Money natters: Exclusive interview with budding actor Freddie Wilson

By Natasha Culzac

Budding actor and recent-ish graduate Freddie Wilson, 24, dreams of his name being up in lights.

He’s now trying to navigate the tricky tight-rope of going forward in his passion for acting, while earning a crust to be able to do so. Armed with a 2:1 Economics degree from the prestigious University College London, landing entry-level office-based jobs is no problem for Freddie. He does this sort of temporary work at the moment to pay for acting classes. It also helps that he lives at home in Surrey, so can take advantage of low living costs while being able to sweep in and out of London at the drop of a hat.


Q: When you were a kid, Freddie, what did you imagine your future would look like?

A: Growing up I wanted to be a policeman. I think cop films and car chases had something to do with it, but my dad was quick to tell me that real policing isn’t really like that. So that kind of nipped it in the bud. Other than that, I’ve only ever wanted to be an actor. I started to think about that seriously in my late teens.


Q: Are you currently in your ideal job or profession?

A: Not yet, but I’m working towards it and I’m doing full-time drama school applications now. I’m lucky because I went to university and got an economics degree which means I can do freelance work easily, and that is great from a money point of view.


Q: Do you feel that there are financial constraints when it comes to chasing the acting dream?

A: Certainly. In the back of my mind there is pressure that there will come a point when this either works out, or I have to acknowledge that it isn’t going to – and then I need to be sensible about what I’m going to do for the rest of my life from a financial standpoint. Especially having been to uni, with the fact that I have a student loan, it's kind of in the back of my mind – but I feel like I'm still young enough that I can just go for this without worrying too much.


Q: If I gave you 10,000 pounds right now, what would you do with it?

A: Depending on the outcome of my drama school applications, I’d put it towards those tuition fees - they are hefty. If I don’t get in, I’d use it to keep myself afloat while I figure it all out and continue to press on in acting. It would probably actually go straight into my savings and wouldn’t really be touched for a while. I don’t spend that much money day-to-day, but it would be comforting to know that that money is there for when I’d need it.  

Money Management

Q: Whose lifestyle would you choose if you could pick anyone's, and why?

A: Probably yours, because I'd love to go and interview really interesting people. No, I'm joking. I wouldn’t turn down the lifestyle of an A-lister, but really it’s just about doing something that you love and being able to support yourself while you do it.


Q: On a scale of one to ten, how savvy do you think you are with your money?

A: I’d say about a seven. I'm quite savvy in that I like to save money – I've got no problems with that because I don't like going on massive splurges. But in terms of deals - finding deals, coupons, voucher codes, or things like that, I'm not too shrewd. I should start looking online for discounts more often.


Q: Where did you learn how to manage your money? Who did you learn from?

A: My parents. I remember my mum bought me a little ledger thing when I was quite young and actually it was quite funny because I would write down the things I’d spent money on, like 50p on sweets or whatever. It's my parents’ influence that has made me think about things before I buy, especially when it comes to big purchases.


Q: What is your biggest money weakness?

A: Probably ordering food when I should cook. If you were to look at my email inbox you'd see "How was your order?" from JustEat a lot, and that's pretty embarrassing haha.

Money attitude and feelings

Q: If you had to pick three words to describe how you feel about money, what would they be?

A: Not that fussed? It’s not a huge concern at this stage in my life. I recognise that things could be extremely worrying what with my student debt, and with the pressure for young people to become homeowners, and how difficult that is now. But I'm trying to do something in my life that I really want to do, so for now I’m concentrating on that instead. Though if I get into drama school then covering the cost of the fees and living for the next three years will be quite a big financial concern, for sure.


Q: What if you had to pick three words to describe your future?

A: Bleak? No, I’m joking. I hope it’s great, but who knows.


Q: What’s the best purchase you’ve ever made?

A: This is so boring and I don't know if it counts, but I was going to say the fees for my degree. They’re certainly something that was very expensive but which has added a great deal of earning potential and a lot of value to myself.

Q: Do you have any regretted purchases?

A: I bought this second-hand guitar once that wasn't very expensive, but wasn’t very playable either. I don’t think there’s any point in regretting purchases though; you are never going to get the money back!

Decisions and influences on them

Q: If there was one decision in your life that you could go back to and change, what would it be and why?

A: I don't know if I would put it down to one particular decision, but I just wish I hadn’t worried about things so much. I remember that, probably since the age of 14, at each stage of my life there has been something I've been worried about. First GCSEs, then which uni I was going to get into, and now whether or not I’m going to get into drama school. And looking back, none of the things I was worried about ever amounted to anything negative - it all was fine. Also, I wish I could go back and take advantage of missed opportunities. I kind of realised recently that it’s good, as far as career opportunities go, to just say yes to things. You never know how it could turn out.

Q: What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given in life?

A: One of the things that I learned quite early on was that smart work is better than hard work. This mainly applied to exams and things like that but in order to do well in anything, it helps to think about the most efficient way of going about it. I pieced some of this together myself, but there certainly has been a lot of influence from my parents.


Q: Has anyone given you any bad advice?

A: I was once on the way to an audition and a friend of mine (I think he meant well when he said this) just told me: "look, you're probably not going to get this so don’t be upset and maybe even think about doing something else." And I was on the way there just thinking "why the hell have you just said that to me?" In general I think I’ve been really lucky in terms of the advice I’ve been given. I can’t say that I haven’t ever been given bad advice, but I don’t think I have ever acted on a piece of really bad advice.


Q: Did you get what you auditioned for?

A: No, haha.

Q: Since you've graduated have there been any professional achievements that have meant quite a lot?

A: Since graduating, it's been quite a - I don't want to say it's been a soul-searching kind of time - but it's certainly been a time for thinking about life and thinking about what it is I want to do. And I didn't go straight into work from university, so I wouldn't say that I got moving up the ladder too quickly. But I would say I'm proud of myself for having made this decision to try to get into drama school, and to at least try and figure out how I might go about breaking into the career that I really want.


Q: What are your top money priorities for the next one to two years?

A: Keep myself afloat while I'm pursuing acting, which I luckily have been able to do so far. And if I get into drama school, to pay the tuition fees. Longer term, looming in the back of my mind, I’m thinking of building up a deposit to buy a home. You need such a huge deposit now, so I’d like to be saving. But at the same time – with what I’m doing at the moment – it seems so far away. I’m still only 24. But in the meantime I’ll have to have to worry about rent if I move out. London is so expensive and renting is not an investment – you don’t see any return on it. Maybe our generation's different and being a homeowner isn't really as important for us as it was for our parents' generation. Maybe that's something that I haven't quite realised yet.


Q: What do you imagine changing in your life in the next two years?

A: Hopefully I make some progress in acting - that's the main thing. In general, I would like to have a greater sense of direction in my life in a couple of years’ time. I know that sounds ridiculous given that acting is probably the most uncertain career path you could think of, but having spoken to friends who are in stable graduate jobs, I think the feeling of uncertainty about long-term career goals is common at this age. Maybe the progress I hope to make over the next couple of years will give me a greater sense of anchoring, but hopefully my general outlook on life will as well.

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