View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
12 December 2019

The road not taken: Bernardine Evaristo on her career in theatre

By Bernardine Evaristo

My first career was as an actor in the 1980s. I’d spent my teenage years acting at Greenwich Young People’s Theatre and loved performing and being in a creative space. At the age of 14 I starred as Captain Cat in a school production of Under Milk Wood, which was a big success. Here, at last, was the approval I’d been craving. I set my heart on a career in theatre, went to Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama and left to co-found a theatre company, Theatre of Black Women: because there was such a paucity of roles for us, good or otherwise, it made sense to create our own theatre.

So far so good, except the stresses of running an underfunded theatre company 24/7 and writing and performing in my own plays proved too much and I stopped enjoying acting in front of an audience. What had begun as a vocation became an ordeal. Four years after I began acting professionally, I gave it up.

To be honest, I didn’t feel that I was a great actor, and my range was, shall we say, limited. With hindsight I can see that I didn’t do it long enough to develop my skills. When you’re young, you think that either you have a special talent or you don’t. Life has taught me that talent has to be nurtured over a long period and then it’s incredible what can be achieved.

I don’t regret leaving the acting world. Actors have it so tough and unless they generate their own productions, they are constantly at the mercy of others – waiting to be chosen. My temperament is much more suited to being a writer. I’m not an introvert but I have a strong interior world, and as a writer I’m always presenting myself at events to the public, which is a kind of performance.

This article is from our “Road not taken” series

Content from our partners
Future proofing the NHS
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE
Labour's health reforms can put patients first

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.