Returning to familiar territory, we spoke to performer Aaron Hayes about what inspired his love of entertainment and what provoked a very sudden change of career direction…
It can be gut-wrenching when you have to decide whether you chose the right university course. Especially when you have had your heart set in an ambition for so long. We find out what provoked performer Aaron Hayes to switch from wanting to become an actor to pursue training as an opera singer.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN BASED IN BOURNEMOUTH OR POOLE?
I was actually born in London, in Chelsea Westminster Hospital, and we lived in Kingston until I was around a year old. But I grew up in Poole.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOUR LOVE OF PERFORMING?
When I was younger and I used to watch films and see shows, I just remember the effect they had on me. The feelings they provoked. Feeling excited or feeling moved, laughing etcetera. I remember wanting to do that myself and wanting to make people feel things through watching my performance.
YOU ORIGINALLY STUDIED AT ITALIA CONTI ACADEMY IN LONDON. WHAT PROVOKED THE SWITCH OF INTEREST FROM DRAMA TO OPERA AND CLASSICAL SINGING?
My ambition at the time was to be an actor, and I wanted to go to drama school, learn more about that craft. But it just happened, at the time when I was at Italia Conti, I wasn’t entirely happy there. That may not necessarily have been so much down to the course as where I was in myself. I just felt that I needed to change course; being at Italia Conti, I didn’t feel as though I was achieving what I wanted to in terms of becoming a better actor. Some of the enjoyment of acting was getting sucked out; I felt I was becoming a little too aware of how I was doing it, getting a little too wrapped up in that and losing my natural instinct for it.
But I had always done singing; I studied with a classical singing teacher when I was younger, and I was in a church choir. So I had some experience there. My singing teacher had mentioned about applying to music college when I was younger, but I never gave it much thought. Until I was in the situation of wanting to change course. I looked into it, and the course I found at music college seemed to be a good way of combining the acting skills I had with those in singing.
Also, opera seemed, in my opinion, to be a stronger form of acting. Because you’re not just speaking and moving but you’re also singing. It’s a more emotional way of acting.
WHAT WAS YOUR THEORETICAL UNDERSTANDING OF OPERA BEFORE YOU STARTED STUDYING IT?
I didn’t have much knowledge of opera, but I did know my way around classical music a bit. And also musical theatre and opera-style musical theatre like Les Misérables, things like that. So I had to do my research, watch a few operas. And I really got into it. My favourite is La bohème by Puccini.
WHO WOULD YOU CALL YOUR INSPIRATIONAL FIGURE?
It’s hard to name one in particular. In terms of an inspiring person who has tried to good and has done good through their art, I would say John Lennon. He was very truthful in what he used to say and used what he did as a singer to try to change the world for the better.
ARE YOU STILL ACTING OUTSIDE OF YOUR TRAINING AS A SINGER?
Yes – I’m currently doing some supporting artist work here and there. Most recently done some filming for The Crown for Netflix – unfortunately I can’t go into too much detail there. That came about via an agency; the jobs come through and they ask if you’re available. And one came through for The Crown. We were shooting in Wales for some scenes dealing with the Aberfan Disaster in 1966. Olivia Colman was there – it was great.
DO YOU INTEND TO TACKLE ANY OTHER SIDES OF SHOWBUSINESS? SUCH AS WRITING OR DIRECTING, FOR EXAMPLE?
I would love to direct actors – I feel I can understand where they’re coming from in terms of their process. Maybe produce as well? Have a vision and see it through. In terms of writing, I have tried a bit in the past. I collaborated with a friend on a sitcom script. That is something I find more challenging – I can create ideas, but I find the actual writing of scenes and dialogue quite difficult. But I would love to be able to do that.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE – FILM, TELEVISION, OR THEATRE?
As a singer, I am a baritone. But if I were a tenor, I would love to play Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A PERFORMER?
I would love to do a bit of everything, really. Work in the West End, in films and TV. Also, I wouldn’t mind doing some recording – I sing swing and some pop. So perhaps I’ll do a bit of that in future. A few gigs. To have a varied career would be the end goal.
