taught me so much, and I wouldn’t have been able to even start thinking about heading out into the entertainment industry without all the skills I gained during the course, but I still had a long way to go.
So I took everything I’d learnt, from Shakespeare to improv, clowning to Stanislavski, devised theatre to voice and movement, and I auditioned for the New York Film Academy to study acting for film.
Using these skills and all the knowledge I’d been passed by my amazing lecturers allowed me to analyse my monologues in great detail. Specifically, during my second year, my Shakespeare lecturer Rob Conkie, gave me techniques that I still use to this day to help me learn my lines – which comes in handy when you’re given a script the night before an audition!
The combination of a three-year full time degree and a one-year intensive conservatory has now put me in an amazing position, with agent and management representation in one of the most competitive cities of them all. I’ve now acted in over 30 short films, two feature films, and a handful of commercials, building my résumé and gaining valuable on-set experience.
My acting has gone from strength to strength, starting out as a child, acting alongside Robson Green and Stephen Tompkinson, to now leading films to festival success in both the UK and the US. I’ve also started writing and producing, with one of the short films I co-wrote Worth It? heading to Cannes International Film Festival this year.
So many people will always ask: “Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?” My answer to that question is that I see myself shocked at how wrong I was answering this question five or ten years ago. I can’t predict the future, and I’d be doing myself a disservice if I tried to live five years on from now. I’m now more present than I’ve ever been, I live moment to moment, and I’m excited for whatever the future may hold.
University taught me to not only challenge myself, but to challenge those around me. I was never a big theory person, performing was always my strength, but lecturers like Charlotte Purkis helped me have the confidence to write a 10,000 word dissertation and get myself a second class degree. Nobody expects you to agree with everything you’re taught, but at least you are given all the tools to use as and when you choose. I have now written both short and feature length films, along with film reviews and short stories.
I’ve recently worked with Buzzfeed, one of the largest online platforms for news, entertainment and advertising. I was part of their campaign with Sky, for Sky Go and Sky Q. I’ve now built a relationship with Buzzfeed director Richard Reid, and was also asked to take on a small role in his feature film Frat Pack, due for release later this year.
Represented by Albert Bramante of Emerging Talent, and managed by Deborah Dotoli of AAG Talent in New York, I’ve been lucky enough to audition for some amazing network shows such as Madam Secretary and Supergirl. I play the title character in Marcelo Mayen’s upcoming film Bullock the Bruiser, which has already bagged awards at the LA Cine Fest and the monthly film festival TMFF.
A great success came with another of my lead roles in French director Antony Renault’s An American Short Story which has now received awards at festivals in Italy, France and the USA.
Coming up in the summer of 2017 is a feature length documentary I’ve worked on with the acclaimed director Andy Deliana. The Perfect Gangster is a docu-film following the lives of several New York mafia associates from the 80’s and 90’s.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled as I not only produced this documentary, but I also provide the voice-over and all the face-to-face interviews.
I would never have expected as an 18-year-old studying for my A-levels that ten years on I’d be where I am now, and I’m glad I didn’t know. I’ve been able to enjoy my journey without knowing where I was going. Having the structure around me of a three-year, well-organised degree programme at Winchester, gave me the freedom to enjoy what I was doing, embrace the people around me, build amazing relationships and grow as an individual, into the man I am today.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the University.