A former Hollyoaks actress and lead theatre star speaks on what it is like to launch a theatre school during the pandemic, and their plans for south west London post lockdown.

Samantha Shaw, 26, and Jennifer Brooke, 27, of Wimbledon, launched BOSS Acting School, which teaches children skills for both on stage and screen.

Sam and Jenn launched the school in May 2020, with the aim to provide professional and fun training while exploring performing arts.

"BOSS was founded during the first national lockdown, which some might call crazy," they said.

When the pandemic hit the acting industry went into meltdown and our passion felt unfulfilled. Like the rest of the country (and the world) we felt a little lost.

"However, we had a little pipe dream to spread our passion of acting and creating with local children and try to bring a bit of fun into their homes during a chaotic time.

"As actors, we had always worked with children in between roles and loved every second of working with them.

"We had each taught at various different establishments and had an understanding of how to run a stage school."

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Both Jenn and Sam graduated with BA Honours in Acting at Italia Conti and have since made big moves on stage and screen.

After graduating, Jennifer auditioned and gained a role on Hollyoaks as series regular Rachel Hardy working on the soap for just under a year.

Since then, she has worked on various films and TV shows, including BBC’s ‘White Gold’ series 1 and 2, Lionsgates ‘My Name is Lenny’ alongside John Hurt, ‘Astral’ and more recently ‘The Last Letter to your Lover’.

Samantha has gained credits which include being the voice recognition aid in Toyota vehicles, a lead role in the UK Tour of the New Musical ‘The Egg Rumour', as well as participating in various productions and pantomimes.

Speaking on how they adapted their teaching to the pandemic, Sam and Jenn said: "Our first and main priority was to spread joy and creativity among local children in a time that felt like imagination had been squashed.

We began to do £2 classes online, not paying ourselves and keeping prices low enough to just pay for Zoom. In doing this word spread and our passion for the company continued to grow.

"Suddenly it felt like this pandemic had a purpose in guiding us into what we truly wanted and needed to be doing!

"Since then, the business has grown quicker than we could have ever imagined. We now run 11 classes across 6 different venues in Wimbledon, Earlsfield, Colliers Wood and Chelsea."

Speaking on additional hurdles brought by lockdown, they said: "It's been challenging to say the least, but I think as new business owners it has taught us some valuable lessons.

"It has forced us to constantly be adapting and changing our classes in order to meet government guidelines, ensuring that our clients, the students stay safe and happy.

"We started physical classes in September, but when the second national lockdown came into play, we transferred online."

They added: "These lockdowns have been difficult for everyone, parents have had to become superheroes juggling work, home schooling and childcare.

We wanted to have classes that were accessible for all, and easy for working parents, wanting to bring a little bit of performance into their home.

"If starting a business in a lockdown has taught us anything, it is that online classes are a new successful avenue for activity providers."

Following their successful approach, the businesswomen have been nominated for Young Entrepreneurs at the Club Hub Awards 2021.

"We both had a little happy cry, it was completely unexpected," they said.

"We definitely didn't really see ourselves as entrepreneurs, we just started a business that we are really passionate about and with the main goal of spreading confidence and creativity amongst local children."

Speaking about the government roadmap, they added: "We could not be more excited to be back in the room with our young actors!

"The energy, enthusiasm and tenacity of each of our students has blown us away on Zoom but to be back together will be incredible.

"Not to say it will be easy, health and safety remains our top priority at BOSS so we will both be ensuring that all government guidelines are met, and our students remain safe and well.

"We are just raring to go and hope that we are back for good!

Classes will officially resume on April 19.

For more information on BOSS acting visit here.