“Business first, Friendship Later.”- Brit Actress Michelle Collins to the IOS Women

“That’s where women go wrong. We worry about those other relationships in work situations.”-  Esteemed British Actress Michelle Collins

Last week while in London, I had the pleasure of meeting the UK’s much celebrated actress Michelle Collins as she was filming in an East London school supporting young women.

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Michelle is best known for her role as the villainous Cindy Beale in the hit soap “East Enders“. Today she hangs her hat in London but does much traveling back and forth to Manchester where she has a starring role as Stella Price in the ever popular Brit sitcom “Coronation Street” juggling an acting career while raising her sixteen year old daughter as a single mum.

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I asked Michelle to share with us some of the challenges she faced while starting an acting career at such a young age. Interestingly, she faced many of the same obstacles that we do while working in firms or even as entrepreneurs. Michelle also addressed a topic that I often stress during my seminars and events:

While friendship and business can co-exist, at the end of the day you are not there to make friends. You have enough friends.

In Our Shoes:  Michelle, do women sabotage themselves by trying to make friends at work?

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In Our Shoes: Michelle, what kind of childhood did you have?

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Michelle Collins: I was born into a working class single parent family. Growing up in the 70’s, my mother raised my sister and I on her own. Now it’s quite common to be a single mum, but back then it wasn’t so easy. My mum instilled in me that education was the most important thing. When I was 13 years old, I watched her go back to university which was also not the norm for a woman at that time. I didn’t realize it then, but I was receiving an empowering education from watching her. Today I recognize what the feminist movement really was all about. The work ethic I have grown was due to my mum as my role model. I always worked hard, never relied on a man and carried on well when I also found myself in the single mum shoes raising my daughter on my own. Without having a man around, her determination made me very confident growing up.

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In Our Shoes: What is your view of young women today just starting out in their careers?

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Michelle Collins: Women today seem to have gone the other way. The way they look is more important than intellect. It is important to instill in young people, that education comes first. Beauty and brains is even better. If you are an educated woman, the sky’s the limit. My 16-year-old daughter wants to go to university. I have done my job well.

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In Our Shoes:  Share with us some of the obstacles you faced in your acting career.

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Michelle Collins: Starting out I was turned down by 12 different drama schools! I was seventeen years old at the time but I still carried on with a positive attitude after each rejection! I came from a working class background so we had no money or contacts in the business, it was tough to enter the acting world. I also remember doing a job with a male actor and finding out he was getting paid more than me. I told my agent and we got it changed so we both earned the same money.

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I was also criticised for my northern accent when I was cast in Coronation Street. I think people thought someone from the north of England should have been cast for Stella instead of me as I’m from the south of England. If I were a man however, no one would care. I nearly resigned several times.

In Our Shoes: Handling rejection isn’t a simple formula for everyone. What advice would you share with us on sustaining rejection to keep going?

Michelle Collins: You have to learn to hold your head up high and forget the emotions. Get that out-of-the-way. You become detached from it. Rejection made me stronger. Also, don’t take things personally. Don’t try to make friends. Now when I start a job, I am there do the job and not to make friends. We should just get on with the job. If the friendships come later, that’s great but get on with it, doing the best that you can.

In Our Shoes:  How has being a single mum affected your career, if at all?

Michelle Collins: I think  as a single working woman it is harder to succeed in your career as you always have that terrible guilt about leaving your children which I don’t think men have as much as we women do!.

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How lucky are we to have such an inspiring guest here on In Our Shoes?! If you have any questions for Michelle, please reach out to me: Marisa@InRShoes.com and I will be sure to send them on. Stay tuned for more everyone! I hope you enjoyed and remember, no one knows what it’s like to be in your shoes, except you.

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