Danielle Jam from Aberdeen was drawn to Queen Margaret University’s (QMU) Acting for Stage and Screen course due to its capacity to make students ‘industry ready’. Danielle certainly was equipped to hit the ground running when she graduated in 2018, having secured a starring role in a brand new CBeebies drama shortly after handing in her last piece of written coursework!
Here Danielle explains what QMU and the BA (Hons) Acting for Stage and Screen programme had to offer her, how she made the most of her time as student, and her top tips for anyone considering studying at QMU.
Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?
What stood out to me was the focus on making their students industry ready. I think it can be a daunting idea of stepping out into the world when you’ve been in education all your life so I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
What did you enjoy most about your course? What were the highlights of your course?
Highlights include our final production of ‘Government Inspector’ directed by our lecturer Robin Wilson. It was so much fun working on a farcical play and embracing the ridiculous, over the top characters. I’ve also made some friends for life there. As part of the University but not my specific course, we could audition for an end of year Shakespeare production directed by drama lecturer, Kate Nelson. I played Rosalind in ‘As You Like It’ in one of the secret gardens off the Royal Mile. That was a dream come true, as she’s my favourite female Shakespeare character. It was also the most work I’ve ever put into a role.
What did you learn, or which particular aspect of the course was the most interesting?
The screen element of the course was brilliant, going from having no experience on-screen to learning all the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of filming to then create your own mini short film in fourth year was an exciting journey.
I also loved the Interpreting Text module because we got really stuck into heightened text, which was all new for me.
How did your lecturers support your learning?
Our lecturers really pushed us to aim high. In some classes we would focus on a single phrase or word and repeat them over and over again, one by one, until we got the truth of it. They were persistent, and it was so worth it. It trained us to have the self-discipline you need as a freelance artist.
What were some of your challenges with the course and university life? How did you overcome them?
The fringe festival modules were tough as there were a lot of new business topics and terms I had to learn but luckily we were all on the same level of experience so we helped each other as we went along.
I also found it daunting being away from home in a completely new city for the first time, but I made very close friends and felt like I had a place and family in Edinburgh too.
Life after graduation – what have you been doing?
Since graduating I’ve worked to achieve my first television credit and first theatre credit. I filmed a new CBeebies show called ‘Molly and Mack’ over summer; performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time and acted in ‘It Wisnae Me’ with a Play, a Pie and a Pint at Oran Mor and Traverse Theatre.
Now I am on the Dundee Rep Graduate Scheme working on its Christmas musical.
Any advice for students who might be interested in this course or in studying at QMU?
Go to an open day at the University. Ask as many questions as you possibly can. Think about what you want to achieve in the course and in life, and see if QMU matches up with your goals.
Be honest about what you want. It’s going to be 1 - 4 years of your life and it should be what you truly want to do, not just what you think you should do. Don’t take the decision lightly.
"What stood out to me was the focus on making their students industry ready. I think it can be a daunting idea of stepping out into the world when you’ve been in education all your life so I wanted to be as prepared as possible."
[Story published 2018]