By SPECIWOMEN Illustration SENDRA UEBELE
"How does being a woman not impact my life! It is everything. We are so lucky to be part of the third feminist movement. Everyday women are changing history, were fed up with anything less than equal."
Give us some background information.
My name is Betty Jane Walsh. I am a Brooklyn girl from Red Hook living in Wales, doing the acting thing. I have been across the pond for three years now, and I am coming to the end of my drama training at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I have also got dual citizenship. My dad moved to the states from Dublin, and my moms family is from Pennsylvania.
How did you get into drama?
It all started at band camp… Just kidding. Well sort of… I was always a very outgoing kid and my parents are very theatrical themselves so I suppose it is in the family. My dad still acts in plays, mainly Irish ones. He opened up a whole knowledge of theater for me at an early age which was probably the main reason I wanted to train across the pond. When I was a wee youngin’ I used to sing show tunes (think 2004 when every pre-tween ran around singing Popular from Wicked.) while my mom played piano for me. This obsession evidently led to me doing musicals as a kid and I carried on through high school. I did a summer course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland when I was sixteen, and I suppose that is when I truly realized I wanted to train properly as an actor. The next year I applied to the top drama schools in the UK and Dublin, and now here I am in Wales. I never would have thunk it. Living the dream!
Who inspires you?
This is gonna sound wanky but I do not care, prepare yourself: My momma and my pops for starters. Without their support I would be… Yeah. They are just the best. I think I have the most supportive parents in the world. They are my base and sometimes the subject of my creativity. Without them I can not imagine ever having the confidence to go down this insane career path. My inspiration at the moment is Denise Gough. I think she i s the most talented actress of our generation and she is absolutely phenomenal in People, Places and Things. If you are in London I urge you to go and see it, it is a master class in acting. In the best way possible it is women who inspire me. I admire every woman in this world. My moms best friend shared some lovely words of advice with me the other day. Her mom told her once “look after number one. You're number one” the is something I think we all lose track of now a days. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to please everyone but at the end of the day it is you you have to face. So look after number one ladies and gents.
Are you working on anything currently?
I am about to start rehearsals for a one woman show called Not I by Samuel Beckett. It is a 15 minute piece of theater where a mouth floats 8 feet in the air and is lit by a single spotlight. It is a mammoth of a piece but I am so excited to get started. It is one of the hardest pieces of theater to watch and perform. It is relentless and unforgiving. I have been obsessed with it since I was 16. I used to stay up late watching Billy Whitelaw do it on YouTube and try to impersonate her accent...eek
Do you have other interests?
I am also a singer so that is my other passion. I love to knit. It is very calming and keeps me grounded. I recommend knitting to anyone with ADHD or anxiety or anyone really. It is a miracle worker, I swear by it. I have written two plays since being at drama school and that is something I love to do. There are not enough parts out there for women so what better way than to get a head start on writing them myself.
Do you have future plans?
I have just signed with an amazing agent in London so I am really excited about that. The best part about being an actress is you do not have future plans! My short term plan is to finish drama school and move to London.
How is being a woman impacting your life?
How does being a woman not impact my life! It is everything. We are so lucky to be part of the third feminist movement. Everyday women are changing history, were fed up with anything less than equal. I have been trying to keep up with the Waking the Feminists ladies over in Dublin. They are on to something over there and it is so inspiring hearing them speak about the changes they have already made. I love to listen to The Women’s Podcast via the Irish Times. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the conversation (which should be everyone). My three years in drama school has been a bit of a roller coaster, as one might expect. My year group started out with 16 boys and 8 girls which was unusual for my college. They are one of the only drama schools that try and keep their ratio of boys to girls equal. It was a fluke when all of their first choice boys accepted their places. It was definitely a massive shock to the system. The differences in gender roles in the U.S. and the U.K. are very subtle. I am not gonna say it was easy, but I have learned more about myself, my values and a whole other culture.