AJ And Curtis Pritchards’ Hollyoaks Debut Isn’t Funny For Young Actors

Why work hard for a career you love, when you can just jet off to Majorca and then be offered a role on a UK soap?

curtis aj pritchard

by Anonymous |
Published on

Over the past week, my Twitter feed has been inundated with__ videos of AJ and Curtis Pritchard ‘acting’ on Hollyoaks. I’ve seen their acting described as ‘cursed’, likened to ‘barely a C at GCSE drama’, and some have even compared it to those drama groups, who visit schools to warn about the dangers of drugs. (There have also been many laughs that their plotline included stealing a book of dance contacts from Trish, aka Denise Welch.)

Yes, if I’m being honest, the acting is laughable - just how can two brothers fail to have on-screen chemistry? - but this particular joke is not funny to graduates who are pained to watch another example of favouritism, cronyism, nepotism, or whatever you want to call it, in the industry.

Training, auditioning and working dead-end jobs to make ends meet is a routine in which emerging actors know all too well. The hustle is real, and what makes aspiring performers' blood boil is the sheer favouritism that rules the industry. In fact, it’s so real I’m choosing to stay anonymous - because speaking out about things like this really does impact your chance at getting roles in the future. Especially as a woman.

To be clear, I have no problem with people using reality TV to accelerate a career in which they’ve trained or shown interest in. However, Curtis was agonising to watch. Not only because his performance was so bad, but the pain of knowing that anyone else landing a part on a successful soap takes training, previous credits, a load of castings and auditions before you are even considered for a role. In this day and age, it is probably easier to jet off to Majorca and go on Love Island than to be in with a chance of securing acting jobs.

Another recent toe-curling moment for the reality-star/actor was his attempt at comedy on Stand Up And Deliver, where much of his set was derogatory towards women and his time on Love Island. He even referred to the girls on the show as ‘dogs’. It really begged the question why TV insiders are still giving this man a platform. The irony is that he made a joke of his time on Love Island, but without it, he wouldn’t be on Hollyoaks. Let’s face it: he didn’t get on with talent.

As a actor trying to catch a break, it pains me knowing these extensive processes and seeing Curtis, with no prior actor training or experience, get a plum role on the Channel 4 soap. I have friends who are now on soaps, who have worked for years to get there. Soap acting is sometimes looked down on by snobs, but truthfully the UK soaps really do have some incredible actors. It's also frustrating to see this questionable acting on the show, as Hollyoaks have recently done some amazing work, including Kéllé Bryan's racism and unconscious bias storyline.

Programmes like Hollyoaks are really important for giving young actors screen time and experience - giving them an opportunity to climb the ladder. This new casting reveals that producers care more about increasing audience numbers than real talent, which is such a shame when there are so many emerging UK actors itching at the chance to be given the platform to start their career. Shows become cheapened when actors - who can't act - are cast on a ‘who you know’ rather than a ‘what you know' basis.

In addition to knowing the right people, it takes an awful lot of money to kickstart a career on the screen. Money for training, showreels, headshots and living or commuting into London for auditions breaks the bank. So it really is heartwarming when you see actors who land great jobs knowing their hard work pays off. It's inspiring, and motivates many of us to keep trying to follow our dreams.

Don't get me wrong, reality TV can be a great way to springboard yourself into success in your craft. I mean, look at Amber Davies, who won Love Island in 2017. Amber has just recently been confirmed to star in Almost Never on CBBC and will be joining a musical version of Bring It On, a real example of how reality TV can upscale an already trained performer’s career. And, in 2018, Samira Mighty actually left her role in Dreamgirls on the West End to go on Love Island. After many conversations with my female actor friends trying to get work, many would consider going on a reality show to try and kickstart their career.

Made in Chelsea, TOWIE and Love Island dominate our screens. They're not going anywhere soon, and, being honest, these shows are my guilty pleasure. And while these programmes might be scripted to an extent, I think that audiences tend to forget that reality TV is a totally different genre and dynamic to actual ACTING. My annoyance isn’t that reality stars are making careers for themselves - good for them, we are all hustling! - but it’s the fact some of these stars are thrust into jobs or roles that they would never have previously been considered for unless it was for their new found fame and name. When young actors look on after countless rejections to see the part they went for has been snatched up by someone who ‘wants to be the kind of guy that makes everyone coffee in the morning’, it’s enough to make you want to give up.

So yes, the memes and jokes about the Pritchard brothers latest TV stint are amusing, but when you look a bit deeper at the opportunities emerging actors - from all backgrounds, who aren’t famous - are missing out on, it really isn’t that funny anymore.

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