Vaneeka Dadhria graduated from St Mary’s in 2019. We spoke to her during rehearsals for her first professional job, at London's Playhouse Theatre’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac starring James McAvoy, the following November. Vaneeka spoke about her career, her time at St Mary's and tips for new actors.
Why did you choose St Mary’s?
I chose St Mary’s because it wasn’t classed as just a University and it wasn't classed as just a Drama School. It had a great balance of drama school training with the environment of a University – the whole balance is brilliant. The diversity of students was another reason I picked St Mary’s.
What was your time at St Mary’s like?
Living in halls was amazing – there was so much support. I was Cronin Hall and I had a brilliant time. My room was the hub with the parties, every Monday night was Movie Night around mine; the whole environment was cool.
Acting isn’t a nine-to-five thing. The amount of work you put into the rehearsal room, you have to put outside of the rehearsal room too. It’s not really an individual thing either, it’s about teamwork and at St Mary’s I was around my other classmates a lot. We worked together all the time, and we ended up with really great relationships because of that.
What have you been up to since you graduated?
I graduated in July 2019 and this is my first professional job. I got scouted by my agent after my final performance at University – at the Soho Theatre which hosted our final shows.
The agent got in contact with Dan, the director of the Acting programme at St Mary’s. Actually, there were three different agents who got in contact with me, and I chose my agent because I knew where I wanted to head, and he spoke about diversity in theatre, which is really important to me.
I didn’t think I was going to get this role – but I went for it thinking you've just got to take chances. When I got the call I was at the petrol station, I was walking back to the car and I was stumbling because my knees went weak. It was crazy to find out from my agent that I’d got my West End debut.
St Mary’s really helped me grow in confidence. I’ve seen it, and I’ve been told by my parents, from when I started University to where I ended and until now, my confidence has grown – within myself, as an actor, as a person, as a young Asian female in the industry. The support around me, and the support back at St Mary’s, is a very big influence on that.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to begin a career in the creative industries?
The main advice I’d give someone is to keep pushing. Keep pushing because in this type of work there are so many people that have the same dream. I’m from a normal background and to be where I am right now, basically shows that anyone can do it. The team here (production of Cyrano de Bergerac) have been so helpful in giving me feedback and support.
Don’t rely on anyone else – go out there, use social media to your advantage to put your talent out there.