Monkey Motivation: Ty Taskila

In the run-up to our tenth anniversary in Autumn 2020, we are catching up with the Fourth Monkey alumni community for an insight into where their training has taken them and into the advice they have for prospective students about to start either of our training programmes, the BA (Hons) Acting Accelerated Degree or the Year of the Monkey One Year Intensive Training Programme.

 

Here, Ty Taskila, a Year of the Monkey graduate originally from Finland and one of Fourth Monkey’s cohort of mature students, shares her memories and experiences of training with Fourth Monkey and what she has been up to since graduating, as well as her top tips for any aspiring actors in training…

 

What made you choose Fourth Monkey for your actor training? Had you completed any other training before joining the school and, if so, can you tell us a little bit about how the two compare?

I chose Fourth Monkey because I was looking for a company with good reputation that provided full-time flexible professional training which would allow me to work at the same time.

I had a career in healthcare research consultancy, but I never completely abandoned my dream to become a professional actor. I was a member of youth theatre company in my home country Finland and attended to some short courses in acting in London so I had some experience beforehand, but Fourth Monkey is my only ‘professional’ actor training. 

Can you share a few personal highlights and memories that stand out from your time training at Fourth Monkey? Were there any practitioners who have influenced your creative choices or any classes that have stuck with you since you graduated?

I really enjoyed every aspects of my training but clowning with Stephen Sobal and movement with Will Pinchin really stood out. 

(Image: Camden Fringe, Year of the Monkey performance 2018 – ‘Fatty’)

Before you started your training at Fourth Monkey, what were you most excited to try or to learn more about? Did this shift or change as your training progressed, and have these interests been reflected in the choices you’ve made in your work since you graduated?

Because I had not done much acting since I moved to UK over ten years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. For example, I had never done any classical theatre and I was nervous and excited all at the same time about how I would manage Shakespeare. The man has had such a massive impact on modern theatre all over the world, and learning Shakespeare was very challenging for me but during the process, I fall in love with his plays. He has so many strong female characters in his stories, which is the character type I enjoy playing the most. What training in Shakespeare has taught me is that in any play, it is not about the words you say but the emotion behind the words, as this is what can really move the audience.     

(Image: Camden Fringe, Year of the Monkey performance 2018 – ‘Fatty’)

Tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on since you left Fourth Monkey – what have your professional highlights been? Are there any interesting collaborators, projects or shows that you can tell us about?

The first year after graduation was really tough. I didn’t get an agent immediately after my graduation – there were some interest, but it didn’t work out. Then at last in Spring last year, I managed to get a couple of small roles; I play a Finnish Hotel Owner on the BBC TV Drama Trigonometry, which is now showing at BBC2. I’m only in two scenes but it gave me the courage and encouragement to carry on.

The theatre-specific career advisor and columnist specialising in training for The Stage, the theatre industry newspaper, John Byrne, (check out his website Performing Careers for more information) helped me to find the best way to market myself to agencies and, shortly after, I found my agent Melanie Gayle. Mel is absolutely wonderful, and she has arranged a lot of great opportunities for me so far! Unfortunately, and inevitably, the current COVID-19 pandemic has had huge impact on the number of upcoming opportunities, but Mel has arranged opportunities to get creative for her actors despite this. For example, we recently took part in the “Don’t Rush Challenge”, currently running on social media.

I have also been busy writing my one woman show, Forgiveness, which is a story of resentment and the fear of facing our inner demons, but also a story of love and the power of human consciousness to let go and live in peace in the now. If everything goes well and to plan, I will be performing Forgivenessas as part of Camden Fringe Festival in August 2020, in a run of nine performances in total.  

(Image: on set for BBC drama ‘Trigonometry’)

As your creative career progresses, what are you hoping to work on or create in the future? For example, are there any collaborators you’d particularly like to work with, any theatre or arts genres you want to experiment with or try?

At the moment, I’m really focusing on my one woman show. I’m in the process of finding a director and there are thousands of other things I need to do which I never thought of before I started this process!

In the future, I hope I will have opportunities to play interesting and emotionally “twisted” characters, who go though some big challenges in their lives which force them to change the way they are. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of human drama!

What advice would you give to any prospective students preparing for their audition or gearing up to start their actor training in September? Likewise, do you have any advice for our students who will be graduating this summer?

Firstly, I have to say (and I’m sure you have heard this before!) the entertainment industry is extremely tough – you have to have huge belief in yourself, which ultimately comes from knowing who you are.

Secondly, you have to make your own opportunities and go after the work you are interested in. Drama school can help you to find your unique voice, and a good agent can bring you opportunities, but they can’t give you career as an actor because this is ultimately your own responsibility.

Finally, don’t focus too much on your end goal or getting somewhere specific, because you can’t predict the future. Just enjoy your journey and doing what you’re doing in the present and let life take care of the rest!

Finally, a topical question – how have you been staying creative in lockdown?

I believe everything happens for reason and there is something good in everything that life brings to us: without the lockdown I would have never been able to write my solo show so quickly as I did!

I’m also being creative in my other passion – design and fashion! I have launched my printed t-shirt brand TyT Life, which sells motivational tees inspired by quotes from spiritual teachers, as spirituality has helped me to find my true self and taught me how to find peace in the now.