The gradual melting away of my childhood dreams of the stage began when, at 18, enrolled in America’s oldest drama conservatory in Manhattan, the casting announcements for our first year finals were posted. Eagerly dragging my finger down the list of plays, one of which was Wendy Wasserstein’s love letter to second-wave feminism, ‘Uncommon Women and Others’, I found my name nestled sadly near the bottom of the cast list for a self-indulgent modern drama called ‘Boy’s Life’. The name of the character to the left of my own was simply ‘Girl’. I would later discover that the director’s choice to cast me as this sad, nameless, stereotype of a woman was made for one reason alone: I was quiet, reserved, and uncomfortable in my skin. As far as the programme directors at this historical institution were concerned, if I had any hope of working as an actress, I needed to get comfortable wearing lingerie onstage.
So ended my first and last year in American drama school; draped in translucent silk and running my mouth over the body of a man I could barely stand to share a room with, trying my best to exude confidence in front of a room full of (mostly male) authority figures. It didn’t work. I wasn’t invited back.