My Short Story...
For everyone who doesn't know me, my name is Steve Wentworth. I live on the south coast of England in Dorset. I've been running a Facebook page since 2015 where I help people through tough times by sharing posts and videos. Some of my better known posts have been my poems, which I've written and narrated myself, including, "A Christmas Message from Heaven" and "A New Years Message to Heaven ".
Much of my time is spent creating posts to help and inspire others, as well as building websites for people and businesses all over the world. So you might be wondering why I want to go to acting school...
Since I was a child I've been involved in performing arts and acting, including school shows, ice skating and ballet. At the age of 17, I successfully auditioned for a band called 'In 2 Deep'. We recorded at Warner Chappell studios in London, appeared on TV and radio shows, featured in teen magazines, eventually starring in a stage show in Brighton.
My career in the band was going from strength to strength, but unfortunately, it all came to an abrupt halt. While performing in Brighton, a man posing as a talent agent did something to me that threw my life into turmoil. I ran as far away from Brighton, London and the entertainment industry as I possibly could.
It's taken me many years to process what happened to me, but now I've got myself back to a place where I can finally talk about it and feel comfortable in my own skin. But it would be a shame to allow what one man did to me years ago to prevent me from following my dreams.
Over the last year, I've been training online with an incredible acting teacher, but to take my actor training further, I need to attend classes in person.
The acting course, as well as travel and accommodation, will cost a total of £19,790, but I'm breaking my GoFundMe campaign into 3 stages.
- The 1st stage of my GoFundMe (which I'm currently working towards) is a target £1,400 by April 30th 2021. (This includes the first in-person course fees of £1,100 plus travel and accommodation at £300)
- The 2nd stage will be an additional target of £7,545 by June 18th 2021. (This is for half the one year course fees paid upfront)
- The 3rd stage will be an additional target of £10,845 by October 29th 2021. (This includes £7,545 for the remaining course fees, plus travel and accommodation)
I know this seems like a mountain to climb, but with your help we can make this happen. Any donation you can make will be gratefully received and every penny will make a difference.
Thank you for reading the short version of my story. If you want to know more about my story, please continue reading the full version below.
My Full Story...
From an early age I tried to find ways to express how I felt through singing and writing songs, listening to instrumental versions of Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs and writing my own lyrics. But one person inspired me more than anyone to become involved in performing arts. Her name is comedian, broadcaster and actor, Sandi Toksvig.
At age 7, my family was going through a really tough time. My parents had divorced and my mum, my sister and me moved to live with my maternal grandfather. I had moved schools, didn't have any friends, felt as though I didn't belong anywhere and to make things even more difficult, my paternal grandfather passed away suddenly. I was completely devastated.
Despite feeling as though my world was falling apart, there was one thing that could take my mind off everything and allow me to escape. It was a TV show called 'Number 73', starring Sandi Toksvig. She made me laugh so much. I would sit crossed-legged on the living room floor, howling and crying with laughter. Every Saturday morning, I would tune in to watch Sandi. I didn't miss an episode! It was the one time each week where I could take my mind off what was going on in my life and smile.
Each week, there would be a group of kids who were a central part of the show and they always looked as though they were having so much fun. I wanted to be on that TV show more than anything. Every time Number 73 was on, I would beg my mum, "Please can I be on Number 73 with Sandi Toksvig?" I was more than a little bit obsessed!
I sat down with my mum and wrote a letter to the TV studios that produced the show, asking if it would be possible for me to take part. I waited several weeks and eventually I received a reply. Much to my disappointment the letter told me that the children on the show were selected from drama schools near the studios in Kent where Number 73 was filmed and they didn't invite children like me who weren't from a drama school. My heart sank. I pleaded with my mum to send me to drama school, but being a single mother, there was no way she could afford it. There weren't any specialist drama schools locally and even if there were, it would have been far too expensive for her to afford on her own.
My mum didn't give up. She knew how passionate I was about acting so she enrolled me on to the only creative arts course in our town... ballet. Being a young boy, ballet wasn't my first choice, but as I started to learn, I found that I could express myself physically in ways that I had never experienced before.
A few years later, I started figure skating at Westover Ice Rink in Bournemouth, competing in national competitions and performing in ice-skating shows.
I continued performing in school productions, playing the part of 'Harry' in 'Dick Whittington and Wondercat', eventually landing the lead role of 'Curly' in the musical 'Oklahoma!'
