Office life was never on the cards for this talented drama student

Izzie is pictured top left with Mia Thomas during a Friday Lunch Live performance earlier this year.

Kia ora! I’m Izzie Newton-Cross, and as of last week I got accepted into Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School’s Acting Course which has been an absolute dream come true.

I initially applied because I wanted to get into Toi Whakaari’s Costuming Course, but decided to also apply for acting even though I had absolutely no chance in getting in since it is the most competitive drama school to get into in the whole country. Each year they get around 250 applications, (every applicant gets to audition), then 40 to 60 people get into the next round for Applicants Weekend, and from that, around only 20 get in! Added onto that is the fact that they very rarely take in people who have just left high school and often applicants have to audition year after year before they get in! So all of the odds really seemed stacked against me, but in the end I really think that that was what gave me an edge. The fact I knew I wasn’t going to get in meant that I didn’t take it too seriously and was just able to have fun! I auditioned with a different mindset than all the other applicants. Instead of worrying about how I was being perceived or stressing over getting my lines right, I instead thought “what can I learn from this experience”. This is now how I plan to tackle all my challenges in the future. It freed up my mind and my soul and took away all the nerves because I wasn’t focusing on the outcome and instead just living in the moment.

The fact that I approached this audition process rather nonchalantly meant that I was absolutely gob-smacked when I got the email saying that I had gotten in. I was reading it, waiting for the line that’d let me down gently, waiting for them to say “we really liked you but…..”, and it never came. Instead they offered me a place and I called my parents, absolutely shaking, to tell them the good news. I thought that I would be shouting it from the rooftops when I found out, but instead it was like an inner peace washed over me and all the stress of figuring out what I’m going to do next year fell off my shoulders.

The audition process was so much more different than any other audition I have been to, and that was because for some reason – even though I have never actually stepped foot in the school or met any of the tutors in person because the auditions were on zoom – I felt at home. I felt such a deep connection to the school and the people there that I just knew I belonged. The realisation that I have gotten into this amazing place has still not settled and I think I will only feel it once I step foot into the school for the first time next year.

Even though Toi Whakaari doesn’t have any halls connected to the school and most of their students live in flats, I’m going to be living at Helen Lowry which is a hall connected to Victoria University. I got into this hall when I thought that I was going to be studying at Vic, but am still able to live there even though I am going to Toi. It is a really cute place in Karori, it’s got a veggie garden, a gym, music room, game room, and it’s catered. I can’t wait to live there and start my life journey.

The things I am looking forward to most are meeting everyone in my class, the full-time intense training, and finally being able to pursue my dream. When I was in intermediate school we went on a trip to an insurance firm to have a look at different careers we could pursue, and a few of the workers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Naturally I told them that I wanted to be an actress, and these fully grown adults laughed at me. Laughed at this innocent 12-year-old girl, and told me that I would not end up being an actress and that I will in fact end up working in an office like theirs. I don’t know what their goal was in telling me this, but there was one thing that they did give me, and that was ambition. Ambition to prove them wrong and show that that 12-year-old-girl wasn’t just being a naive idiot kid with false hope, but a strong young woman with dreams that she’ll never let die. So while I’m off to go study at the most prestigious acting school in the country, the place where Cliff Curtis learnt his craft, I hope they’re all doing well in whatever they’re doing!

My long term goal after I graduate from Toi Whakaari is obviously to become a professional actress. I know it will be tough, it’s an industry of luck and connections and it takes a lot of guts to survive in a place like that, but I know I can do it. I don’t care whether I’m as famous as Merryl Streep or Jim down the road, I just want to continue pursuing the thing that I love. I am so grateful to get into this school and I am excited because this is only just the beginning!

One last note to leave this on is the fact that I would never have gotten this amazing opportunity without the support of those around me. The undying support from my drama teacher, Mrs Cannan, will never be forgotten as that is the main reason why I had such confidence to do this in the first place. Thank you to my parents for being there, and also to my dear friend Sarah Penny for hyping me up before that initial audition over Facetime and for supporting me all the way through. You’re no one without your friends and because of you, I might just be somebody.

Nga mihi,
Izzie Newton-Cross