As an actor, I don't want to see Joe Sugg in Waitress

Imagine training hard all your life for one goal, and then somebody else who has never trained in the same profession makes it to the top in an instant – all because they’ve made a name for themselves elsewhere.

Well, that’s no strange occurrence in the world of performing arts. Recently, as I’m sure you’re aware by now, the YouTube sensation Joe Sugg was just cast as a lead role in the West End hit musical, Waitress.

When I first found out that this was true, part of me was very angry. Now, I am not slamming Joe in any way, as I am very aware of the fact that he has done so well for himself in the profession of vlogging and social media. He’s made a name for himself – which is great!

However, unlike the millions of unemployed performers across the world who have trained their whole life to get on stage, Joe has never trained for this job. Many of those performers, including myself, could only dream of being cast as a lead in such a well-known musical as our first on-stage role.

But the sad truth is, that opportunity won’t come about so easily, as increasingly roles are being given to TV or online personalities with no experience whatsoever.

I’ve been training in musical theatre for almost 13 years now. I have just made the move to NYC to study performing arts at the American Musical Theatre Academy, and I, like millions of others, hope to one day grace the stage on the West End or Broadway.

But with the industry changing each day, will I ever get that opportunity? Just to put things into perspective, out of two million arts graduates who were surveyed in 2014, only 10 per cent were working artists.

The performing industry is slowly changing into a more commercialised industry. Instead of finding new talent and giving more opportunities to those who work for it, roles are now given out to big names, in order to boost the profile of the show or movie being made, and ultimately sell more tickets.

Even in musical film adaptations, casts are often made up of big name stars without theatrical experience, like in the upcoming adaptation of Cats, where every role is a big celebrity except one: ballerina Francesca Hayward.

As excited as I am to see Taylor Swift prance around the screen, I would much rather see someone else make a name for themselves, over someone who’s already made it.

Perhaps this is what must be done in order for musicals to make money in 2019. But I find it sad that a generation of people would rather see someone in a musical who is an untrained TV or social media star, rather than discover fresh new talent. Unfortunately, that’s the way the cookie is crumbling… or should I say pie, for the sake of Joe Sugg in Waitress.

If we stopped casting celebrities and reality stars who already have a name for themselves, maybe the percentage of trained performers who actually manage to make a career for themselves in the arts would increase just a little.

At least it would mean more fresh faces would grace our stages – which could only be a good thing.

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