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Leah O'Connell

Leah O'Connell  Wigs, Hair and Makeup apprentice, (2016-2018) shares her experiences of her apprenticeship. 

Leah O'Connell

What were you doing before you were an apprentice? 

Before I started my apprenticeship I was completing my A-Levels at The Norwood school. I was studying fashion and textiles and health and social care. 

What was the interview process like?

The interview process was very challenging. I had spoken to people who was also going for the job, some of them had experience and I was constantly thinking “I will never get this job, I’m not as skilled as these people!”. Nevertheless I kept a strong mind and went through each round with confidence as it was an opportunity that has now opened many doors for me.

What is the best thing about being an apprentice with the National Theatre?

Being an apprentice at the National Theatre is such a thrilling and creative experience. I’ve worked with so many different people in different departments. Working in the Wigs, Hair and Make-Up department I have been taught things that colleges no longer teach but also things that colleges are teaching to date as the department is so diverse. So many different techniques are in the room, which is great. The best thing about being an apprentice at the NT is how supported I have been, people who I work with know my strengths and my weaknesses and I have been helped relentlessly by my colleagues. 


What’s your favourite project/thing you’ve worked on and why?

There are many things I have enjoyed working on, Common was great as it was my first time applying prosthetics, Barbershop Chronicles was my first show working with facial hair also a show I done on my own! But my most recent project, Absolute Hell has been my favourite. This is because it was a challenging show for me. Its wig heavy show and that was something I had wanted to do for a while. During the show I also apply a bald cap in under 10 minutes another thing I hadn’t done which I am now really good at and super-fast!!

What is the best advice you can give to anyone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship?

Go for it. If it crosses your mind go for it. Give it 100% even if it feels like it isn’t going to work or you won’t get the placement, keep going. Persistence pays off.