Alice Wiffen, Entrepreneur
Achieving what we want in life – whether artistic, athletic or corporate – sometimes involves personal battles. Our latest story, regarding Alice Wiffen, founder of MuckyPups Dog Grooming, is just one example…
Unlike many of the people and stories we feature here on Humans of Bournemouth, which we seek out, this one was brought right to us on a platter. Alice Wiffen may by an entrepreneur, founder of MuckyPups Dog Grooming in Poole, but she is also one of the 14.3% of people aged between 18-26 suffering from chronic pain. Her story tells us how her health struggles led her to start her business…
CAN YOU GIVE US MORE DETAIL ABOUT THE ILLNESS YOU SUFFER FROM?
Chronic pain can differ from person to person. Some people have widespread pain, others have back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and so on. I personally suffer from Chronic Pelvic Pain. It’s considered an invisible illness, and that is the hardest thing about it. So really only those close to me would know that there was anything wrong. The reality is that I am in severe pain most days, and the days that I am not in as much pain I am simply exhausted. My symptoms include severe pelvic and bladder pain, aching in the abdomen, sharp jolts of pain with some movements, sickness, dizziness, weakness and sometimes the inability to stand – these are just a select few
HOW DID YOU COME TO START MUCKYPUPS?
I have always dreamt of owning my own business and equally I have always wanted to work with animals and in some way make a difference. This is going back two years ago, when I started MuckyPups Dog Grooming. I had just completed a degree in Animal Management and after some hard thinking, I felt determined to create something new and exciting. One morning, I woke up and knew then was the time to do it. It certainly wasn’t going to be easy, but then in life nothing that is worth having is easy. I completed my dog grooming course while working at the local pub and walking dogs to earn the money I needed to start this exciting adventure!
Before long, my amazing dad helped me to create a little grooming shed in the garden in which to start my dream. I started dog grooming straight away and I have never stopped smiling since. After freezing cold winters and boiling hot summers and hitting my head more than once on the ceiling I knew it was time to upgrade. So in October last year, I opened my new dog grooming spa in Poole. I have a wonderful client base – we’re continuously booked about two months in advance. I also get to meet a huge range of wonderful four-legged friends.
DO YOU SPECIALISE IN ANY PARTICULAR GROOMING TECHNIQUES?
I offer a variety of treatments and grooms for all breeds of dog. This including hydro bathing treatment for dogs with muscular problems or pain. I try to focus on dogs that cannot be groomed elsewhere or who have severe anxiety. Through treatments, I help change their views on grooming and people and this can give them happier, more fulfilled lives.
IF YOU HAD ANY ADVICE FOR ANY ASPIRING BUSINESSPEOPLE WITH HEALTH PROBLEMS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Carry on with life as much as you can without pushing yourself harder than you can deal with. Don’t let your diagnosis become the person you are. Find something you love doing and don’t stop doing it. I still suffer with my illness, but my determination has given me a new lease of life. Each day when I am in pain, I simply think about how lucky I am to have a job that gives me so much satisfaction – this gets me through.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Mental health is clearly a huge problem at the moment. The big thing I wish to do this year is to give seminars, not only on dog grooming but on mindfulness and how dogs can help towards mindfulness in people. I have suffered from depression, but I treated myself through interacting with dogs. Now I hope to help others do the same.
Kamil Skalczyński, Chef
Combining art and food together – that’s what chef Kamil Skalczyński did. He even put art in the name of his creation — Art Sushi…
The culinary arts are so-called for a reason! There’s a level of creativity that goes into making dishes look as good as they taste. Art Sushi, and its creator Kamil Skalczyński, know this. We met Kamil at the Art Sushi HQ to find out the whole story…
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BOURNEMOUTH? WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
I have lived in Bournemouth for two years now – almost exactly! But I originally come from Chorzów in Poland.
WHO INSPIRED YOUR LOVE OF FOOD AND COOKING?
