Thespian parents are my secret work weapon

Thespian parents are my secret work weapon

Bartle Bogle Hegarty London's chief executive believes growing up in the company of actors taught him much about creative people.

Something that people do not tend to know about me is that I am the son of two actors. This meant that most of my early years were spent in the company of fascinating creative people.

My mum was RADA-trained and in between West-End productions and TV shows such as I Claudius, she paid the school fees by doing ads. She was the first ever Playtex "Cross Your Heart Bra" girl.

My dad was a successful soap star. He did the first ten years of Crossroads. My godfather is Ian "Don't tell him your name Pike" Lavender, and my dad's two best mates are Steve Yardley and Jan Harvey of Howard's Way fame.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because my early exposure to this cast of larger-than-life characters has been a gift to me throughout my career. I didn't know it at the time, but these wonderful storytellers and performers taught me a great deal.

I received an education in how to move an audience. The conversations around our dinner table were always about actors, directors, movies and plays. We talked about the great people my parents had worked with, and about what made them so great. Most of all, we talked about how you make an audience feel something.

I developed an understanding and affection for creative people. Creative people are special. They are capable of moments of breathtaking brilliance and paralysing insecurity. I've always tried to make the creative people I work with feel more confident, and make them feel protected and empowered. I haven't always succeeded, but that's always been my intent.

I learned resilience and the importance of delivering a quality performance every single day. An actor’s life is tough. Most actors deal with almost relentless rejection, yet they dust themselves down and go again. They learn not to dwell on failure, and they know that they've got to deliver every performance to a certain standard. My parents would say to me that the audience is there for one night only, and that they deserve your very best.

That thought has always stayed with me, and I've tried to live by it. I guess it's not a secret any more!

Ben Fennell is chief executive of Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

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