Before leaving school, all students had to make an appointment with a career advisor. During my appointment, I told them that I wanted to train to become an actor but was advised that acting on stage and performing was not a serious career option and I should think about expressing my creativity through something more practical, such as photography. So I enrolled at on a BTEC photography course at the local art college, but deep down I knew that it couldn't compete with my love for being on stage.
While studying photography, I subscribed to The Stage, a weekly newspaper about performing arts. Every week, I would avidly read it from cover to cover, looking through the auditions and imagining what it would feel like to sing in a theatre production in London's West End or act in a play. After a lot of dreaming, I decided to try my luck and actually apply for something. That's when I successfully auditioned for a new pop group called 'In 2 Deep'.
Over the next couple of years, we performed on Sky TV's Children's Channel, ITV's Barrymore, radio roadshows and appeared in teen magazines including, Just 17 and Fast Forward. We recorded in professional recording studios at Warner Chappell, learning dance routines at Pineapple Studios and meeting celebrities I'd only ever seen on TV and in the movies. We didn't earn much money, but one of the radio roadshows we appeared on regularly was sponsored by Pot Noodle. At the end of each show, we could help ourselves to crates full of Pot Noodles! Over the next year, I became a (slightly undernourished) Pot Noodle connoisseur! But as much as we loved Pot Noodles, we decided that if we were ever going to eat a proper meal again, we needed to get paid a decent wage.
So, in 1994, we appeared in Aladdin at The Theatre Royal in Brighton, with Colin Baker (Doctor Who). We performed on stage two to three times a day for two months and for the first time in my life, I was earning a good wage. I could afford to eat proper meals!
The shows were exhausting, but they gave me an even deeper love of the stage and when the shows were over, each evening we would meet up with the cast from our show, as well as the cast from our competitor pantomime from the Brighton Dome. This is when we met a very special person, Bernie Nolan.
Bernie invited us to the house where she was staying and helped us with our harmonies. She had so much time and patience and I'll never forget her kindness. As a band, we learnt so much from her and when I bumped into her again several years later, I was amazed that she remembered me by name, but she was surprised (and disappointed) that I was no longer working in the entertainment industry.
What Bernie didn't know, is that during pantomime in Brighton, a man posing as a talent agent did something to me that threw my life into turmoil and made me run as far away from Brighton, London and the theatre as I could.
I won't go into the details of what he did here, but following that experience, my life took a totally different path. For many years, I suffered from depression and anxiety due to the memories of what he did to me and anger and regret at way one man had frightened me away from living my dream.
Thanks to very good counselling and working through what happened, I've got myself back to a place where I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin again. I even performed again at a local theatre in aid of BBC Children in Need. Creating my Facebook page and helping others has played a huge role in getting me to this point. So to everyone who has followed my page, you don't know how important you've been to me and what you helped to pull me through!
I am determined NOT to allow what someone else did to me to control my life anymore or prevent me from following my dream. It's taken me many years to feel strong enough to walk my path, but unfortunately, now that I'm 45, there are few options available to me as far as funding for acting school is concerned, and I don't want to let my age stand in the way either. With your help, I want to prove that we're never too old to follow our dreams.
So that is the story of why I'm here.
Over the last year, I've been studying acting online with an incredible teacher who is based in London. While learning over the internet has been great, taking my acting ability to a level where I'm confident and able to learn all aspects of stage and screen acting, I need to be there in person.
The course I would like to enrol on is a one year course that is designed to enable people like myself to continue working while studying. This means I'll still be able to run my Facebook page, build websites for people and earn enough money to live on.
The only thing holding me back from following my dream is the cost of the course.
To enrol and complete the acting course, it will cost me:
- £16,190 for course fees (£1,100 for the first part this spring and £15,090 for the one year course starting in October).
- £3,600 minimum for accommodation and travel to London.
The first part of the course starts this spring and the full one year course begins in October. I need to have raised the first £1,400 by April or May and then have raised at least half of the course fees to start the one year course by summer.
I've never done anything like a GoFundMe campaign before in my life. It's a very humbling experience to openly share my story and ask people for help, especially as I don't know how people will react to me doing this. I guess my passion for following my dreams into performing arts is greater than my fear of embarrassment!
So if you're able to help me get to acting school, I will be forever grateful to you. Whatever you can spare will make a huge difference and any money raised here will go directly to pay for tuition fees, accommodation and travel costs. I plan to keep everyone updated through my Facebook page , where I'll post videos and photos of my travels to London, my training and everything that happens afterwards.
Thank you so much for reading.
P.S. Please feel free to share my GoFundMe page on social media or with anyone who you think can help me. To share my GoFundMe page, just use the 'share' button.
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