Gill Broderick: Following Her Dream

Gillian Broderick had enjoyed a successful career as a teacher, but in 2010 she decided to give up teaching and become an actor

Even as a child, Gillian Broderick enjoyed acting and putting on little shows for her family. In primary and secondary school she was always in the school choir and took part in the shows.

Gill enjoyed ballet, tap and athletics. For a while, the athletics took precedence over her acting – and sport is something she still enjoys; she currently coaches javelin at Kingston Athletics Club.

Gill went to University and studied to be a teacher – one of her subjects being Drama – and she embarked on her teaching career in her 20’s. Being a teacher enabled her to work around her family and for years she enjoyed a successful career – latterly at Hinchley Wood Primary School.

However, in 2010 Gill was once more bitten by the acting bug and, with the
support of her husband, Ian, and their two sons, Gill decided to follow her dream. Ian encouraged her, telling her: ‘Do what you want to do. Go for it!’ She left Hinchley Wood Primary School and embarked on her second career as an actor.

At first, Gill thought acting would be something of a hobby and that she would be doing Amateur Dramatics, so she signed up with background agencies to do support work and extra work. She thought she would be content to stick with that, but soon realised she was more ambitious.

Gill’s first audition was in 2013 – before her training – and she found out about it through a website. The role was the female lead in a music video: a woman about to leave her husband. At the end of the tape Gill had to look into the camera and she pretended the camera was a person. When she finished, everything went quiet and the Director said: ‘Wow – this is exactly what we are looking for!’ Gill was offered the role. She still remembers how exciting it was to receive her first pay cheque! For Gill, this was confirmation that she now needed to do some training.

Gill began attending acting workshops in London. One of the tutors asked her if she wanted to act professionally and she realised that yes, she really wanted to work as an actor. The tutor encouraged Gill to re-train, recommending re-training places in London. Gill followed that advice and
enrolled for formal training at the Actors Temple in Warren Street in 2015.

Since setting out on her acting career, Gill has had a variety of roles. For a while Gill had an agent, which gave her a head start as a member of ‘Spotlight UK’, where all the good jobs come from. These jobs are usually picked up by agents and Gill would have had a problem without one. She says that she has been very lucky: usually four professional credits are needed to get on ‘Spotlight’ but Gill was able to join with only two credits. She has friends who are still trying to get on ‘Spotlight’.

Gill has acted in adverts and she has found Fringe theatre to be a great source of work. She has been in four plays in the fringe theatre. She was in two Chekhov plays (’Uncle Vanya’ and ‘The Seagull’) before embarking on her training and last year (2019) she was in two modern plays, one of which was off the West End.

Short film work is another source of employment and Gill was in two awardwinning short films last year. One short horror – ‘Los Angeles’ – was given an award for Best Horror. The other short film was about a British family struggling with Brexit. The parents had voted to leave, but the film wasn’t political; it gave a different perspective on the whole issue. The film won an award at an Italian film festival.

Gill has also been in a couple of major feature films – the first, which she filmed in 2015, was ‘16/03’ – a semiautobiographical film based on the life of the director and writer, who was brought up in Iraq. The film has gone on internationally to win awards all around the world. Gill had a very good
supporting role as the judge.

She has also played Madame Webb in a ‘Spiderman’ fan film – a very interesting character to play. There are lots of fan films made throughout the world. These are Independent films and are self-funding (i.e. crowd-funding). ‘Spiderman’ creator Marvel does not mind as it is all good advertising. The film has done really well and is available on YouTube.

Gill’s ambition is to work on the West End stage. She finds Theatre very thrilling – it is an instant process and the performances are different every night – people do forget lines! Theatre work gets the butterflies going. Last year she performed in a play with Ashley Gunstock from ‘The Bill’, which
was a very positive experience for her.

People have suggested to Gill that it must have been easy to swap to acting from teaching, but Gill points out that teaching and acting are very different. A teacher needs to be in their head all the time; they must be very controlled in their thoughts and need to be careful not to show negative emotions to their pupils. An actor dips more into emotions. At first, it is very hard to let go of all that control and allow emotions free reign. Acting is all about allowing emotions to affect you and tapping into them. An actor has to be free to show anger. All their emotions need to be quickly accessible. Gillian says that acting has changed her – and Ian has pointed out that she never used to swear when she was teaching but that she has begun to swear more since she has been acting!

The ability to draw on her emotions is not the only thing that has changed since Gill sent into acting. Acting has made her braver and she is now more likely to call out bad behaviour than she was while she was teaching. She has also found that her ability to memorise lines has greatly improved. Gill used to be nervous about learning her lines, but she is now able to read and memorise them really quickly. She no longer has to worry that she won’t
remember them – she says they come back to mind if you keep doing them by rote.

Gill is currently working on the film ‘Alive’, which is being filmed in Guildford. She plays Lucy, a TV reporter surviving in an apocalyptic world. This is a really good role for a female of 50+; Lucy is a very strong female who is always protecting people. Gill actually got to hold a shotgun that had
previously been held by Brad Pitt’. She says it was very heavy!

Despite being a busy actor, Gill is still able to enjoy her sporting interests. She was previously a full Surrey County athlete and has always kept her links with athletics. Ten years ago she became an athletics coach and currently coaches javelin to 9-18s at Kingston Athletics Club as a volunteer.

Gill sometimes feels that it is a shame that she did not change careers earlier; however, she concedes that having a growing family would probably have prevented her from committing fully to her acting career.

Gill’s second career as an actress is showing signs of being even more fruitful than her first career as a teacher! She is totally inspiring!

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