Shape Young Leader - Kerry Conley Shape Arts spoke with one of our Young Leaders, Kerry Conley, about her passion for the arts, her participation at Shape and the barriers she has faced in seeking employment. Kerry is a budding actress, with her first stage performance being at the age of just 14, at the Globe Theatre. Since then she has appeared in a number of productions and achieved a BA in Performing Arts. Kerry states she would love to not only to excel in her career, but to also inspire children interested in Media and Drama. This is particularly apparent with her involvement at Shape as a Young Leader. Young Leaders are actively involved in regular forum meetings and want to challenge and change the perspectives of employers in the cultural and creative industries as well as to inspire other young creatives. Introduction Tell us about the origins of your love of the arts, education, theatre etc. When I was 14 I was at secondary school and the globe company came to my school and did a workshop. We had to act out a scene on stage of Twelfth Night. I remember the weather being awful but I enjoyed it a lot! I was really involved in the arts at school and joined many clubs including fashion and drama. Describe yourself. What barriers have you faced in the arts? I would describe myself as funny, bubbly, out-going and friendly. In terms of barriers I have faced in the arts, I have found that it takes me a little longer to read scripts than others. I could sense others found it frustrating that it took me so long. The words “I can’t do it” kept running through my head. I had peer mentoring from a dance teacher, which was great. I did two shows at college: Deptford Studios and Blood Sugar. In one of the shows I had text on stage by myself. I had rehearsals everyday and made sure I got the text spot on. The director then came up to me after the show and said, “You amaze me, I didn’t think you were going to get it”. It was fantastic to prove to him that I am capable! Discovering Shape How did you find out about Shape? What were your first steps with Shape? I found out about Shape through Toucan Employment Agency and I did volunteering at Shape while I worked. I met Leona who was working at the Royal Opera House through Kate at Shape. I got to meet loads of different staff at the Royal Opera House and learn about different careers as well. Finding my voice How has Shape helped you so far? What opportunities have you been offered because of Shape? Shape has helped a lot. I did a 6 month workshop in which Yannis and peer mentors gave talks on social media and publicising, I also met Rob who wrote about how to ‘slay your dragons’. I learned about what information is available, Access to Work and a lot of advice was offered. I’ve had opportunities with the Royal Opera House and also had an interview at the Southbank and was offered the job in the Visitor Experience team. The Splash bulletins feed opportunities to the Young Leaders and there is help with covering letters and CVs when we apply for jobs. How are you finding Shape so far? What do you expect from Shape in the future? I’m finding Shape really good so far. It has helped in every way. At the Forum meetings, in particular, I have met loads of people and had different discussions. I feel like I can say anything and no idea is a bad idea. I am able to express myself. I would like to have more interviews and jobs as well as attend some festivals and meet different people. They have workshops or ways to help you find a job, so I think the more I stay with shape the more I can help lots more people I want to help publicise Shape and get the word out! In the future I expect awesomeness from Shape! Final words Sum up your current feelings on your position. What does the future hold? In the future I hope to work in theatre. I’m really enjoying Shape as I get to see friends and socialise. To be honest, it’s doesn’t feel like work, as we get to have fun! I feel passionate about being a young leader because I want to change the perspective of people’s perceptions about disability. People think just because you’ve got a disability you can’t do as much as everyone else, which is wrong we can do whatever anyone else can do. I think to change people’s perspective on that is a big deal, that’s what got me more involved with shape. With shape it could just get bigger and bigger, you never know what the future holds for Shape no matter how long you stay with them it just gets better and better. Find out more about what we do by visiting our Shape Youth Blog here.