Lots of people dream about becoming a singer or an actor, but not many achieve success in either industry, let alone both.
But that’s what happened to Jacob Anderson aka Raleigh Ritchie. From releasing his own brand of alt-R&B music on major label Columbia to starring in HBOs fantasy drama Game of Thrones – as leader of The Unsullied, Grey Worm – his career is really taking off.
We caught up with the 25-year-old performer from Bristol to see how he managed it.
1. How did you know you wanted to be an actor and musician? And which did you originally want to focus on?
I had no idea I wanted to be an actor until I started doing it and it was fun. I always enjoyed it at school but I had no idea it was a job. Music is something again that I always loved but didn’t know I could do it as an occupation. As I started to write more songs I kind of decided that whatever I did I wanted to keep writing.
2. How did you get started?
My manager saw me supporting Terri Walker in Bristol when I was about 17 and contacted me asking if I needed a manager. We’ve been working together since. I just kept writing and developing my skills.
3. What’s been the most important moment in your career so far?
I don’t know yet. Maybe it’s something I’ll look back on and say “that thing was the turning point”, but maybe I haven’t had it yet. I’ve had lots of cool moments and done some fun things, but nothing has stuck out yet as ‘important’.
4. Talk us through your day…
It varies day to day, but usually it’s just responding to emails. It’s fairly boring. Sometimes I’ll spend the day at the studio. On days off I’ll go for a nice walk with my girlfriend and go to the cinema and eat good food. I don’t have a very routine lifestyle, I just kind of do whatever I need to/want to.
5. What are the best things about doing what you do?
I get to do for a job what I would do for free. I can afford to write songs for a living and I get to go and do shows where people sing my songs back to me. It’s insane. I don’t have to do something I hate to subsidise what I love.
6. What are the worst?
Politics. Just the general day to day politics and intricacies of being a music artist nowadays is enough to give you a headache. You want to be able to just write music and release it and have as many people as possible like it, but it’s never as simple as that. All of the details get me down. The statistics are depressing.
7. What do you think people don’t realise about your job?
I guess like the above, that it takes a lot of patience and rejection and what might feel like personal criticism. It’s not enough to just write songs. Overnight successes are often just flukes, and if you’re not one of them, you have to work that little bit harder to be heard. Nothing is simple in the music industry. Or in acting.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To paraphrase: Work with people who have great ideas, not people with the most experience.
9. What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the industry?
Be prepared to work hard and to experience a lot of heartbreak. But also learn to enjoy the good things, because there are a lot of great exciting things that happen and it’s easy to not be in the moment and enjoy stuff when you’re down about stuff that doesn’t matter. I think the most important advice I would give is to only get into it if you really love doing it. You have to love it. You have to love the actual work, and not just the potential perks of the work. It’s not glamorous enough to not care about it.
10. Have you ever had a moment of self-doubt? What happened and how do you get through those?
I have them everyday, but you just have to remember why you’re doing it. Remember how you felt when you first discovered the thing you’re doing and just break it down to the basics of what you are passionate about. I have to remind myself how lucky I am and that every time I complain or start beating myself up, 15 year old me would not only love to be in my position, but worked really hard to get there.
11. What would you say to your 15-year-old self?
Keep going. Work harder. Smile more.
12. What are your career goals?
I just want to make things that I would listen to, watch or be excited about myself and hopefully in doing so, they’ll mean something to other people, the way music and films and things mean so much to me.
Raleigh Ritchie’s latest single ‘Bloodsport ’15’ is available now from iTunes