Laurence Olivier. Dame Judi Dench. Harold Pinter. Kit Harrington. Andrew Garfield. Dominic Hughes?
He has a chance. The young actor has only just turned 20 but has already achieved big things. He’s set to start a new term at the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in October, beating thousands of applicants to land one of only 18 available places.
“I’m very excited,” Dominic tells us. “I’ve been around the school a number of times for call-backs and I fell in love with it. I got a really nice warm vibe from the place, everyone works together on all the courses and get involved. I love that about theatre; without that collaboration you wouldn’t have an industry.”
Dominic’s currently working in Starbucks, saving up for his acting odyssey in the capital. It’s a world away from what he could achieve; getting into Royal Central in itself is an incredible accomplishment, but Dominic knows how hard he’ll have to work to reach the lofty heights of the school’s star-studded alumni.
Treading the boards
We ask Dominic if he minds us writing up his story so far. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but talking to him reveals a confident young man ready to enter an industry he loves.
So, stage or screen? “Definitely stage. Theatre is where my heart is. I really like Adrian Lester, it’s his versatility that I really like. He does stage plays, musicals, television; he’s one of the best actors I’ve seen.
“The course I’m doing is a BA Hons in Musical Theatre so it’s fully-vocational professional training in musical theatre with an aim to get you out into the acting world, find you an agent and get you working.
“As much as the training is so much better at a drama school, the great thing about it – like most things in this industry – is that you’re also networking and meeting the right people. You’re getting your name out there and putting your foot in the door.”
London, though, is its own double-edged sword. Granted it puts you right in the middle of the industry, but it helps to have a Scrooge McDuck-style money bin to live comfortably. Wirral Way went to see American Idiot at the Arts Theatre last month; a Five Guys burger and chips afterward left us out of pocket to the tune of £25.
Cosmopolitan has also launched its own campaign to help young professionals combat ridiculous rental rates in big cities, especially London. Currently Dominic, through a combination of factors, has missed out on essential funding that would help him in his new life down south, and he’s set up a GoFundMe page to attract £2,000 in sponsorship funds.
“With it being in London everything’s immediately more expensive, accommodation and the cost of living. I’ve applied for art grants and educational funds and I’ve either just missed out or the timing’s been off. I placed fairly late because of the timing of the auditions and have missed out on the usual funding options.
“Everything’s just so much more expensive down there. Student funding helps but just isn’t enough. A lot of my friends and family have been donating and sharing the Go Fund Me and I’ve been overwhelmed and so grateful for the support so far.”
Wirral’s got talent
Dominic’s passion and enthusiasm for acting has given him a shot at the big-time, and it would be great for the Wirral to have another name to mention acting-wise other than Daniel Craig whenever a new Bond film comes out.
But how did he get here? “I started singing and went to dance school when I was younger and that was my pathway into amateur musicals. I did a lot of that when I was younger, locally, and have performed at the Floral Pavilion and Liverpool Empire. When I went to secondary school I followed in my two brothers’ footsteps and lost the feel for it a bit when I was there.
“I took an unintentional break from it and got my GCSEs, then halfway through sixth form I realised I didn’t want to be there and knew that I wanted to perform. I thought ‘I’ve got to go out there and do it’.
“I took a year out and did some acting, singing as well as working and took a lot of experiences from it. I applied to audition at The Hammond School in Chester to get on their acting course, got a place, got a bursary, and then it took off for me. I was where I was where I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do.”
“When I was younger I did quite a few shows with BOST, who are highly-acclaimed, and other amateur companies. Since being in Chester with The Hammond I’ve been involved in a lot over there, including a musical with Chester Operatic Society in October last year. There are so many opportunities in the North West at the moment.”
Great news for anybody looking to make it big as a professional actor, and it’s hard not to feel excited for Dominic’s future. It’s entirely in his hands, but his journey underlines that if you really want something then you stand a better chance of getting it if you put yourself out there, just like one of his main inspirations.
“Someone I look up to a lot is James Cordon, what he’s done with the background he’s had is incredible. He’s really made it in America; he’s got writing ability, he’s done musicals… The Late Late Show gig he’s got is what dreams are made of.”