Meet Tom Richards, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) graduate, University of Melbourne

Tom Richards. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Tom Richards. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

Tom Richards auditioned three times before getting into the VCA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) – so has it been worth it?

As told to Kelly Southworth.

I grew up in Tasmania and I flew over to Melbourne for my first audition for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) at the end of Year 12, but didn’t get in. So I studied a different course at another university, and then I auditioned again at the end of that year – and still didn’t get in. So I took some time off, worked in pubs and bars, travelled … then I auditioned again at the age of 23, and I finally got in! I really wanted to study at the VCA because I knew it had excellent facilities and industry connections, as it’s right in the heart of the Arts Precinct in Melbourne. I couldn’t think of a better place to study.

I get to the campus early every day to warm up before my morning classes. Usually it starts with a voice or body skills class. After a short lunch break I spend most afternoons working on a text or devising a new work for performance.

People inspire me. People who lay themselves on the line for their work. People who have a genuine crack at greatness in their field.

Being a performer means constantly putting yourself out there. You have to expose a bit of yourself and be really brave in front of many people, which can be really psychologically and physically challenging. It’s scary to open yourself up, to show all the bad, and all the good, and let others see you as another human.

A real highlight in my time at the VCA was the second year production performance of The Boys. I was lucky enough to be cast in the role I wanted, and I put more hard work into that performance than I think I had put into anything in my life. The satisfaction of putting everything you have into a project is probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.

Tom Richards. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Tom Richards. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

I really love the constant stimulation in my classes and around the campus. There’s always some new idea coming in, or some new challenge to tackle.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) gave me confidence in my own ability to create work from scratch, and I’ve developed skills to turn to when I’m struggling with my work. But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that everyone is interesting in their own way – that all actions are interesting. When we’re curious about the world around us our experience changes dramatically and ultimately becomes a lot more enjoyable.

I have three pieces of advice for future acting students: Be early. Be prepared. Be yourself.

I find riding my motorcycle to be the perfect way to relax outside of study. I also love learning about history and I’ve recently become very interested in bird watching. Birds are great.

I have a few goals for the next few years: Make my bed every day. Get a few new projects off the ground. Maybe global domination.

Live auditions for the 2019 BFA (Acting) and BFA (Theatre) courses at the University of Melbourne are being held throughout Australia in November 2018. More details.