Let’s apply some context; I saw Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash in January 2015. It was the start of a new year, and my final year at college. At this time, everyone was beginning UCAS applications and getting ready for exam preparation. I wanted to be an actress and had no intention of going to university, but also no idea how else to go about it.

I had a rubbish job in retail in the city centre and felt completely uninspired and unmotivated.

Until I saw this film.

I felt such a deep connection with Andrew (Miles Teller). He knew exactly what he wanted to become, he went to the best school for it, and worked as hard as he possibly could. Nothing matters to him but his goal, he sacrifices everything and puts every moment into his practice. His social life suffers, his family relationships and even his physical and mental health. But for some strange reason, watching his journey, I wanted the exact same thing. Very much reminiscent of Aronofsky’s Black Swan, he lost himself in this ambition.

His determination and passion to achieve something in a creative industry sparked something for my own. I thought about what was in my way, and I suddenly wanted to rid myself of it all and do exactly as he did. Starting with my job.

Walking back into town with Jenny we stumbled upon a huge crowd surrounding a busker in the street. The busker was a drummer. Of course, I was all like damn what a crazy coincidence and pulled out my phone to put it on Snapchat (he was really talented). As I did so, my phone stopped filming due to my receiving a phone call from my boss, probably to call me in for a last-minute shift. I turned to my friend Jenny, who I saw the film with, and just became hysterical. I made this crazy connection that the busker was a representation of Whiplash, which was a representation of the ambition that I sought (music school for Andrew became drama school for me), and my boss calling me, blocking my documenting of it, was a direct obstacle in what I really wanted. I realize I sound just a tad bit crazy.

I told Jenny I’d text her later, walked straight into the shop and quit my job.

That night I applied for five drama schools around the country.

I know some may argue the film can be violent and slightly toxic, that what our lead endures is not something to aspire to. I mean, I don’t exactly want to work so hard that my hands bleed and I seclude myself in an isolated room to practice for hours on end. And I don’t quite want that J.K Simmons to throw a chair at me whenever I get something wrong.

But Whiplash is a story that has stuck with me, and is a constant source of motivation whenever I think, for just a second, about giving up and getting a ‘real job’.

by Millicent Thomas


Millicent Thomas is a 20 year old actress from Manchester. Her favourite films include Whiplash, Her, Logan and Short Term 12. She likes anything superhero-related and has a soft spot for trashy horror. You can follow her on Instagram at @millicentathomas and twitter at @_MillicentAnn

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