Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed actor Waseem Mirza about highlights from his acting career and what inspires him. Waseem can currently be seen hosting “The FutureTECH Show” wherever you get your podcasts, and a video version: “FutureTECH” on Twitch TV, YouTube, and coming soon to Amazon Prime Video.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m from Peterborough in Cambridgeshire where I was born and brought up. 3 months premature aswell. I’ve been proving everyone wrong. From my early survival on a maternity ward, to my career now! Even when told I can’t do something, I’m always looking for a way to prove someone wrong!
I’m a former BBC TV Journalist turned-tech geek, turned-Presenter, turned-Screen & Voice Actor… and now doing almost of all these at the same time somehow! So, I guess it’s easier to be described as a storyteller?! I’m also pretty mad about gadgets and new-tech and have just gone live with my own show, on Video On Demand and audio podcast – “The FutureTECH Show” (More on that later!)
When did you first realise you wanted to be an actor?
I think it was probably at the age of five when (as family legend and photo’s show) I was fixated by holding microphones (whether toy or otherwise!) and pretending I was on TV!
I went on to do school plays with great enthusiasm – never really grasping that it was something I could aspire to professionally. I grew up wanting to go to space and become a scientist. In fact I still do and it looks like it might just be possible in my lifetime at an affordable cost eventually.
By the time I left college I knew I wanted to do something creative and yet still keep my passion for science and technology. In the end it was work experience on a newspaper that convinced me to train to become a Broadcast Journalist. It was whilst at university that I landed my first acting gig but I still didn’t believe I could sustain it, so I carried on with my studies and then joined the BBC as a trainee Journalist.
I then became a Presenter on the BBC One 8pm News Summary after Eastenders, presenting to a younger news audience, underserved at that time, in the East of England and Home Counties. It was after this and just before the pandemic that I decided I wanted to go for acting professionally and turn my Presenting work freelance, giving me the time and space to train.
What is your favourite thing about performing?
The buzz of live performance or being on-set when a Director calls action, is incomparable. Anything can go wrong (and it often does in the case of live television, streaming or radio!). Once you’ve accepted that, you can become addicted to this adrenaline rush. Now I channel this feeling of a live performance even when preparing to film a scene for a drama for example. There’s something about that rush and I think I thrive on it!
What classes or training sessions have you taken to support your acting career?
Aside from Presenter and voice training at the BBC, I’ve been fortunate to have spent 3 years with The Unseen Drama School held at Spotlight at the weekends in London and Online in the Evenings during the week .. since 2019. I then joined Anarchy Actors Studio in Shoreditch during the first wave of the pandemic, which was more screen acting based, until finally settling in for regular drop-in Screen Acting workshops at the TakeOne Stage & Screen Academy, held at The Audition House near Fitzrovia. All of these have been supplemented with online workshops throughout the pandemic.
My favourite was with the Casting Director Shakyra Dowling on how to book the Day Player role for television. In no time, I was booked on my biggest role to date. I’m convinced that it’s all about confidence. Whether Presenting, Acting, reporting the news, if you don’t show inner confidence – then you can’t get there – whatever the story your trying to tell. I think my journalism storytelling instincts have certainly helped my acting.
What was your first professional acting job?
The daytime BBC drama “Doctors”, playing the double of a lead who couldn’t film that day. It was whilst at university that I landed my first acting gig but I still didn’t believe I could sustain it, so I carried on with my journalism studies and then joined the BBC as a trainee Journalist .. before doing a 360 and returning to acting by formally starting training in 2019.
What was your most recent professional acting job?
Playing a TV Reporter in the Warner Bros/DC Comics/HBO series: “Pennyworth” (season 3 due to air and stream sometime this year according to HBO. You can stream Season 1 & 2 now on most major platforms and TV services).
Tell me a favourite experience in your career. Something that stands out in your memories and makes you want to find more experiences like it.
In Acting: Pennyworth as it’s been my biggest job (and biggest high-end television drama production) that I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on. For the audition tape I went all-out and got my “Correspondent” long coat from my BBC News days and with a reporter’s microphone in hand ready to give the performance my all.
I’ve always been a big fan of DC Comics and the Batman franchise and love the dark and dystopian setting of Pennyworth in 1960’s (and in my season, 1970’s) London. It was also my first time playing a ‘period’ role. Plenty of firsts, and the adrenaline on-set at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studio’s and Director Jill Robertson, and AD Tom Beacham and the entire crew and my fellow cast were all just amazing!
In Presenting: hosting my own podcast and web-series about one of my favourite subjects – Technology and gadgets! The first episode has just dropped in 4K video at http://www.twitch.tv/futuretech and also on Youtube via http://www.futuretechshow.co.uk and on all major audio podcast networks including Amazon, Apple, Google and Spotify. Next for distribution? Amazon Prime Video! Always think big .. and big things CAN and DO happen!
What was your toughest experience in your acting career?
Learning to deal with rejection after being in relatively stable work in Broadcasting.
Have you family and friends been supportive of your acting career?
Some have been more supportive than others but I think many just fear a big change like this… they were more worried than me! I’ve realised that life is all about taking risks and chances. That’s a story I hope to tell one day as an actor.
Tell me some career goals. What would you like to achieve?
I would love to do more character voice over work – that’s something I yearn to do. And also video game acting! I was lucky enough to be involved with a project for SIDE UK part of SIDE Global/PTW. It was such a great experience with a great producer. Would love to do more of that too when I can find the time!
Tell me something you were surprised by, something you had never realised about being a professional actor.
I was blown away by the similarities of a professional actor and a television journalist. As I was used to filming and directing a lot of my own short films for BBC News as well as stepping in front of the camera, I’ve been able to port across many transferable skills.
I was surprised by how an actor can convey truth so vividly on-screen – the essential job of a tv journalist too. I’m convinced the two worlds as different as they may sound, have helped me enormously in my acting journey and I’m sure they will continue to do so!
What are words of advice you have for other aspiring actors?
Never give up on opportunities and keep going! You never know when your break will come!
Give me your social links so people can come and find you!
Represented by: Allied Artists Management (Acting)
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