Mia Nelson joined our Storyhouse Young Company when she was 15, taking part in shows such as The Boy Preference and The Snow Dragons. From there, she managed to get a trainee role in the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre production of Pride and Prejudice, before playing Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Grosvenor Park over the summer. In this interview, she shares more about her experience of being a part of the company and what’s she been getting up to since.
Can you tell us how old you were when you first got involved with young company and a bit about that experience?
I first got involved in Young Company in 2017 when I was 15. I had never done any kind of acting before joining apart from being in the ensemble for the musicals at my high school so I was very nervous about starting. I decided I wanted to do it as I was dealing with a few things that had really impacted my confidence and made me a very anxious person. I was terrified for the first few weeks but after a while, I settled in and had the best time working on shows like The Boy Preference and The Snow Dragons during my first two years, before experimenting with devising and creating original pieces after that. I made friends who I am still close with today and got to learn so many new skills.
Storyhouse really do make sure that Young Company is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone to explore and experiment with performance and they have been there for me through every step of my journey. I know I can go back and ask for advice or support at any time.
You secured a trainee role in the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre production of Pride and Prejudice. Can you tell us a bit about the process of how you got that role? And can you describe how it felt to be performing for audiences in Grosvenor Park?
I was given the opportunity to audition for Pride and Prejudice during my third year as part of Storyhouse Young Company. Again, I was terrified and very nearly didn’t apply as I was so anxious about it, but I was convinced by one of my friends at Young Company. We were asked to perform a few scenes from the production as well as a song (this was my first time singing in front of anybody ever!) and it was my first proper experience of an audition.
I have never been more excited than when I received the news that I had gotten the role of Mary, and each day following that was just the most wonderful experience. The cast and crew that worked on the show were the absolute best and made me feel so welcome and supported. I loved every day of rehearsals, and seeing how a professional production operates was so interesting. It was incredible to see how everyone worked together to bring the story to life and seeing how all elements came together like design, stage management, choreography and music. It has always been my dream to be a part of the Grosvenor Park summer season, as I have gone every single year ever since I was a child. The feeling of performing there is hard for me to describe. It is a space like no other and was truly magical.
The cast and crew became my family that summer and I felt extremely lucky to get the chance to work with and learn from them. The show itself felt really special too and was so beautifully written and directed. It was amazing to see the audiences reactions. Every night felt like a celebration. I could write forever about how much being a part of this show in this space meant to me and I still get a bit emotional every time I look back on it.
What has been your proudest moment of your acting career so far?
It has to be being able to perform in Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre. There really is magic in the air in that space. I went to watch my first show there in 2010 and have been back every single year since. It was a real dream come true for me to be a part of the season there and every single day was so so special. Ever since starting my journey with Storyhouse, I had always had that on my bucket list of things to achieve as it is such a special theatre to me and holds so many incredible memories. It will always be one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and I would do it all over again in a heart beat.
Being a part of Alice’s Adventures was also a huge personal achievement for me as it was nothing like I’d ever done before. The prospect of doing a performance outside of a conventional theatre space and it being completely interactive was daunting. Despite my nerves however, this project was so wonderful. We had an incredible team working on it who were all so collaborative and supportive of each other that we were able to bring the idea to life very quickly. The cast and crew worked so hard to create a really immersive experience for the audience and I am very grateful to have had the chance to experience a project like that. I am so proud of what we were able to achieve and being able to see the excitement and wonder on the children’s faces was the biggest reward. It really did feel like an incredibly special show that was full of fun and spirit and it pushed me to go and try things out of my comfort zone.
Would you recommend Storyhouse Young Company to other young and aspiring actors?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t have had the incredible experiences I have had without it. Honestly, some of my happiest and most special memories are due to making those first steps in applying to Young Company. It has grown my confidence massively and has allowed me to meet like minded young people, many of whom I still call some of my closest friends. It is the best space to experiment and grow in as everyone is so welcoming and open to your ideas. They provide so many opportunities for young creatives and continue to be there to support you at any stage of your journey. It really gave me such a great foundation to develop and start to learn about performance. They have helped me not only develop my acting skills but also have allowed me to experience so many other things happening in the building and develop who I am as a person. I know that there is always support for me and a place for me at Storyhouse which I can’t thank them for enough. I really wouldn’t have become the person I am without them. Who knew joining young company 5 years ago would open up the doors it has for me and had such a huge impact on my life.