Several authorities in the food world gave me direction in making decisions and remaining consistent in what I do. People like René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma, which has been voted the world’s best restaurant a few times. Also, Wojciech Modest Amaro, who was awarded the first Michelin Star in Poland. There are many others, but I would say the person who really gave me my taste for cooking is my father. He cooked great at home and taught me a lot. My mother always says, “You’re the same as your father!”
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE CREATING ART SUSHI?
Over the last thirteen years, I have worked and roamed around Poland collecting experience. I have always tried to work in the best places, but it’s up to me to work with the best chefs. One of the places that opened my eyes to the world of creating flavours was the Atelier Amaro restaurant in Warsaw, which has been awarded a Michelin Star.
This is where I met people with passion and respect for the product, as well as patience and humility. I learned a lot there and this experience has allowed me to go in the right direction. And that direction is Art Sushi.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DISHES TO MAKE?
It’s difficult to say one in particular. I like to experiment and combine different flavours. And break stereotypes.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE STARTING ART SUSHI?
For me, and I think a lot of people will agree, the biggest challenge is balancing everything that happens in my daily life. By this, I mean dividing my time between developing Art Sushi, but also working as a chef at the Hilton. Plus, being a good dad and a good partner. I would like to be able to buy more time!
IF YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG OR TRAINEE CHEFS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I think that everyone should try to make everything balance. Everything that’s important to you, anyway. Family, faith and humility are the most important things in my life.
WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOURSELF AND ART SUSHI?
One day, I would like to open a small sushi bar, where I will be able to serve quality food. Soon, I will be starting another project — but you will find out about all that in the near future!
Also, check out some of Kamil’s great food in the gallery below:
Scott Russell, Actor / Model
The latest local creative Humans of Bournemouth spoke to is actor and model Scott Russell. We found out about how this former electrician got his foot in the door in a far different industry…
Managing to pin down Scott Russell, actor, model, musician and Poole local, turned out to be far more difficult than we anticipated. We have been trying since August! At last, we succeeded in grabbing him between his globetrotting adventures to tell us his story.
BY TRADE AND TRAINING, YOU ARE AN ELECTRICIAN. HOW DID YOUR FIRST ACTING OR MODELLING JOB COME ABOUT?
I made some good contacts and was given an opportunity most people would probably refuse if they were already settled in a full time decent job. Alas, I am unlike that 99% of people and that day, I quit my job and took the jump. So I drove my campervan loaded with a guitar, clothes and diving gear down to the location. Then I spent the following few months dotting around big movie sets.
WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT THING YOU HAVE WORKED ON AS AN ACTOR?
I’ve been working with a brilliant producer and director on a movie based on the murder of a girl – a true story. It is really quite fascinating. The story came to the director in a series of recurring dreams in which he saw a girl being murdered. It turns out that this all happened many moons ago, and so this movie, “The Ballad of Lucy Sands” is her legacy – this is just a mere scratch on the surface as to how deep the story goes. The trailer will be released in April 2019.
WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT THING YOU HAVE WORKED ON AS A MODEL?
In modelling, I’m with a great team called Lunaesque Productions, which is based between London and Devon. The photographers produce some incredible images on some rather breathtaking sets. Recently, I have been involved in the USA NHF Male Model Collections, and I’m currently in talks with a fitness company to feature in my next magazine shoot, along with a Virtual Reality game of all things!
DID YOU EVER HAVE THE AMBITION TO ENTER EITHER OF THESE INDUSTRIES?
I think, as a kid, yes. Didn’t really ever consider it properly, but I’ve always been drawn to acting and modelling nonetheless.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR PHILOSOPHY YOU LIVE BY?
Actually, I have two! The first is: “Look around – you’ll find the ground is not so far from where you are.” And the second: “Find balance, not symmetry.”
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO ANYONE WANTING TO BECOME AN ACTOR OR A MODEL?
Start small. This game is all about networking. It’s amazing who you can meet on a movie set; it’s like climbing a ladder, or at least that’s how it works for me, anyway.
WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU?
I’m already living the dream!
To see more from Scott, why not follow him on Instagram?