Moe Bar-El – from CANDI to Olivier Nominee

Moe Bar-El

City and Islington College alumnus Moe Bal-El has been forging an impressive career as an actor. In June 2019, he took the time to speak to us about life after college, and what it takes to succeed in a creative pathway.

Moe studied a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts at City and Islington College between 2010 and 2012 before going on to the Identity School of Acting for two years “on and off”, and making his break into agency work shortly after. Today, he is perhaps best known on screen for his roles in Le Bureau des Légendes (2015), Tyrant (2014) and Zero (post-production).

Having recently received a nomination at the Laurence Olivier Awards (Britain’s most prestigious stage award) for his performance in Every Day I Make Greatness Happen, Moe has a few pointers to hand on surviving the industry.

“A lot of my friends have come to me and asked what you need to do well. I don’t want to say that I’m comfortable, but I’m doing okay, so I’ve had to answer this question a lot. I’ve thought about this question a lot.

“For me to succeed, it’s about staying highly motivated and believing you are actually doing something. You have to keep moving forward. I try to do something every day that makes me better than where I was yesterday, whether it’s reading a book or taking a class. But more than that it’s about how you react when you hit rock bottom. 

“This isn’t an easy industry. When things get hard, you have to be able to bounce back. I try to listen to a lot of motivational speeches – even if they’re just on in the background. It’s about having the right input to keep you going. I try to surround myself with positive influences. Staying mentally and physically healthy is important if you want to grow.

“And you can’t copy what anybody else is doing. You have to find your own path. It has to be natural. You need to have your own identity. When I was starting out, I emailed every casting director on Spotlight I could find. It took about a month, but I got around ten auditions from it, and made some good contacts. I didn’t know anybody else who was doing that – you have to be different.”

Moe started his journey studying at the Centre for Business, Arts and Technology in 2010, before working in Germany and America in 2019. 

“Going back to City and Islington College, it really was the kickstart I needed. I hadn’t done acting before and coming to college was my taster. I had the opportunity to explore my strengths and weaknesses and to perform on stage. That was the point I realised I wanted to continue acting. Freedom was the motivation – I liked being able to take a character and make it my own, to create something from nothing.

“You can’t be in it for the fame or the money. It can be hard. I work as a personal trainer on the side, which gives me some stability. I’d advise having a second skill. But acting isn’t something you can do as a hobby – you have to be committed to the craft. Read books and learn from everybody. My teachers helped me with that.”

On his recent nomination for an Olivier Award, a career-defining achievement for any actor, let alone one who only recently turned 27, Moe said: “It just came around out of the blue. We were doing rehearsals for The Jungle, my third performance, and I got the call. I had only been professionally in the business for three years. It was a long way from my first gig on French TV. I was surprised. 

“Now I’m just taking it as it comes. It’s a journey and I’m still learning. It’s about having the freedom to create first, and the awards second.”

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