Name: Nadia Latif
Job Title: Theatre and Film Director
Time in current role: Nearly 10 years
How did you land your current job?
Being a theatre director was the only thing I ever really wanted to do from a suspiciously young age. I was lucky enough to watch a huge amount of theatre as a child, but I never wanted to be an actor. I think I saw actors as lacking agency and power – the real power is in deciding what stories are told and how. I did a bit of drama at school, but none at university (UCL) where I read English because I wanted to have the full experience of my degree – meaning I was too busy drinking, talking obnoxiously about books and kissing boys. Plus I thought university drama was a bit cliquey.
I applied to one drama school at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in my final year because it had the specific practitioners I wanted to learn from. They only took two students a year to train as theatre directors and by whatever miracle, given that I had never really directed a play before, I got a place. The rest, as they say, is history.
What are the key functions of your role?
As a director I really only work in new writing because I enjoy the director/writer relationship. At any one time I can be nurturing half a dozen new projects with multiple writers and at the moment I have four new plays, three short films and one feature film idea on the boil with four different writers. Sometimes it can be a lot of plates to keep spinning once.
Talk us through your typical day at work
There’s no such thing as a typical working day for me! If I’m in rehearsals I’m very monastic – up with the sun, exercise, a very strict diet, no alcohol, nine hours of rehearsals and in bed very early. It’s not much fun for the people around me but I need that level of focus when I’m creating.
If I’m not in rehearsals, a day can be whatever I want it to be. I’ve got a desk in a shared office ten minutes from my flat (working at home always made me miserable), so if I’m doing admin or writing an article I may go and hide out there for a few hours. I’ve normally got about a dozen meetings or so a week with writers and producers etc.. I also incorporate reading time into each day for at least a couple of hours. Often my evenings will involve going to the theatre or cinema which is sorta still a work thing for me, but a perk of the job.
Your favourite part of the job?
I really enjoy casting because the possibilities feel endless and your imagination is firing like crazy. But more than anything I love technical rehearsals, which is a bit weird. But I love that moment when you see everything come together as you imagined it in your head. Those days in the dark with endless Percy Pigs are pretty special.
…and the part you could do without?
All the invoicing! I spend far too many hours chasing getting paid.
How would your colleagues describe you in three words?
Zen. As. Fuck.
Plans for the future?
I’ve recently moved into working in film, so I’m slightly recalibrating my brain over the coming months. I finally feel like between journalism, film and theatre I’ve got all the things I need to keep my brain truly busy.
Do you have any advice for others aspiring to break into your field?
Sod what you think your career should look like and do what makes you happy. Honestly, it sounds like a cop out, but a strong sense of self, self-love, and self-awareness will get you through the unemployed months, the frustrating processes and whatever difficulties you encounter. When I moved from doing what I thought other people wanted to what I actually wanted to do it was like I suddenly saw the world clearly for the first time. I never looked back. LLY