Last year, we published an actor's year in review. It tracked the emerging coronavirus and the rapid retreat of the entertainment industry, as theatres, playhouses and cinemas closed their doors to punters – some, tragically, for good.
It felt right to acknowledge to all of you that 2020 was pretty awful for performers. But this year, we want to strike a more upbeat tone. Because, well, things are more upbeat.
Here's how far we've come – as the FlairBox family, and as the wider entertainment community – since those dark days of last winter's second lockdown.
In 2021, we did it: FlairBox became a complete, end-to-end casting tool. We've received brilliant feedback from industry professionals, who are starting to recognise the pool of accessible, diverse talent we're deeply proud to host. We got recognition across the industry, too, named as one of the Creative Industry Council’s “Ones to Watch 2021”.
And shortly afterwards, in February 2021, we made the decision to make castings completely free on FlairBox. We're actors ourselves, and we felt it just wasn't right charge our performers for the right to audition during the depths of yet another lockdown.
No Time to Die, finally released in October, heralded the return of dazzling, big-budget films to our screens. Then came Dune: Part One and Spiderman: No Way Home, both in time for the Christmas box office peak. The latter became the first film to exceed $1 billion at the box office since the pandemic began.
So we've turned a corner. And it's the same in theatres and playhouses. The West End's now been selling out for months – despite the odd interruption from COVID outbreaks. According to directors, the audience's anticipation has been "turbo-charging" performances since lockdown.
FlairBox Family Grows
By the close of last year, the FlairBox family of performers was 1,000-strong. A year later, our community has grown to over 6,500. We feel like we know every one of you. Those we've not spoken to directly have uploaded brilliant self-tapes that we've loved watching.
We added our Friends feature this year too, helping you all connect with each other, admiring the work of friends and contemporaries on the Discover Feed.
And the FlairBox team grew during 2021, from four people in 2020 to eight at the end of this year. True to our motto – for performers, by performers – we've made sure that 50% of our team are performers.
More Magazine Content
Speaking of tapping into the skills of performers, this year we had the bright idea of opening up FlairBox Magazine to you, our wonderful community.
What followed was a cascade of brilliant, informative and at times surprising articles. We heard from a former child actor, a yoga instructor, a Shakespeare workshop teacher, the director of an outdoor theatre group, and an industry expert on how to get your short film screened.
We learned how actors can stay productive without work, and why drama school isn't everything. Rob Horsfield dazzled us with a miracle film festival in the desert and an inspiring, radical theatre group from the 1970s, and Adam Jacot de Boinod told us the difference between wafters and dicky birds in an article about centuries-old theatrical terms.
Overall, we doubled the magazine's output, from 14 articles in 2020 to 29 in 2021. And there's plenty more lined up for 2022.
Sizzling Scene Shares
At the closing of 2020, and with another lockdown imminent, we launched Scene Share. The idea was simple enough: send us your best scene, and we'll pick a winner with the help of industry professionals. The response was so overwhelming – and the responses so impressive – that choosing a winner was anything but simple.
Still, during 2021 we awarded 24 prizes to Scene Share winners, who won one-to-ones with the likes of:
Winners were also awarded new showreels, headshots, theatre tickets – and more! Keep your eyes peeled to our Twitter feed for the next competition, in 2022.
Events and Side Hustles
We've been chatting with performers every single day of 2021. What emerged was a sense that our community craved more tuition, information, guidance and connection with industry professionals.
So we set up our new Events page, which features regular workshops and Q&As. Nearly 200 of you have signed up to some of these events, including workshops and conversations with the likes of Olivia Jones from United Agents, Shakyra Dowling, and Olissa Rogers.
It has also been another topsy-turvy year for performers. So we also decided to launch Side Hustles – a way for you all to find well-paid, flexible side jobs to support you financially. We hope it's helping those of you we've placed in work to find stress-free time to concentrate on your craft.
Looking to 2022
We can't wait to tell you what we have lined up for 2022 – the year the WHO itself recently announced that the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end.
But you'll have to wait until next week's post in FlairBox Magazine, when you're taking down the tinsel, to hear what we have in store for all of you.
Until then, the FlairBox team would like to wish all our performers a new year brimming with new friendships, new ideas, and new opportunities.